December 1, 2020
Dear Friends of the Woodrow Wilson House,

I joined the Wilson House as executive director 18 months ago and this is really my first Giving Tuesday where I can share with you what we’ve accomplished, what we need help accomplishing and how you can be a part of our efforts.

As a preservationist, historian, and as site director of the WH, I see my role as not just maintaining the structure of this historic site, but also using Wilson’s legacy to help people understand today’s issues of social and racial justice in historical context.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, even in the midst of COVID-19. While the doors to the inside of the House have been shuttered, we have brought the museum outside and on-line.
Here is what we have done:
  • Created the Victory Garden and the Fascinating Story of Columbia and the History of Victory Gardens, an outside exhibition with attention to Black and African American and Native American stories.

  • The Victory Garden was the inspiration for Suffrage Outside: the 19th Amendment at 100 which allowed visitors to learn from (and enjoy) an exhibit centered around large, beautiful banners in the Wilson House historical garden. The exhibit, which has been incredibly well-received since it opened in September, attracted over 1000 visitors a month. It’s been covered on local news USA9, in the Washington Post, and on Voice of America television.

  • We created a Virtual Suffrage Outside! tour to provide groups and schools a 50-minute virtual tour and discussion on Suffrage Outside!

  • We pivoted an occasional in-person Speaker Series at the Wilson House to a weekly virtual Wilson House Lunch & Learn on-line Suffrage Series (6 episodes) where attendance grew from 40 -140 guests.

  • This fall, with the Black Lives Matter movement taking center stage in the news, on our minds and in our hearts, we shifted the conversation and speakers to address race, segregation, and loss and obstruction of civil liberties which has given us the opportunity to share with our audiences topics that resonate with today’s current events, including experts on Native American History, celebrating Hispanic Heritage month and talking about Wilson and the pandemic that swept America 100 years ago. We’ve stayed focused on today’s issues of social and racial justice in historical context. (9 episodes)

  • We strengthened the Advisory Council adding five new members and this group of advisors is well-positioned to carry the Wilson House into the next decade.

  • We created the Wilson House Scholars Program, a student volunteer program, and taken on student volunteers virtually and on-site (four scholars over the summer; seven this semester with plans for six students for the spring semester)

  • We started a newsletter and we’ve put out 18 editions to keep our friends up-to-date.

  • We created several self-guided Walking Tours of Kalorama and of famous Waddy Butler Wood houses in our neighborhood.

  • And we have cared for our beloved brick and mortar house on S Street. Through generous donations and grants we’ve completely landscaped the front of the House and finished the first year of a multi-year effort to refresh the rear garden. We’ve re-roofed, re-pointed brick and re-finished floors, including a total renovation of our first floor exhibit room. We’ve cleaned gutters, the garage and the silver. We’ve reorganized the collections, the offices and the teams. We were recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution for our Excellence in Preservation, truly an honor
We’ve come a long way, but there is still along way to go. Covid has been hard on us. We’ve lost revenue from tours, events, and property rentals. We were forced to cancel our annual fundraiser The Bourbon Bash, our Quarterly Cocktails and our Specialty Tours. We’ve furloughed guides, deferred maintenance and postponed exhibitions and events. Due to current budget constraints, the position of curator has been temporarily cut from the budget which has placed a burden on our current staff.
Here is what we would like to do and how you can help:

  • To ensure the Speaker Series continues, please sponsor a speaker series episode or two or three! It costs money to produce and your sponsorship can ensure this programing continues.

  • Sponsor the Scholars Program. The Wilson House desperately needs assistance supporting a meaningful experience for the scholars. It takes many hours each week to set up meetings, projects, mentors and interviews to ensure the scholars experience a productive and rewarding semester at the Wilson House. We desperately need someone to lead this program, if only part time. We are extremely dedicated to this effort and would love to see this blossom into a sponsored position and be able to offer stipends to the students for their time at the Wilson House.

  • Help us market Suffrage Outside! the outdoor exhibit, as it goes on tour across America.

  • Fund high-quality video content so we can bring the Wilson House on-line and our followers virtual tours and content.

  • Donate time, effort, energy or enterprise to help us bring the Scotts’ full story to the Wilson House.

  • We’d like to see the landscape project through and need money to make that happen. We have a masterplan; we need plants and gardeners. Commit to donating plant material for the rear garden.

  • Sponsor our self-guided tours – we’re planning on adding more self-guided audio walking tours of Dupont Circle, Sheridan Circle and Observatory Circle to the list of Wilson House tours and need help financing the audio editing, the guide-by-cell service, the online booking and the marketing of the tours.

  • We need funds to market the Wilson House to schools and communities that want to learn more about President Wilson, his legacy and his place in history.

  • Commit to funding our historic elevator, over 100 years old, built for a president, to remain operational to support guests and staff that need an elevator – to keep this building accessible to ALL of our visitors and friends.

  • We need funds to pay for maintenance and painters to caulk and repaint the exterior of the building.

  • And for those committed to collections, we need funds to store, restore and maintain this amazing collection of over 9,000 items at the Wilson House. From acid-free archival folders and sleeves to restoring the magnificent Gobelin Tapestry to tuning the Steinway Concert Grand Piano.

  • Please tell your friends to “like” us, “follow” us, write about us, tweet about us, tune in to our programs, come to our events, volunteer time in the garden, the curator’s office, the front desk or doing research online.

  • Share your ideas for exhibitions, contacts, leads, speakers, partners, collaborators. We would love your help with ideas for what you’d like to see, discuss, share and learn at the Wilson House.

When we interview our scholars, we ask three questions:

  • Why the Wilson House?
  • What do you want to learn at the Wilson House?
  • What are you going to teach us at the Wilson House?

Let me give you my answer to those questions-

  • Why the Wilson House? The 28th president left the White House March 4, 1921, 99 years ago this March. He was an extraordinary man who accomplished amazing things and yet he was deeply flawed and his presidency consequential. There are articles that are published every day about Woodrow Wilson and his legacy, both positive and negative. People today are still talking about Woodrow Wilson, his presidency and his legacy. These are important topics that we are committed to continue to explore.

  • What do I want to learn at the WWH? Although I was a student of 20th century diplomatic history, there are so many things I never learned in school about America, our presidents and our history. I come to the site to join our audience, an audience with genuine intellectual curiosity, to explore and learn about the nuances of American history that most of us weren’t taught in school.

  • What do I want to teach the Wilson House – or the wider audience? We need to be very direct about Wilson’s legacy. An honest appraisal of history helps us understand ourselves as a nation and helps us put today’s cultural and social events into context.
The Wilson House needs your support.
Here’s how you can help us:

  • Make a gift today by phone, online, mail or in person
  • Phone-in a pledge to be fulfilled this week
  • Phone-in a pledge of a transfer of stock/securities

Call us! Main House 202.387.4062 and donate or pledge today

Donate online:
2340 S Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20008
  • A gift today will count as your 2020 annual fund gift, should you choose it to.
  • A gift of $100 or more entitles you to a lovely Suffrage Outside umbrella!
Thank you! The Wilson House preserves the past to enrich the future and we cannot do this without your help.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!