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Jerome Thompson in Iowa sent a link to a New York Times article on privatizing historic house museums as private residences. The case highlighted is Carter’s Grove, owned by Colonial Williamsburg. The story shows that declining visitation due to lower travel costs and rising affluence affects the bottom line. What are the implications to “selling off history”? Are preservation easements (deed restrictions) enough to protect historic sites?

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2 Responses to Selling History

  1. Mary Warner says:

    Selling history is not the same as taking a wrecking ball after it. Taking care of any museum, be it a house museum or a museum museum, takes money, something that tends to be in short supply for most of us. Asking nonprofit organizations to continue caring for house museums when there is no funding to do so properly is an exercise in futility. Better that house museums go back to the private sector where there’s at least a chance that they will be cared for. Lest we be scared about what might happen to house museums, we must remember that there are no guarantees in life. We can take pristine care of a house museum and it may be blown away in a hurricane in a heartbeat. We are simply called to do the best we can do in preserving history, even if that means selling a house museum to the highest bidder. The article points out that most house museums were bequeathed to historical organizations at a time when society didn’t make it a priority to save them. The tide has changed and now even average homes owned by average people are looked at for their historic possibilities. This raises the odds for successful & sensitive private ownership.


  2. Cathy Walters says:

    Have you ever been to the Plummer House in Rochester,once was owned by a Mayo Clinic DR.Olmsted CO.Historical Society has private tours & a wonderful Christmas doings,weddings and parties been held there.Maybe there is a public want if public is informed to preserve what maybe special to them.That may mean you talk with the News papers.They also have other buildings,each are important and are learning tools.


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