Happy Retreat Request for Qualifications

May 2024 Rising Sun Newsletter

Jul 9, 2024 | News & Announcements, Newsletters

President’s Letter

We have accomplished much since our November newsletter.  Thanks to the generosity of the many donors who answered our appeal to help us match the Save America’s Treasure grant, we met our goal by the end of December.  We immediately moved forward in January and have completed the electrical upgrade and the new HVAC system.  For the first time in its history, Happy Retreat now has central air conditioning.  This is a huge step forward which will enable us to use the house during the summer. Thank you to all who made this possible!

Completing this work marks a turning point in our restoration efforts. The end of the restoration of the house interior is now in sight.  Our next priorities are completing our catering kitchen, installing handicap accessible bathrooms and finishing up the restoration of the front portico columns and of the first floor of the west wing.  Then we can move on to treating the exterior façade and converting the garage into a visitor’s welcome center.

We also completed our first full season of concerts in April, both for the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival Parlor Series and Jazz at Happy Retreat.  We are pleased that musicians enjoy playing at Happy Retreat as much as audiences enjoy listening to them there. We are especially pleased that the wonderful Robert Sykes Jazz Trio seems to have found a home at Happy Retreat.

Detailed in this issue is the story of a 19th century sideboard which we believe came from Happy Retreat.  Soon after Friends of Happy Retreat was formed in 2006, we visited with Jim Reese, the late CEO of Mt. Vernon, to explore what we could do with Happy Retreat if we succeeded in acquiring it.  The first thing he said was whatever we do, don’t become another “old house museum.”  He said people no longer want to walk through a house full of antique furniture. We have taken his advice to heart and endeavored to keep Happy Retreat sparsely furnished so that it can be a place where things happen – concerts, festivals, art shows, etc.  The sideboard is the exception to that rule.  It is a reminder of everyday life of Happy Retreat two centuries ago.

Finally, we are excited to welcome three new members to our board of directors: Amanda Updike, Rebecca McIntosh and Marty Keesecker. We are already benefiting from their enthusiasm and experience.

Walter Washington