The year 2019 has seen us make continued important progress at Happy Retreat as we build on the success of the past. The most important progress has been the restoration of the smokehouse and stone kitchen, which nears completion as you are reading this. Thanks again to Bob and Tia McMillan, of Shepherdstown, for their commitment to making this work possible.
The big news for us is the Save America’s Treasure Grant detailed in this issue. Many thanks to board member Matt Ward for his skill and hard work in helping us secure this award. This grant will allow us to install a new energy-efficient HVAC system and upgrade the electrical system. This is a giant step forward in making the mansion fully usable year-round. The current radiator system works, but can be a bit noisy during concerts in the parlors. The oil bill is a significant expense. The only way to cool the house in the summer is with window air conditioning units. The lack of a modern, efficient HVAC system has been an obstacle in making the house available for events. This will soon be remedied. Our challenge now is to raise the $132,500 in matching funds we need to fulfill the grant requirements.
In August, fellow board member Margie Fithian and I traveled to Morgantown to have lunch with Michael Ibrahim, Director of the School of Music at West Virginia University. We explored ways in which the School of Music could become involved in programs at Happy Retreat. We are all excited that as a result of our discussions, musicians from the school will be performing at Happy Retreat in a special program in April. We are working out the details. Musicians from the school, both students and faculty, will also be taking part in the Charles Washington Chamber Music Society concert series in the 2020/2021 season. We hope that his is just the first step in involving WVU in what we are doing at Happy Retreat. Stay tuned!