This has been one of those weeks that makes it very hard to choose a topic to post about! Let’s see: should I tell you about Molly Haskell’s visit to campus and lecture? After all, she’s one of our most distinguished alumnae and her new book is being very well reviewed . . . or perhaps an update on issues discussed at this fall’s Board meeting? But then my community update is posted here, if you’d care to read it. Or perhaps something about the meeting I just attended with government representatives such as Martha Kanter and Gene Sperling to discuss President Obama’s proposals for higher education? (Whatever your political leanings, I hope you’re following the discussion of these proposals: their implications are potentially very challenging for institutions like Sweet Briar and friends of higher education should be paying close attention.) Or maybe you’d like to hear about what fun it was to welcome nearly 50 families to campus on a gorgeous weekend for an Open House for prospective students?
Instead, though, I think I’ll point you to two clever videos that have just been created by Sweet Briar’s Tusculum Institute. “Virtual” tours of Tusculum have just been posted on line: I really do encourage you to take a look. In these two short videos you can get a dynamic sense of what the family home of Indiana Fletcher Williams’ mother looked like. The digital images are interspersed with historical photographs that add color and dimension to the presentation. These videos are a great example of how technology can allow us to understand space and place in new ways; watching them, you really feel as though you’re moving through this historic building.
Several years ago, as many readers will recall, Sweet Briar acquired the Tusculum house and had it carefully dismantled, inventoried, and moved to campus for safe storage.
Our initial hope was to be able to secure funding to reconstruct it on campus. However, that did not prove to be feasible: we are now making the house available to any qualified organization or individual willing and able to reconstruct it in a historically sensitive manner. Proposals are currently being accepted and the call for proposals is available on line.
Sweet Briar takes its stewardship for this piece of history very seriously. Having preserved the elements of the building, repaired and restored them appropriately, and carefully organized and protected them in storage has been a valuable achievement. But we know that long-term storage is not good stewardship: Tusculum deserves to be reconstructed and used, to come back to life.
Until that happens, however, what fun it is to watch these videos and imagine it!