The Preservation Society of Newport County announced Tuesday that it has received notice from the Trustees of The Helen D. Buchanan Trust of their intent to make a $1.5 million contribution for The Breakers Welcome Center from the Estate of Helen D. Buchanan. It is the largest one-time cash donation in the history of the Preservation Society.

“Mrs. Buchanan was an enthusiastic supporter of the Preservation Society for over 15 years, making significant financial donations to projects such as the restoration of the sunken garden at The Elms. This contribution, her largest, ensures that her community spirit and philanthropic vision will live on for generations,” said Preservation Society Board Chairman Donald O. Ross.

Fanchon “Monty” Burnham, Helen’s daughter and a trustee of the Preservation Society for many years, worked with the Trustees of the Helen D. Buchanan Trust to make this contribution.

“I am devoted to the Preservation Society and to the state of Rhode Island,” said Mrs. Burnham. “As a native Rhode Islander, I recognize the value of tourism for our continued economic vitality, and I know that the Preservation Society is a great economic driver for our state. That’s why we need the Welcome Center, to ensure that the Preservation Society’s visitors receive the first-class treatment that they deserve.”

“I cannot find the words to express my appreciation to the Trustees of The Helen D. Buchanan Trust for this contribution, which will ensure a comfortable welcome to the hundreds of thousands of museum guests who visit The Breakers every year. Their generosity and leadership are inspirational to all of us here at the Preservation Society,” said CEO & Executive Director Trudy Coxe.

In 2013, the Preservation Society announced plans to build a welcome center at The Breakers (1895) commensurate with the property’s stature as an internationally recognized historic house museum and one of the five most visited historic houses in America. The welcome center will create an appropriate, positive first experience for the more than 400,000 people who visit The Breakers from around the world annually, giving them a place to learn about the Preservation Society’s properties and other attractions in Newport, plan their day’s activities, and purchase tickets or memberships. Visitors will also be able to enjoy light refreshments and use clean and accessible restrooms.

The project has undergone extensive public review, and has received all of the necessary state and local permits and approvals. With this latest contribution, the Preservation Society has raised $5.3 million toward its goal of $5.9 million for the Welcome Center.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties–seven of them National Historic Landmarks–span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

 

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