From the Caledonian Record – July 1, 2014
History Center Reaches Fundraising Goal
by Taylor Reed
A hoped-for museum of local history is one step closer to reality this summer.
A beaming Peggy Pearl, director of the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center, announced Monday that the nonprofit just achieved its $250,000 fundraising goal to purchase the former Primmer & Piper law office at 421 Summer Street. A closing is scheduled in August and then the facility will become a museum of local artifacts ranging from a horse drawn hearse to old tools.
“Phew, we made it,” Pearl said Monday. “The next step is the closing.”
Artifacts will be installed following the closing. The collections are presently at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury.
Pearl said the history and heritage fundraising campaign was called the “250 Club.” It began about a year ago, aiming to collect $1,000 from 250 people by Monday.
“We had many people that gave exactly that but we also had families that joined together to give $1,000,” Pearl said. “Some gave in memory of a loved one.”
Myriad small donations were issued as well.
“No donation was too small,” Pearl said. “A lot of people gave in ways that was not easy for them to do.”
In all, donations totaled $192,000 including an anonymous $33,000 gift, Pearl said. The organization on June 20 also secured a $67,000 grant from the Vermont Housing Conservation Board.
“That put us over the top,” Pearl said.
The present owners of 421 Summer St. held the property while the history and heritage center awaited the housing grant announcement. The months-long hold included a deadline that was breached and extended, Pearl said.
“The property owners were extremely generous in working with us,” she said.
Despite hitting the $250,000 mark, fundraising efforts continue. A history and heritage center yard sale, for example, is scheduled at the Summer Street location on July 12, and there will be a membership drive and a Ghost Walk in August.
“We’ve achieved our goal but it’s really just the beginning, if you know what I mean,” Pearl said.
Pearl said the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center Board of Directors has already developed a business plan for the organization. She was not involved in the calculations though and lacked figures Monday.
Pearl said she never doubted making the $250,000 fundraising goal. She refused to think about failure.