2015 was a momentous year in which our nine year effort to acquire and preserve Happy Retreat finally bore fruit.
At the end of 2014, the City of Charles Town, under the leadership of Mayor Peggy Smith, stepped forward with an agreement to purchase 10 acres of the 12.3 acre Happy Retreat property. This reduced the amount of money Friends of Happy Retreat needed to buy the house and remaining 2.3 acres.
Dr. Wallace Boston, President of American Public University, immediately led off our fundraising campaign with a combined gift and challenge pledge of $150,000 for the acquisition, restoration and operation of the historic property.
Then in May, Dr. Taylor Fithian and his wife Margie Fithian made an incredible donation that enabled us to purchase Happy Retreat outright. Their gift was made to honor Dr. Fithian’s family, including his parents Taylor and Avis Fithian and his grandfather, R. J. Funkhouser. Our gratitude to the Fithians for their generosity can never be adequately expressed.
We also remain deeply grateful to the Gavin family for their willingness to work with us for so many years to make the purchase possible.
We look back with great fondness to the many hours we spent with Bill and Mary Gavin imagining Happy Retreat’s future.
Thanks to the generosity of many other donors, we have matched American Public University’s challenge gift for restoration and operation. This has allowed us to move forward with initial restoration work and planning, as reported elsewhere in this newsletter.
We have much still to do. Our initial goal is to have Happy Retreat sufficiently restored to begin holding events in the early summer of 2016. The complete restoration of the house and historic outbuildings will take more time. We still must raise over $1 million to do all that we want to accomplish.
With your continued support, we will. We will keep you informed of our progress through regular newsletters like this one and through our newly redesigned website: www.happyretreat.org. We welcome your ideas and suggestions for the future of Happy Retreat.
Thank all of you who have helped support Friends of Happy Retreat over the past nine years!