February 23, 2008

The Mount - Almost in Foreclosure!

I read in the New York Times this morning that The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in Lenox, Massachusetts, is in danger of being foreclosed upon. The restoration of the house to the period when Wharton owned it has cost more than expected. Additionally, the trustees bought Edith Wharton's 2,600 volume library from a book dealer for $2.5 million several years ago and borrowed the funds for that, as well.
If the Trust raises $3 million by March 24, a donor will match it and they will be able to restructure their current debt to a manageable amount. The house is visited by about 30,000 people a year and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As a fundraiser, I know that finding funds for operations is the hardest money to acquire. People love to fund specific projects and programs, but the day-to-day expenses are what kill you. Unfortunately, you can't donate on-line, but there is an address to send contributions.

13 comments:

  1. I read that too - horrible!!!

    Love love love the new header!

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  2. How unfortunate! They need to start selling off smaller assets I suppose if they can't manage to raise all the money. How horrible! And what an awful donor to say they'll give 3 million only if they raise the other 1/2! Indian Giver!! Sounds like they're in dire need of help!

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  3. On behalf of The Mount and Edith Wharton Restoration may I thank you for your concerned comments. As you so rightly point out, finding funds for operating expenses is one of the most difficult tasks for a non-profit organization. Although the situation is grave, the immediate response from the public looks promising. We are working on setting up the website to accept donations, so please visit http://www.edithwharton.org for more information. Thanks again, Molly McFall, Librarian, The Mount

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  4. Im on my way to visit this site - the pictures are so wonderful - that hall - to die for!

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  5. What a pity...the property is beautiful.

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  6. That is sad. Love the colors in the hall.

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  7. Ohhh that explains why I drove to Lennox a couple of weekends ago, just to find the Mount completely closed, with locks on the gates and looking like it was an abandoned estate!

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  8. oh no! and the before pic reminds me of the houses they sell for a dollar if you promise to move and restore them. i have always fantasized about it, but feared it would end in just this way!

    btw, i am in dc/annapolis areas a few times each year. next time i will look you up. believe it or not i have never stopped in baltimore, other than the airport! i am missing out, no?

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  9. Oh wow. It would be such a shame for the house not to be restored. The house is beautiful.

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  10. I agree that this is a terrible state of affairs, but articles and information regarding the project should describe in more detail what steps the owners have taken to avoid fiscal mismanagement in the future. Donating to an organization which mismanges its budget to this degree is not an appealing prospect. Yes, operating expenses are a burden, but spending beyond your means, not finding donors to buy items such as the library collection instead of borrowing (and if not able to find a donor, foregoing the purchase)and missing payments on two loans is disoncerting. I don't intend to sound preachy on the issue, just would want potential donors to have enough information, not only about the needs, but also about going forward management to make sound decisions.

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  11. Meg, so sorry I missed this the first time! Didn't realize you wrote about it already.

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  12. Why can't some enlightened millionaire just save this place? If Wharton's original library hadn't been purchased, would the Mount be in this mess?

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  13. ^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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