Having been invited to write the 2016 end-of-year newsletter for Patterson School Foundation, I will begin by introducing myself. I am the most recent member elected to the PSF Board of Trustees, joining eleven others, including my son Jesse Plaster, architect, who serves as Facilities Director for the campus. My great-grandfather Hugh A. Dobbin was Patterson School’s second Headmaster, from 1913 to 1936, and Cap Wiese was a good friend and hunting companion of my father, during the years I was attending “sock hops” in the Stoney Gym.
PSF is committed to the regeneration of the Patterson School campus and the 1400 acre property, including environmental stewardship, alternative energy development and a focus on local food and economics. We have recently leased over 100 acres for the production of pasture-raised beef, to improve our farmland and dairy buildings. Also, Blue Ridge Apiaries has established a colony of beehives on our Buffalo Cove property, which will increase pollination of any agricultural produce. Our goal to develop a model farm will reclaim our century-old history while empowering locals with new employment.
We are presently collaborating with numerous partners to support educational and economic development in this rural area. Our partnership with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) in Boone will teach an educational curriculum for upcoming organic incubator farmers.
Our Caldwell County Public Schools’ STEAM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/ Agriculture and Math) teaches more than 7000 students and teachers annually during the school year and summer camps, including students and staff from Alexander, Ashe, Burke, Catawba, Newton-Conover and Wilkes counties. Most funds for program development are derived from grants, and to date the Steam Program has received over $1 million in grants and private donations since its inception in August, 2012.
Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation has constructed a 360-panel Community Solar Garden on campus, which will enable the Patterson Science Center’s STEAM Program students and visitors to experience the production of solar energy first-hand. More than 300 Blue Ridge customers have signed up to get a portion of their electricity from one or more of the solar panels installed on campus.
Our first health retreat was held on campus in the early summer, with owners and staff from Empower Fitness in Durham, NC. Participants enjoyed delicious, locally- grown meals during a long weekend filled with yoga practice, hiking on Ripshin Mountain, and learning expressive writing techniques, among other activities. They were housed in the (1965) Wiese Dorm, which was upgraded and outfitted with brand new curtains and other decor for the occasion.
Recent renovations to Gard Hall and Hickory Hall Kitchen and Dining Room have also improved their attractiveness for weddings and retreats, etc. The first floor of Gard Hall will be re-opened as a Community Library in January, and the renovated basement of Wiese Dorm has served as an ideal location for art classes taught last summer in encaustic and mixed media.
The second annual Cyclocross brought 400 riders to campus, several of whom stayed overnight in Wiese Dorm and enjoyed breakfast early next morning in the Dining Room before rushing off to their next event in Boone. The Kruger Brothers Concert held in mid-November saw an adaptive re-use of the Dining Room as concert venue, and the two events raised $6000 for restoration work on roofs, gutters and downspouts. The concert received support from the Caldwell Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources.
PSF has just been awarded a $20,000 Z. Smith Reynolds grant to fund a Program Director to co-ordinate our new organic incubator farm and to lead other income – generating streams to restore Patterson’s educational legacy. A $500 Community Grant from Walmart has recently been received, and a grant application is outstanding at the moment from the Millholland Foundation in Hickory, NC.
PSF has recently joined the Caldwell and Wilkes County Chambers of Commerce, and is working with both the Western NC Office of Historic Preservation and with Preservation North Carolina, in order to proceed wisely with restoration efforts. We hope to gain internet soon for Palmyra, Gard Hall Library, and other primary campus buildings.
Our three duplexes and the Chaplain’s House are being maintained and rented, and the lovely Kistler Cottage will be restored and made available for rent as soon as funds are available. The fully restored commercial kitchen is being leased by the “Essie & Olive” Popsicle Company, whose owners create delicious, gourmet frozen treats in the recently-renovated Hickory Hall Kitchen.
PLEASE GIVE US YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION so we can keep you aware of all that is happening now on the Patterson campus, and do visit us when you can! Our Farm-to-Table Dinner Series will present monthly dinners prepared by the creative chefs from the High Country and Charlotte during the months of January, February and March. We’ve saved a seat for you!
‘Tis the season for giving! Please make your tax-deductible gift to Patterson School Foundation to assist in Patterson’s regeneration and restoration. You may donate directly through PayPal.