10 Year Anniversary Newsletter

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Fall 2018 | Special 10th Anniversary Issue

Newsletter Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation

Looking Back & Moving Forward

This Issue's Must Reads: Looking Back & Moving Forward, p. 1-3 Founder's Letter, p. 4-5 Researching & Preserving the Historic Bolling Building, p. 6 Board Member Spotlight, p. 6 Recent Accomplishments, p. 7

Celebrating Ten Years in 2018! 1

The Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation and Museum celebrated the ten year anniversary of the museum’s opening on October 15, 2018, the 146th anniversary of Mrs. Wilson’s birth. Over the past decade, the museum has shared the story of Edith Bolling (Galt) Wilson’s childhood home and her contributions to our country. Mrs. Wilson (1872-1961), the second wife of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and the 24th First Lady of the United States, served from 1915-1921, marrying the President in December 1915. After President Wilson's

stroke, Mrs. Wilson screened the matters of state brought to the ailing president; thus, making her position controversial and helping to inspire the 25th Amendment. The museum counts itself among other First Ladies' Sites and Women’s History Sites; however, it remains the only birthplace museum of a First Lady in Virginia. Photograph from the museum's ribbon cutting and grand The commemoration of this milestone opening on October 15th, 2008. provided a chance for the organization to look back at its accomplishments over the past decade and its work as a public charity. Soon after its opening in 2008, the museum hired its first director and with the co-founders and a small organizing board began offering tours of the pre-renovated birthplace. In 2010, the foundation announced a new board of trustees with Bill Smith, the principal for Smith Enterprises, leading as the original museum chairman. He stated at that time his hope and desire that the museum remains “a strong historical resource and lead[s] us further in becoming a national destination, bringing the importance of Mrs. Wilson’s story to greater public awareness.” This vision, upheld by the current museum staff and Board, remains the same.

Since the museum's opening in 2008, the organization has served over 20,000 visitors visiting from each of the fifty states and around the world. This year, the museum expects to serve over 5,000 patrons through its tours, school programs, Girl Scout visits, and community outreach events. The museum's small collection of about three-hundred artifacts, mostly acquired through the tireless work of Farron Smith, relates to Virginia’s prominent Bolling Family. However, in recent years, visitors to the museum have become interested in what happened in Mrs. Wilson’s later years - her becoming the female owner of Galt & Brother Jewelers, serving as First Lady during World War I, and her role as a “steward” of the presidency after President Wilson’s stroke. Through these topics, museum exhibitions, and other interpretive content, we are able to relay Mrs. Wilson's story to our audience in order to educate and inspire them to be leaders like Edith was: fearless, determined, and persistent. In 2018, the museum also saw marketable organizational growth, including the completion of a federally-funded Museum Assessment Program that provided direction and


recommendations for the museum's future growth. Additionally, the museum has revitalized and expanded the Board of Trustees into a working board with an active committee structure which supports an active executive director, visitor services staff, and an education coordinator. The board, who governs the museum, consists of a diverse and international representation of community members, museum professionals, scholars, and those with business acumen. The museum staff and Board continue with the important undertaking of a future strategic planning process, updating exhibits, planning for historic preservation projects, and expanding educational programming. This work provides a pivotal moment for the museum as it positions itself in the future as a historic site of national significance and in telling the relevant and impactful story of Edith Bolling Wilson. The museum and its dedicated team of staff, Trustees, and Founders want to thank you, our supporters, friends, and community for your enthusiastic support over the past ten years. We look forward to your involvement in the organization as we look to the future.

Commemorating 10 Years... Scenes from the October 15, 2018 Birthday Celebration


for the holidays

Interested in buying an engraved brick for that special someone this holiday season? Contact the museum today to reserve your gift. A special commemorative card will be ready by December 15th to share with the recipient. Secure yours by contacting us at (276) 223-3484 or info@edithbollingwilson.org.


A note from the Museum's Founder In 1989, Bill and I purchased the Bolling Family Home in Wytheville. At that time, we had an idea, a dream if you will, to somehow share the Edith Bolling Wilson story that began in this small rural Virginia town. This idea would have to wait until our children were grown and until we could find the time and resources to dedicate to such an endeavor. Many years later, we began planning and taking actions we sincerely hoped would best raise public recognition that First Lady Mrs. Wilson deserved. We established the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation in 2006 as we believed this was perhaps the most important contribution we could make for our community for a lifetime. Progress that same year included our sponsorship of the Virginia Historical Highway Marker. The historic marker, standing at the front of the Bolling Home, calls attention to this historic site and is an ongoing public tribute to Wytheville’s “Favorite Daughter.” It was a start. Soon after, we began renovating one of the storefronts below the Bolling Family Home for meetings, exhibits, and museum activities. It was ten years ago on October 15, 2008 that the doors to the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum finally opened. Bolling Family artifacts that had been entrusted to our care over the years, and stored in our home and offices, were now safely protected in the museum space. It is a bit shocking to realize a decade has already passed since we first gathered at this historic site to dedicate its public opening. It is extremely gratifying to know that the story of Edith Bolling Wilson, From Wytheville to the White House, continues to be told to the many children reached through the museum’s school educational programs and to thousands of daily travelers visiting from across the U. S. and around the world. Over the years, Bill and I have been joined by Mrs. Wilson’s family members, dedicated museum Board and staff members, committed community volunteers, and generous donors who share our vision to preserve this national treasure and acknowledge the importance of Edith Bolling Wilson’s place in our nation’s history. Many devoted people made possible our ideas to give back to a community we love. It is our belief that Wytheville is fortunate to have the birthplace of a First Lady located in the heart of its downtown, which increases tourism for our business community and the region. The Bolling Home is the Town’s oldest remaining brick commercial building. It stands today as the only birthplace museum of a First Lady in Virginia, and is one of only eight historic sites in the country dedicated to the interpretation of a First Lady. The legacy of Edith Bolling Wilson provides a positive role model not only for our youth, but also for everyone. She was a stellar example of what patriotic stewardship is all


about. It is with great pride that the dream Bill and I had so many years ago has turned into a reality that benefits our community, Virginia, and our country by telling the story of one of the most influential and historically significant women of the twentieth century. We feel very fortunate that the future growth of the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation is being set by a dedicated Board of Trustees and staff and that the story will live on for generations. With the museum's ten-year anniversary on October 15, 2018, I am pleased that with the able staff of an executive director, an education coordinator, and a visitor services coordinator, in conjunction with a strong board of directors, the museum's future is bright. Having rotated off the board December 31, 2017 and having stepped aside from the museum's day-to-day operations, I look forward to supporting the museum as a steadfast volunteer and will continue my role as Founder and advocate for the work of the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum. Bill and I are very proud to say this idea and our dream of preserving the legacy of First Lady Mrs. Wilson has come true. -Farron Smith, Co-Founder

Board Member Spotlight on ROBERT A. ENHOLM Robert A. Enholm is a History/Heritage Expert at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. He manages the Celestial Sphere Restoration Project, which was installed in 1939 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the League of Nations and to honor Woodrow Wilson's vision of a world at peace. He previously served as a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and as the Executive Director of the President Woodrow Wilson House, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation located in Washington, D.C. Before entering a career in nonprofit management, Bob was a corporate lawyer for 25 years, practicing law in the states of California, Georgia, and New York.


Researching and Preserving the Historic Bolling Building The Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace museum is located within Main Street's historic Bolling Building historic site, which served as the early childhood home of Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, First Lady to President Woodrow Wilson from 1915-1921. The Bolling Building is the earliest remaining brick commercial building in downtown Wytheville, built in the antebellum period. It has housed many businesses throughout its history, including a general store, barber shop, and bank. The building is a contributing structure of the Wytheville Historic District, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the site functions as one of two presidential historic sites located on an American Main Street, and one of eight historic sites dedicated to the interpretation of an American First Lady. The Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation is seeking $15,000 in funding to produce a Historic Structure Report for the building. With this document, the museum will be able to properly assess its historic resources, learn about the building's rich history, and provide a context for exploring options for the improvement, restoration, and future use of the second-floor museum space. This project not only serves to evaluate the building's historic integrity, but also provides a framework for future interpretative plans and education programs, so we may better serve our community. The project was recently funded, in-part, by the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns (a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation). Grants from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns are intended to encourage preservation at the local level by providing seed money for preservation projects in small towns. These grants help stimulate public discussion, enable local groups to gain the technical expertise needed for particular projects, introduce the public to preservation concepts and techniques, and encourage financial participation by the private sector. The museum seeks to match the Trust’s $15,000 contribution to the project.


Recent Accomplishments The museum saw its 20,000th visitor in July 2018. We are projected to serve 5,000 visitors in 2018 with over 70% of visitors coming from outside of the region. Our Living History Program served over 6,000 people since inception. This year the President and Mrs. Wilson will make appearances in Washington D.C. and Richmond. Edith’s original Automobile Operator’s Permit was listed as one of 2017 Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts - articles about its conservation will be published by the Virginia Association of Museums and the American Alliance of Museums. Executive Director, Shiloh Holley, attended the White House Historical Association’s Presidential Sites Summit this summer, which included high-profile speakers and a trip to The White House. The museum was named Best "Do Not Miss" Tourist Attraction (1st Place), "Best Historic Site" (1st Place), and "Best Museum" (2nd place) by Virginia Living and “Best Museum” (2nd Place) Blue Ridge Country Magazine in 2018. There has been national and international attention on Edith in her role in the White House before the 25th Amendment passed. The museum became a participant in the nationwide Museum Assessment Program (MAP) through American Alliance of Museums and Institute of Museum and Library Services. The organization completed a comprehensive organizational-focused assessment this summer. The museum is continuing to develop new and relevant education programs for students, teachers, and Girl Scouts, including a Juniors Jewelry badge, and Raise Your Hand Patch. These programs are supported by Summit Community Bank.


Board of Directors 5,500 4,125 2,750


Lisa Alderman, Chair Deborah Kemper, Vice Chair Judson Lambert, Treasurer Linda DiYorio, Secretary

Museum Visitation


The Trustees listed are for the year 2018. The museum is actively recruiting members for terms beginning in 2019.

20 08 20 09 20 10 20 1 20 1 12 20 13 20 14 20 15 20 16 20 17 20 18


Museum's Wish List Office Supplies, including folders, hanging folders, manila envelopes Cleaning Supplies, including old cloths and a Shop Vac


Susan Amos Sherri Case Kay Dunkley Robert A. Enholm Anne Evans Lorri Huffard Chuck Lacy

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