The upcoming Taste of Montgomery County is one of the area’s most popular annual festivals, but its significance to the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum is far more than just great food and entertainment.
The Taste is the Museum’s biggest fundraiser, enabling the Museum to provide quality themed programming, exhibits, and events throughout each year, but this year’s fundraising need is especially dire. The Museum is raising funds to replace the original copper roof on General Lew Wallace’s study, the building he called “the pleasure house of my soul.”
“The Study Restoration Project is our top priority this year,” said Amanda Wesselmann, Acting Director of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. “We want to maintain excellence in visitor experience and protect the historic artifacts that we have, but it’s impossible to do that with the increasing damage to our main structure.”
The Study building has suffered rapid deterioration in recent years due to water penetration in the building’s copper roof. Water has permeated the plaster in a large section of the Study’s ceiling and, if left untreated, could cause irreparable damage to General Wallace’s personal artifacts stored inside.
“The artifacts we have on display are entirely original; they are all things General Wallace used himself, from the furniture to the art and the books,” said Wesselmann. “Because these things are so precious, we take great care to monitor the humidity and moisture levels inside the Study to make sure the artifacts last as long as possible.”
When any measurable rain falls at the Study, the roof leaks in over ten places. Although most of the leaks do not fall on the artifacts themselves, the humidity levels inside the building vary wildly, contributing to artifact destabilization and possible mold growth. Water damage has also affected the foundation of the building, with years of seasonal expansion and contraction causing foundation cracks and separation of the stucco. Ultimately, restoring the building’s foundation, interior ceiling damage and exterior roof works, including the Tiffany stained glass ordered by General Wallace, will cost at least $165,000. Additional costs include expert packing, moving and storing of the General’s personal items while the roof replacement is underway.
Museum staff members have been hard at work for two years raising funds and securing grants for the project, but replacing an all-copper roof in the current economy requires a variety of strategies. “This is probably the most fun way we can raise money,” said Wesselmann. “It gets the whole community involved, enjoying excellent food and great music from around the area, and it helps our Museum immeasurably.”
The third-annual Taste of Montgomery County will be held on Saturday, August 29, 2009 from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville. Featured live musical acts include The Woodstove Flapjacks, The Big Swing Band and the Gordon Bonham Blues Band. Advance tickets for the Taste are on sale now at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, Montgomery County Visitors Bureau, Kwik Kopy Printing, Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts and Moon Dance Café.
For more information on this year’s Taste and the Museum’s Study Restoration Project, contact the Museum at 765-362-5769 or visit our websites at www.ben-hur.com or www.tasteofmontgomerycounty.com.