Donor gives Mount $300K
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Donor gives Mount 300K - The Mount

Donor gives Mount $300K - Berkshire Eagle Online

1/18/11 7:19 PM

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Donor gives Mount $300K

Berkshire Eagle Staff

Updated: 01/15/2011 10:33:22 PM EST

Sunday January 16, 2011

LENOX -- Thanks to a surprise $300,000 gift from an anonymous Berkshire County benefactor, the pressure has eased

slightly for The Mount to meet a May 31 deadline for payments of $1 million to two major creditors, primarily Berkshire


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The Friday-afternoon announcement by Susan Wissler, executive director of the Edith Wharton Restoration, credited

recent news coverage of the nonprofit organization's plight for helping attract new support.

If fundraising can continue at its current pace, she added, most of the $300,000 can go toward paying down debt, while

the rest covers operating expenses. "But we can't sit back on our haunches, we have to keep raising money," she


What Wissler described as a "pretty ambitious fundraising target" of $50,000 to $100,000 a month is necessary following

a two-month, year-end appeal that drew $350,000, including more than $150,000 from members of the Board of


The Mount continues discussions with prospective new lenders or a partner to share the historic site and cultural center.

"But we're not dependent on finding that partner imminently, there's not as much urgency," said Wissler.

The donor wrote a letter to Wissler last week expressing appreciation for her "candid appraisal and openness" in the

Eagle's article last week but also voicing concern over the $1 million principal repayment The Mount faces in May.

In a subsequent conversation, Wissler said,


the donor cited "her great admiration for Edith Wharton's

writings and many other accomplishments and her deep

love of The Mount, which she regards as a national


The Berkshire County donor also conveyed hope that

her gift will prompt others to step in.

Assuming the $1 million in repayments are made by

May 31, the organization must pay $4.2 million to retire

its remaining debts in May 2014, unless an investor or

partner can be brought in to take over the financial


"While financial challenges remain," Wissler said, "the

positive momentum is undeniably building. This major

gift is another proof that we are headed in the right


While the famed author's estate, a National Historic

Landmark, remains available for private tours during the

winter, the prime season for an average of 30,000

annual visitors is six months long, beginning in May.

Meanwhile, the organization focuses on the annual Edith

Wharton Writing Competition and two scheduled poetry workshops in March.


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Donor gives Mount $300K - Berkshire Eagle Online

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guest 01/16/2011 07:48 AM

Although you mention the poetry workshop and writing competition at the end of the article, people may not realize

that an active educational and cultural program continues at The Mount. The organization has a strong focus on

helping local teachers to teach writing, and encouraging Berkshire area students to produce fine prose and poetry. I

believe Mrs. Wharton would be proud that such useful and soul-nurturing work is conducted under her banner.



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