W e continue to make steady and exciting progress at Happy Retreat. With life returning to normal, we again filled the parlors at Happy Retreat with music. Building on the success of the first two seasons of the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival, we introduced the Parlor Series chamber music concerts at the beginning of the year in collaboration with the Festival. They were all hugely successful. That success drew the attention of the Robert Sykes Jazz Trio, who asked if we might be interested in having a jazz performance. Again, there was an enthusiastic response. So now we have an established jazz program as well.
When the weather warmed up, we began the process of moving the 18th century octagon building from its obscure location behind a boxwood hedge to a place of prominence in the rear yard. Work Is now underway to restore that signature building while we try to figure out its original purpose. We are indebted again to the generosity of Tia and Bob McMillan, of Shepherdstown, for making that restoration possible.
Challenges remain, however. As we have reported in previous issues of this newsletter, we were fortunate to receive a grant through the National Park Service to fund a new heating and air conditioning system for the house. We currently have an inefficient hot water radiator system for heat and no air conditioning.
This restricts our use of the house to cold weather months only, or roughly half the year. This grant must be matched by private donations on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Hence, there is an urgent need to raise contributions for this grant – we are under a deadline to raise approximately $100,000 in private donations by the end of Dec. 31, 2023. We are making steady progress towards that goal but need additional support.
If you can help us reach that goal, please make your tax-deductible contribution to Friends of Happy Retreat, P.O. Box 1427, Charles Town, WV 25414. Donations can also be made through our website at www.happyretreat.org. A new HVAC system is a crucial step forward in the full restoration of Happy Retreat and will make the house fully usable year round.