2017-11-09 / Front Page

Air-conditioning for the Gray House is most recent W-WHF contribution

By MARGARET ARMOUR
for the W-W Historical Foundation


For the comfort and relief of tourists and guides, a wall-mounted air-conditioning unit has been installed at the Gray House at Callaway Plantation. For the comfort and relief of tourists and guides, a wall-mounted air-conditioning unit has been installed at the Gray House at Callaway Plantation. The Washington-Wilkes Historical Foundation recently donated a new air conditioning unit to the Gray House at Callaway Plantation. After a bit of a pause due to maintenance technicalities, Callaway Heating and Air installed the $3,000 Mitsubishi wall-mounted unit just in time for Mule Day.

This has been an urgent need for the Gray House for several years. In addition to making tourists and guides more comfortable in the sweltering heat, the unit will provide much needed climate control to aid in preservation of priceless artifacts in the federal-style house. Preservation is the cornerstone of the Washington-Wilkes Historical Foundation, and the organization is pleased to be able to contribute to these conservation efforts at Callaway Plantation.

For decades the historical foundation has worked with the City of Washington to achieve goals just like this one at Callaway Plantation. Some other contributions at Callaway include a $5,000 donation to have the historic Gilmer House painted (after assisting in the acquisition of the house) and a large contribution towards the $10,000 restoration of the columns of the main house at Callaway.

Other donations to the City include a donation of $2,000 to purchase exhibit cabinets for the Washington Historical Museum, a $900 donation to acquire artifacts from the Nash Farm civil war museum, a $3,500 donation for new signage at the museum, a $2,000 donation for new period-appropriate window treatments, and a $5,000 donation to restore the Doctor’s Office, which is located on the Washington Historical Museum property.

The Foundation also extends its preservation efforts to county sites. A donation of $300 was made last year to the Robert Toombs House to remove bees that had taken up residence in the roof. The Robert Toombs House was also the recipient of an $8,000 grant several years ago for operating costs during the administrative shift from state to county operation. The Foundation kept the museum open for tourists while those changes were implemented.

The Kettle Creek Battlefield Association is another recipient of Foundation support. A gift of $5,000 was given to the KCBA several years ago as seed money for the first archeological dig at the site. Since then, the Foundation has given the organization $2,500 to put towards land acquisition for the park and $1,500 to help develop an educational rubric for local teachers to use the site. Another project significant to Wilkes County tourism is the recent donation of $2,500 for the interpretive marker at the courthouse which is featured by the Civil War Heritage Trails. An annual contribution of $200 accompanies that marker.

Current projects for the Foundation include a donation of $1,500 and volunteer work to have a city walking map designed and printed for the Chamber of Commerce and Wilkes County Tourism to distribute. The foundation has earmarked $5,000 to put towards a survey to be conducted at Resthaven Cemetery to assess and address immediate concerns there. This year’s “Resthaven Revisited” proceeds will make possible publication of a comprehensive Wilkes County Cemetery book. Also, the Foundation is excited to be included in the restoration of the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse. A donation of $130 for tarps was recently made to that organization.

Quarterly programming is another significant community contribution made by the Washington-Wilkes Historical Foundation. This programming provides education and entertainment for anyone in the community who would like to attend. These programs are $10 for members and $20 for non-members and include a catered meal. Some recent speakers and topics include former Augusta Mayor Bob Young speaking on the murder of Nellie West and his novel based on her story, The Hand of the Wicked; Dr. Tim Drake speaking about mourning and burial customs in the Antebellum South; and Professor Mary Ellen Higginbotham speaking about “Paint, Paper, and Panels: Elements of Embellishment in Washington-Wilkes Domestic Interiors 1790 – 1890.” In addition to this programming, the Foundation produces the annual “Resthaven Revisited” historical drama, the Christmas Tour of Homes, and has started a new tradition in holding a gala honoring the “birthday” of the City of Washington in January. Be on the lookout for even more exciting events next year, the Foundation’s 50th year since incorporation.

Washington-Wilkes Historical Foundation events, primarily “Resthaven Revisited” and the Christmas Tour of Homes, draw over 500 tourists to Washington-Wilkes annually. The average tourist spends an estimated $74 per day in town, not including lodgings or event tickets. Additionally, the Foundation provides support for several other tourism events, including the Spring Tour of Homes, Callaway Plantation’s Mule Day, and Revolutionary Days.

The Foundation is always seeking new history lovers (and looking to convert those on the fence). For more information about how to get involved, contact Washington Wilkes Historical Foundation President Stephanie Macchia at the Washington Historical Museum at 706-678-5001 or historicalww@gmail.com. General meetings are held on the second Thursday of February, May, August, and November, and board meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month at the Washington Historical Museum. Both meetings are open to the public.

Return to top