Friends still seek Happy Retreat
Due to summer vacation and travel schedules, no one from Friends of Happy Retreat could be reached for comment when the Spirit wrote its recent article about Happy Retreat (Editor’s note: The above referenced article was written by the Associated Press). We are still very much alive and working to acquire the property. The challenge has always been not only to purchase the property but to have in place a sound financial plan for its restoration and ongoing use. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, an organization we have worked with closely since we first got underway, estimates that it usually takes seven to eight years of planning and fundraising to acquire a historic property like Happy Retreat.
It is imperative that any plan for Happy Retreat be built around a sustainable use. For that reason, we have sought out partners who would bring an independent source of support for the property’s future compatible with the vision to make Happy Retreat a center for history and the arts. The National Trust has worked with us to help define a workable vision. We are having continuing discussions with several potential partners.
In the meantime, we are also planning events to highlight Jefferson County’s proud history, and in particular the history of the Washington family in our county. In the past we have hosted the very popular Washington Family Homes tours. Last year we held a dinner on the lawn at Harewood to celebrate the 218th anniversary of the wedding of James and Dolley Madison held there in 1794. This year we are excited to be co-sponsoring with the Claymont Society a Harvest Ball in the historic ballroom at Claymont on Sept. 14. It will be a dinner dance with the Big Band music of the Martinsburg Jazz Orchestra. Seating is limited to 125. Tickets are $100. For ticket information please call 304-724-7956.
Randolph Hilton president,
Friends of Happy Retreat
Thanks for the history lesson
We would like to thank the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce for arranging “A Celebration of the 150th Birthday of West Virginia on June 22. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the history of Charles Town and to connect with the pioneers who lived and died in Charles Town during the late 1700s and 1800s.
Our afternoon began with taking the History and Architectural Walking Tour given by Mark Reinhart on the west side of town. We have previously driven by several of the homes on the tour, but had no idea of their historical significance or the early settlers who had lived in these homes. An important point Mark made to the group was to think about the hard work these early settlers had to endure, including building log homes with hand tools and carrying water from a stream. Because water was so important, Charles Town began its roots near Evitt’s Run.
The next tour we took was the Civil War History Tour at Edgehill Cemetery given by Kevin Breeden. We learned about significant people who played an important role during the Civil War, although many we had never heard of before. As we walked from grave to grave, Kevin spun his stories from the knowledge he gained by reading numerous books on the Civil War. Through his visual characterizations, we better understood the injuries, heartache, sacrifices, and devastation these unsung heroes suffered during and after the Civil War and how they came to their final resting place in Charles Town.
Again, our thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, Mark Reinhart and Kevin Breeden for giving us a glimpse into the lives of the people who played a role in shaping Charles Town. We are grateful for the personal time and extensive knowledge that these two gentlemen shared with us so we could better understand our heritage.
Mike and Kathy Sholl