Wait, It's Only Been A Year?

In some regards it’s hard to believe that I have only been (sporadically) writing this blog for just over a year. In that time, Hearthstone has accomplished so much that is it, quite literally, hard to believe. So as a recap, here is a quick list of the things we have accomplished (it’s a bit long but that is kind of the point) in just the past 12 months…

•       Drove creation of a Downtown Appleton Museum Council with five other institutions

•       Drove creation of a multi-museum pass call the “M.A.P.” (for Museums of Appleton Pass) that saves families 20% versus regular admissions.

•       Revamped our cooperative effort to school tours with the History Museum at the Castle

•       Begun establishing the same thing with the Grignon Mansion

•       Begun establishing the same thing with the Paper Discovery Center and The Fox River Locks Navigation Authority

•       Hired a Curation Director

•       Implemented UW-O practicum work that gave students interested in public history real world experience doing real curation and real world exhibit work

•       Started an internship for Lawrence University students

•       Received coverage on local television and radio (over twenty times)

•       Met with the Executive Directors of seven N. W. Wisconsin Museums

•       Worked with four other historical societies to curate our “The Beginnings of Baseball in Wisconsin: 1860-1930” exhibit

•       Curated an exceptional exhibit called “Caught in the Current” on the history of sport fishing

•       Entered an award winning float in the Appleton Flag Day parade

•       Launched a new website (the one you are reading now)

•       Designed and implemented a way to augment tours using “virtual” virtual reality (that’s not a typo)

•       Initiated volunteer curation projects so volunteers could get hands-on experience

•       Completed the interior restoration of the residence by restoring the last space in the house occupied by the Rogers family (our spectacular 1882 bathroom)

•       Renovated our lower level exhibit space

•       Begun a renovation of our curation space

•       Hosted six “Mysteries at the Mansion” fundraisers

•       Hosted five “Summers on Veranda” fundraisers

•       Hosted three musical events including “Tráthnóna Érie” (our St. Patrick’s Day Irish music celebration)

•       Hosted a “Victorian Tea” to unveil the Kloehn Albums

•       Drafted and submitted nominations to the Paper Hall of Fame for Henry Rogers and William and John Van Nortwick.

•       Attended two Volunteer Fests

•       Record Setting Haunted Hearthstone in terms of both attendance and sales

•       Record Setting Victorian Christmas in term of both attendance and sales

•       Attendance is up 39.5% over 2017-2018 for the entire year

•       Number of volunteers increased 36%

•       Annual Appeal topped the $18,000 mark

•       “Shine Even Brighter” Capital Campaign Launched

•       New landscaping plan finalized (we can’t wait to get started)

•       New historical marker vetted and obtained from the Wisconsin Historical Society

•       Removed 20,000 bricks (by hand) that comprised our old driveway and installed a new parking lot

•       Launched “Every Soldier’s Square” project (with those 20,000 bricks) to raise money for veterans affairs, public art, and Hearthstone

•       Successfully ran our pilot program for STEMIE/Invent Wisconsin for 116 sixth graders at Kaleidoscope Academy (and we will hold our first “Invention Convention” in two weeks)

Whew! That is a long list. Wait, it’s only been a year?! Wow… not too bad. In many ways we have reset the paradigm for historic house museums and the impact that is possible when a relatively small institution looks beyond its walls (which is the subject of a future Note).

But, of course, none of this long list, absolutely none of it, could have been accomplished without a phenomenal volunteer base, a staff that puts in monstrously long hours, and a supportive Board of Directors. I can’t thank each and every one of them enough for the time and toil (remember that’s 20,000 bricks by hand!), the passion and perseverance that made it all possible.

Just a note from the back porch.

- George, Executive Director at Hearthstone