I gave up the right to whine when I resigned my position as executive director of the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation in October. Citing health and personal reasons, I knew I could not continue on at the pace of the past three years. So much work to do and so few laborers.
But I never stopped loving Woodmanston nor the vision of what she could be in the future. The memorial walkway, an acknowledgement of those who once labored as slaves on this and other plantations, was meant to "put a face" on slavery. But when we opted to use the names of those individuals as they were registered in the 1870 Census, perhaps the reality hit a little too close to home.
The names are familiar, "good, white family" names now adopted by those newly freed, reminders of who the slave holders were in that other lifetime. Perhaps, even in the 21st century, we’d still like to sweep it under the rug, having never paid tribute to all that was accomplished by these people who remain nameless to us to date.
"The Walk — An African American Tribute" was to be one aspect of a new master plan for LeConte-Woodmanston, a plan that never made it to paper. Trail improvements and expansion, botanical gardens adorning the walkways as they had in the time of Louis LeConte 200 years ago, and acres of camellias, where the American camelliana was born — these were all to be part of the plan.
"The mission of the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation is to preserve the rich historic, ecological and scientific heritage of the LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation Site. This mission will be accomplished through continual efforts to build a strong advocacy group, to raise funds and to promote the site as a regional educational and tourism resource. The overall goal of these support-building efforts is to provide the means for the preservation, restoration and operation of significant features of the site that will form the core of a public education and interpretation program."
There has not been a concerted fundraising effort by the board of directors since the Garden Club of Georgia turned the project over in 1993. As a result, dwindling funds have brought the site to its recent closure.
At present, there are several seats open on the board. Three current members will rotate off the board in February, including the president and vice presidents Dr. Vivian Rogers-Price and Winette Almon, respectively. There is a tremendous need for local people with a vested interest in our community to come forward and help write that master plan. Help to fulfill it.
Individual dues — as little as $25 — are paid in January and will guarantee an invitation to the February annual meeting. Members also are encouraged in the organization’s bylaws to attend regular meetings. Inquiries can be made though the organization’s website: www.leconte-woodmanston.org or by leaving a message at 884-6500.