Photo contributed by Todd Morgan / Todd Morgan is executive director of Preserve Chattanooga.

Todd Morgan studied economics at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and his first job out of school was at a bank. But an interest in architecture led him to urban planning, historic preservation and similar endeavors, Morgan says.

About six months ago, the Knoxville native was named executive director of Preserve Chattanooga, which was for many years known as Cornerstones Inc. Preserve Chattanooga's mission is to protect and advocate for the architectural heritage of Chattanooga, according to the group. Part of its work are facade easements which protect important historic sites such as the Customs House, Tivoli Center, and Dome Building.

Morgan, 52, says it feels like Chattanooga is at a pivotal moment.

"It's growing. The pressure is on for development," he says.

But Morgan adds that it seems as if people value taking historical places and turning them into locations both new and interesting.

"This feels like a really good moment in time," he says.

Morgan says Preserve Chattanooga also funds a professor-in-residence for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's minor in historic preservation.

"It's a way to get young people involved in preservation and help them understand the importance of those buildings," he says.

Preserve Chattanooga is the current owner of the historic Terminal Dome, which is the centerpiece of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex that opened in 1909. A plan is underway to preserve the passenger terminal and reinvent its use as a vibrant community asset, according to the group.

"We want it to be the front door of Chattanooga," Morgan says.

After his banking job and working with an architect in Morristown, Tennessee, where he grew up, Morgan landed a post as a city planner in that Upper East Tennessee community.

Morgan says he later created a downtown partnership initiative in that city and launched a facade program that connected with Main Street Tennessee, which serves as a statewide resource for communities seeking to revitalize and manage their traditional downtowns.

In 2013 and 2014, he became Main Street Tennessee's director in Nashville. He then joined Knox Heritage, which is Knoxville's preservation entity, and served as its director starting in 2018. He says he came to Chattanooga last year to head up Preserve Chattanooga when former director Ann Gray retired.

"I've fallen in love with Chattanooga," Morgan says. "It seems people genuinely want to work together to make the city better."

He says the group plans to bring back Wine Over Water in Chattanooga in October. The event is Preserve Chattanooga's primary fund-raiser.