Atchison Daily Globe, February 16, 1996

Fund drive begins to drive
Earhart home back to original

Michelle Stauffer, Kansas City aviator, talks to John Mize, Jr. about a Russian style flight suit. Both were on hand for Saturday morning's announcement of the fund raising drive to redo the interior of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. It is estimated it will take $150,000 to get the house in shape by next year's 100th anniversary of the birth of Earhart.

Local citizens and the representatives of the International Women's Flying Organization, the Ninety-Nines, began a fund raising drive Saturday that, when completed, will fully restore the interior of the Amelia Earhart birthplace and childhood home in time for next year's 100th anniversary of Earhart's birth.

The joint fund raising campaign is a first for the famous aviator's birthplace and to reach the goal in the time needs both Atchison and members of the Ninety-Nines to come through.

The combined group estimates it will take about $150,000 to restore the interior of the home, including furnishing two or three rooms in period style and setting up educational displays in other rooms.

Work has already begun on the home.

"We have already let a contract for the caretakers quarter," said Dick Senecal, co-chair of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum fund drive.

The plans are to complete the upstairs work and then begin work throughout the downstairs of the home. At present they are unsure how extensive the repairs will be. Things like the cracks in the walls along the stairwell could mean minor work or completely replacing the sheetrock.

"This project is great for Atchison and great for the block," said John Mize, Jr., chair of the drive. "Since I live in this block, I like to see it kept nice."

Mize said the drive will be run by members of the finance committee working as co-chairs for the drive with 10 captains and people working under each captain to solicit funds for the drive. Within the next two weeks there should be about 45 workers on the drive.

Co-chairs for the drive are: Senecal, Betty Wallace, Jim Taylor, Joan Adam, Carolyn Mohler and Marilyn Copeland.

Captains heading up the local portion of the drive are: Steve Pummel, Bill Irons, Ladd and Karen Seaberg, Leonard Buddenbohm, Gunnar Sundby, Galen Pruett, Pat Knoch, Ruth Stein, Tim Lykins and David Dyer.

Marilyn Copeland, member of the Ninety-Nines and chair of the birthplace museum's board of trustees said, "This group has done a wonderful job welding the interests of the Ninety-Nines and Atchison. This is a chance to truly represent (Earhart) as an exciting woman who was ahead of her time and she came from here, Atchison."

Michelle Stauffer, a Kansas City flyer who was invited to fly the most advanced Russian jet last year, was on hand for the kickoff.

"For me toe on board with the Ninety-Nines is a real privilege and honor," said Stauffer, who has been compared to Earhart for breaking new ground for women aviators. "Amelia Earhart, no other woman made such an impression on the world. I have a framed picture of Earhart when she is getting her first pilots license ... It has been an inspiration to me.

"Earhart has been a force over three centuries. She was born in the 19th century. She was a pioneer in the 20th century. And with work to keep her memory alive, her dreams and ideals will continue into the 21st century."

The work on Earhart's birthplace is planned to finish part of the home and create a learning and research environment in the rest.

"We will furnish some of the main rooms and use the rest as an archive for education research, so school children can come and see and learn about Earhart," said Lou Foudray, caretaker of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. "I'd like to see video tapes and maybe a computer available with information ... Earhart stayed here and went to school in Atchison until she was 11-years-old. She developed her drive while here and people need to know what her life was like."

Foudray said the complete restoration of the home likely will not be complete for a number of years. Long range plans include adding original touches to the home like shutters, original style woodwork on the outside, a picket fence around the home and rebuilding the outside park across the street, which Earhart's grandfather had built during the time Earhart lived in Atchison.

Plans are to keep the museum open during the re-construction work.

"We will try to keep it open but there may be certain projects that we may have to close for a few days," said Foudray. "But there will be no closing for any long term. We try to accommodate as many people as we can. Many come from a long way and this is the only chance they have to come in. I've given tours as last as 8 p.m. and even as early as 8 one Sunday morning."

The fund raising drive will begin with local donations.

The group is asking for $50, $100 and $500 or whatever can be afforded.

There will also be a mailing to all the members of the International Ninety-Nines.

A matching grant has already been obtained for the project from the Courtney Turner Foundation in the amount of $25,000.