Cocktails With Craik-Patton
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine wrote in December of 1776. This famous line addressed the uncertainties facing the American independence movement following a series of setbacks experienced by the Continental Army and wavering support for the cause of liberty against such overwhelming odds.
While the lasting impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is yet to be seen, the moment in which we are living through is certainly a trying time for families, communities, and institutions across our country.
A survey conducted by the American Alliance of Museums in July estimated that nearly 33% of our country’s museums and cultural institutions are at a significant risk of permanently closing due to limited opportunities posed by the pandemic. With that shocking statistic in the forefront of our minds, we have had to adapt to circumstances facing us and reevaluate our annual benefit so that it may be held safely and successfully.
Not only does this organization rely on donor support to fund the full-time staff salary of its executive director, those contributions also aid in providing the money used to match our support for a part-time AmeriCorps service member through a partnership with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. Allowing the museum to remain open to the public Monday through Friday and on weekends by appointment.
Public support also assists in the acquisition of historical artifacts and period appropriate furnishings curated and cared for by our Collections Committee. The most recent project that the committee has undertaken is the procurement of historically woven fabric for a set of draperies that will be installed in our museum’s entryway. The authentic design and construction, replicated from schematics left behind by a nineteenth century weaver, will consume a large part of the committee’s annual budget.
Other budgets dependent on contributions to Craik-Patton include our Gardens and Grounds Committee. The hard work of this committee and the funding that it receives allows us to maintain our beautiful gardens and the stately architecture of the home. As a benefit of maintaining these picturesque settings, the conference room, parterre garden, and front lawn remain an enticing venue for photography sessions and event rentals.
This summer, we were faced with an unexpected expense with the failure of the HVAC system that moderates the temperature in our conference room. Not only does this important piece of equipment stave off the threat of harmful molds and other various hazards, but it serves a very important purpose in providing a comfortable location for the family and friends of those who rent our venue on their special day.
As one might expect in a home that is nearly 186 years old, there are larger maintenance projects that require significant investment. One such project that requires a costly restoration is the front portico of the Craik-Patton House. Its iconic pillars, banisters, and floorboards have experienced years of moisture and wear that have called for nearly $20,000 in repairs. While we have been able to secure a $5,000 grant from the Jacobson Foundation, we are in the middle of attempting to obtain at least $5,000 more to become eligible for state and federal matching grants that would cover the entirety of the repair expenses.
Additionally, in allowing our site to remain open, decoratively exquisite, and a protective setting for artifacts and furnishings that provide historical context to the nineteenth century, the Craik-Patton House was one of sixty museums admitted to a curated collection of sites called Great American Treasures, a project that has been years in the making to tell the “stories – big and small – of how America became America.”
While it is a great honor to be counted among the list of homes that stretch from Maine to Hawaii, it is an even greater responsibility to preserve the historical structure, priceless artifacts, and to provide sufficient educational programming that instills an understanding of the events and people that placed us on the path that we follow today. We are hoping that our admittance into groups like Great American Treasures allows us to continue to open our doors to new visitors from every part of the country and share with them the information that we know makes us special.
Like many other organizations facing difficult circumstances today, Craik-Patton has had to adapt to the new realities of our ever changing world; so too has our regularly scheduled annual benefit, which ordinarily provides one third of our operating budget. Rather than hosting this year’s event in person, we will be trying to connect with you online using different platforms, such as: Zoom, Facebook Live, and Constant Contact.
This year we are relying on people to contribute to our upcoming fundraising campaign throughout the month of October and to join us on Wednesday, the 21st for a virtual toast (special invitations will be sent via email). You will also find various fundraising challenges and events advertised via Facebook and Instagram, so if you do not already follow us on those platforms, consider subscribing to them today.
While it always seems like it is the darkest just before dawn, so too was it for the struggling patriots of 1776 reading Mr. Paine’s harrowing words. Little did they know that dawn was on the horizon with General Washington famously capturing the city of Trenton three days later. Will you become a part of the team that helps us across the frigid river and keep history alive?
Leutze, Emanuel, Artist. Washington crossing the Delaware. Delaware Delaware River New Jersey New York Trenton United States, ca. 1898. Photograph.