Dale H. Rahn, OTPA Founder and First President gives the following account of how it all began...
" 'If you don't do it, nobody else will.' Those were challenging words to me in January of 1985. Neighbors next door to Chapman University (then Chapman College) posed that statement to me when I met them about organizing the community to protect our neighborhood. I considered that challenge over the next two weeks. I contacted some other fledgling preservationists in the Old Towne community I had met over the successful fight to save the Welch House and its three other neighbors from the Library expansion the year before. I made a flier and invited five people whom I considered supportive, with driving personalities, in this new venture. On the last Saturday in February this group consisting of myself, Robert Boice, Laren Gartner, Tita Smith, Bill Trousdale and Russ Barrios met at Watson's Drug & Soda Fountain for breakfast and hatched an organization with a community meeting scheduled for mid-March. We each put in $20.00 seed money and an organization initially called "Voters for Old Towne Preservation" was born. We met on March 20th of that year with a huge overflowing public response at the Library Community Room. Over the next few weeks, with the power of the community behind us, we gathered others to our cause. We also changed the name to Old Towne Preservation Association. Our wish was to have it spell something but to no avail, we stuck with OTPA.
Those early years were acrimonious to the established power structures in the city, but with new ideas and a far more creative vision we persevered. We cared little for politics and we had even less concern for establishing another organization. I would say we had a missionary zeal and not a care for what others perceived us to be; we were brash and assertive, sort of street fighters. Many organizations go through a similar infancy process and mature, as OTPA has, into a multi-faceted, multi-cause group. The years have been good to OTPA; a sign of dedicated people committed to the treasure the Southland now calls, Old Towne Orange."