Letter from the President
By Charles F. Bryan, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer
On March 16 we passed a milestone in the construction of our new wing, with the topping-out ceremony. This event takes place when the highest part of a new building is put in place. According to a tradition going back centuries, the builders place an evergreen tree or branch on that highest point to celebrate their progress. We went that tradition one better: the giant crane used to erect the steel girders hoisted both a living evergreen tree and a United States flag to the highest I-beam. The chairman of the VHS board, Hugh V. White Jr., reminded the crowd of members, trustees, and staff that we had announced the $55 million campaign that includes the wing on the evening before September 11, 2001. As I have remarked several times before, it is in troubled times that historical societies can offer opportunities for reflection and perspective. Given the uncertain times in 2001, we wondered whether it was prudent to go forward with construction. We decided the answer was "yes," and we think it was a good decision. Progress has been heartening. Construction is both on time and within budget. The task is hardly finished, however. We still need to raise $13 million, and it is often at the end of campaigns that raising money becomes the most challenging.
Next year will be our 175th anniversary. That, too, will be a remarkable milestone for the VHS. Soon we will announce a busy slate of activities throughout 2006, the highlight of which will be the dedication of the new wing. But the most important thing we can do to mark the anniversary is to secure those pledges to reach that ambitious campaign goal. With your help, I’m confident we’ll be able to celebrate that achievement and the new wing.
Posted May 2005
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