Savannah visionary and historic preservationist dies

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – A Savannah luminary who helped to preserve the city’s rich history has died. Emma Morel Adler passed away on Sunday at the age of 90.

The Savannah native served on the Savannah-Chatham County School Board. The cultural conservationist, alongside former School Board President Saxon Pope Bargeron, formed the “Friends of Massie” in 1975, one year after the public school closed. The two raised funds to restore the building into the Massie Heritage Center, which is now a community classroom and popular tourist destination.

“She has redeemed the cultural heritage of this story. The fact that we have 14 million tourists, we glory in the architectural legacy of it, but she’s one of the people who provided sort of the cultural covering that makes this story so exciting,” said Paul Pressly, Adler’s friend.

Pressly, the former Headmaster of Savannah Country Day School, described Adler as passionate, larger than life, and someone who never took “no” for an answer. Jamie Credle, the Director of the Davenport House Museum, said that Adler mentored young adults to become leaders of preservation.

Emma and her husband Lee Adler shared a passion for restoring historic buildings and served as trustees of the Savannah Historic Foundation. Emma worked with the foundation to create the Georgia Day Celebration and what we now observe as Georgia Heritage Week.

The Historic Savannah Foundation established the Lee and Emma Adler Preservation Advocacy Award in honor of the couple.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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