An Unexpected Chapter

Historic homes have a multitude of obstacles to contend with in the best of times. Their limited resources are often spread thin, covering everything from house repairs and renovations to ever-changing advances in technology. In a world where interest in history seems to be waning, the often-underpaid and overworked staff at these iconic sites work harder than ever to remain relevant and attractive to a changing audience.

When the COVID pandemic of 2020 hit, many historic home museums were forced to take a hard look at how they would come out on the other side. Most closed their doors indefinitely, and many have cut services and staff, losing donors who are dealing with their own financial hardship. Needless to say, it’s been a rough year.

I was curious how some of the homes I’ve visited are faring, and decided to compile a list here. Some have embraced their creativity, implementing virtual tours and programs. Many have established urgent fundraising campaigns, and most are keeping me quite entertained with their social media posts.

I hope they survive. I have been so personally enriched by time spent in the walls of these relics of history and I can’t imagine a world without them. Legacies are at stake here. Let’s all do what we can to support them.

Here are links to a few of the historic homes that I’ve visited (and links to my post about them).

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, MA
Offering fantastic “virtual visits” for $10
> My post

The Walden Woods Project, MA
Offering virtual talks and fun, inspirational tidbits on their Facebook page
> My post

Bronte Parsonage Museum, UK
Open when safe and possible; offering “Bronte Lounge” virtual events; launched “rescue appeal” fundraising campaign.
> My post

Keats House, UK
Open when safe and possible; offers lots of great content on their Facebook page
> My post

Keats Shelley Memorial House, Rome
Currently closed but posting regularly on Facebook. This is my first stop when we can travel again!

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, CA
Currently closed but posting fun stuff on Facebook. I’ve always had a soft spot for this lovely little museum and hope they can pull through this!
> My post

Pittock Mansion, OR
Open when safe and possible; created a fantastic virtual tour and continue to post regularly to Facebook.
> My post

O’Neill Tao House, CA
Since the organization had to cancel live productions, they cleverly created “Virtual Gene,” short video clips showing the background of the organization and interviews with past performers.
> My post

The Robert Frost Farm, NH
Unfortunately the website has no information about the status of this site.
> My post

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