Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2014: Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Birthplace

In this 1970 photo Pearl Buck begins the restoration of her home by knocking out a piece of porch railing of her Birthplace while back West Virginia for an environmental seminar.  Four years later we held out grand opening on May 4, 1974.  Sadly, Pearl died at the beginning of March in 1973, so she didn't get to see the opening, but it must have already been clear the house would indeed be successful as a gateway to "new hopes, dreams and ways of life" as she wished it to be

The project was and has continued to be a community endeavor.  In the coming months we'll post photos and stories of that effort in this blog.  Everyone involved with the Birthplace, from the moment a commitment was made to save the home to today should feel some sense of pride in the collaborative endeavor.

May 4, 2014 will mark the 40th Anniversary of our opening, and we think it deserves to be celebrated.  Unfortunately, that porch railing that Pearl S. Buck is knocking taking a whack at in the picture is once again in need of repairs and painting, as is the entire house.

In fact, that is just one of many structural improvements we need to or would like to have in place by then.  We're hoping to have both houses in tip-top shape by the 40th Anniversary, though it will be no small challenge.  Our "to do" list ranges from simple things such as repairing or putting latches on the screen doors of the two houses, to installing "French Drains" on the gutters of the Stulting House to drain rainwater away and stop damage the moisture is doing to the base of the house, and bringing the kitchen of the Sydenstricker House up to code with a three basin sink and other improvements.

Such problems must be addressed, as historical preservation is an essential part of our mission.  Not only is the Birthplace an important part of our local heritage, but it has been designated as a landmark important to the history of our nation as a whole.  Our real challenge, however, is coming up with a plan of action the appropriately prioritizes all of this, while continuing the programming that Pearl Buck also made the priority of the Birthplace in that often quoted statement from My Mother's House.  

It is activity such as the Birthday Celebration, Writers Workshops, Harvest Moon Festival, cultural programs in schools, Good Earth Garden, that make the Birthplace "a gateway to new hopes, dreams and ways of life." I believe the Birthplace can have an important role to play, not only in preserving and revitalizing our local heritage, but in presenting it to the world.  In so doing it also helps make our youth better able to compete in an increasingly globalized marketplace and helps develop the local economy.  

The challenge, then, is to balance the two priorities.  As the 40th Anniversary approaches, we hope to continue and expand our activities.  We've already announced plans for a revival of the Between Two Worlds Musical.  We'd certainly like to hear what other ways you think it would be appropriate to commemorate this anniversary.  

But to succeed in all of this, we need your involvement.  It's no secret that our area has been hit hard by the the downturn in the local economy, and our financial situation is no exception.  And it sometimes feels like every time we make progress it's followed by unexpected setbacks.  For example, the croquet tournament was a great success, and raised about $3,000, yet it was quickly followed by the damage from the stormThen, just yesterday a new problem revealed itself, as the roof over the bay window in the office began leaking! 
Still, we can overcome this with your help, whether you are part of our local community, or someone thousands of miles away who's been influences by Pearl S. Buck's life and writing.  The Birthplace project has always been a community endeavor, dependent on our donors and volunteers.  Won't you help us make the 40th Anniversary of our opening as special as the original 1974 Grand Opening?  Here's some simple things you can do:

1) Join or Renew Your Membership - Donations are essential to funding our day-to-day operations, but they mean so much more. By purchasing a membership in the Pearl Buck Birthplace, you enable us to create and foster programs that enrich the entire community.

2) Volunteer - No matter what your skill or expertise, we can probably use it at some point.  Whether you're a scholar, cook, actor, carpenter, gardener, curator, community organizer, financial advisor, doctor, ditch-digger, bartender, illustrator... we may be able to use your skills at some point.  Even if you think you have no useful skills, we may need your labor or ideas.

3) Make a One Time Donation- You can make a one time donation online using the donate button on any page of our site.  Contact Acting Executive Director Sue Groves or any Board Member to discuss legacy donations or donations of financial assets.

4) Donate to the Collection - If you have books, art work, photographs, papers, crafts, or furniture relevant to Pearl Buck, the  Stulting or Sydenstricker Houses, or the history of the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace that you wish to donate, please contact us to discuss.

5) When You Shop Online, Begin At Our Sites - If you start at the Amazon.com links in this blog, and soon to come in our website and eventually make a purchase at Amazon.com, even if it is completely unrelated, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Birthplace.  The percentage varies depending what you buy.  We also have our own Amazon Storefront (www.amazon.com/shops/PearlSBuckBirthplace) and an online interface for our Gift Shop (www.pearlsbuckbirthplace.com/store) where you can buy the items for sale at the birthplace through our website.

6) Simply visit the website, blog and Facebook page - Believe it or not, just doing this helps, especially if you comment on, forward, or like what you see there.  When we apply for grants or donations, especially from corporate entities, it is helpful to be able to show large numbers of visitors and active posts.  Discussion is particularly desirable, because it demonstrates active engagement.

7) Stay in Touch - We want to know your thoughts and opinions.  Join our mailing list for information on events and developments at the Birthplace by sending an email to info@pearlsbuckbirthplace.com.

We're all counting on you!   

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