Garden Club donates $5K to Kirwan House Museum
To be used to repair Superstorm Sandy damage
CHESTER — When Superstorm Sandy tore through the region during the summer of 2012, it left a lot of damage in its wake. Some of that damage occurred at the historic James E. Kirwan Museum on Dominion Road in Chester.
While most of the exterior damage was repaired soon after, there is still quite a bit of work to be done inside, and that’s why the museum was selected as the special project of the 2016 Queen Anne’s County House and Garden Pilgrimage.
On Thursday, June 30, officials of the Queen Anne’s County Garden Club, the Kent Island Garden Club and the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage gathered at the museum to present a check for $5,000 to the Kent Island Heritage Society, which has its headquarters in the building. The donation comes from the proceeds of this year’s House and Garden Pilgrimage, held April 30.
The Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage asks the sponsoring club each year to select a project that the club wants to support with some of the proceeds from its tour, said Anne Foss, president of the Queen Anne’s County Garden Club. It was this year’s sponsoring club, and it chose the Kirwan House Museum.
“Water intrusion turned some of the plaster into mush,” said museum curator Linda Collier. There is also water damage to walls and ceilings, and wallpaper and paint, especially in the hall and parlor, which are described as being “particularly in bad condition.”
It was pointed out that while Sandy dealt the house a “severe blow,” most of the external damage to the roof and windows has been repaired.
“This was more than we hoped for,” Collier said of the donation. Heritage Society President Jack Broderick called it a “substantial” gift. The entire donation will go toward making the necessary interior repairs, he said.
The house and general store attached to it date from about 1889, and it was the home and business location of State Sen. James E. Kirwan for many years. He was a commander in the old Maryland Oyster Navy and a businessman with many diverse business interests, which were carried out on what is now museum property. He is perhaps best known for leading the battle against a government proposal to convert Kent Island into a weapons proving ground during World War I.
Kirwan’s general store was a longtime fixture in the community and remained in operation until the late 1940s. It was donated to the Kent Island Heritage Society in 1994 by Kirwan’s granddaughter Mary Catherine Kirwan. It has been restored to its appearance in the period 1890 to 1920 and 80 percent of the artifacts and furniture in the building are original to the house and store.
The Kirwan House Museum, located at 641 Dominion Road, is open the first Saturday of each month from noon until 4 p.m. and costumed society docents provide tours. For more information log onto www. kentislandheritagesociety.com.
The Queen Anne’s County Garden Club presents a check for $5,000 to the James E. Kirwan Museum to assist in repairing damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. From left are Linda Elias, Kent Island Garden Club President; Queen Anne’s County Garden Club President Anne Foss; Kai Marchant, Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage Chair; Kirwan House Curator Linda Collier; and Kent Island Heritage Society President Jack Broderick.