Bush Childhood Home 10th Anniversary
April 10, 2016
The Bush Childhood Home celebrates 10 years this month as an historical site as well as a reflection of the time.
“Not only is it here to give insight to the Bush family, but also to what life is like in Midland during the 1950s,” executive director Paul St. Hilaire said. “This is also the first home listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Monday is the 10th anniversary of the opening of the George W. Bush Childhood Home, and a public event is planned for this afternoon. With free tours, lapel pins souvenirs and complimentary books for children, St. Hilaire wants the celebration to remind Midlanders not to forget this piece of history in their own backyard.
St. Hilaire, who has been executive director for eight years, has seen the museum’s outreach grow.
“We’ve seen a lot of families come back repeatedly and I’ve seen a tremendous benefit to area children,” he said.
The benefit is mostly through the Third Thursday Reading Program: Children come to the house for a reading with refreshments and a free copy of the featured book.
“Our reading program began five years ago and speaks to the Laura Bush Literacy Program. It’s our way of honoring both first ladies, Laura and Barbara, who were keen on such programs,” he said.
Interest in the home has come from all over the world. The Bush childhood home has hosted guests and history and presidential enthusiasts from 83 foreign countries.
Such visitors are a mix of people traveling through to those seeking out the home.
“We had one man fly out from Paris to Dallas. Then he drove to Midland to visit the home,” St. Hilaire said. “We periodically hear these stories and they’re very touching.”
He has also seen visitors from Russia, Myanmar and China as well as from all over the U.S. About 60,000 people have visited the home since it opened on April 11, 2006.
Perhaps the most exciting visits, though, were from President George W. Bush. The former Midlander has been back to his old home three times.
“The three visits by the president in October 2008, 2010 and November 2014 were definite milestones in the home’s history,” St. Hilaire said. “Two coincided with a new book and one was a fundraiser for Congressman Mike Conaway. When he first saw his room, he was clearly taken aback. Those were very special days for us.”
The Bushes lived there from 1951 to 1955, when they moved to a larger home on Sentinel Drive. The Ohio Avenue home then had three other owners until it was purchased by the nonprofit corporation, George W. Bush Childhood Home Inc., in 2001. A meticulous restoration project erased layers of years back to the home’s original state.
The home was built in 1939 at a cost of $4,700. The Bushes purchased it for $9,000 in 1951. St. Hilaire said that it took a half million dollars to restore the home.
“You can definitely see the variance there,” he said with a laugh.
With its original knotty pine interiors and period furniture, the childhood home feels like a step back in time. But St. Hilaire doesn’t forget about the future.
“Our next step is to look into building a permanent exhibit gallery and have a state-of-the-art education center,” he said. “Plus, we’ll be furnishing the remainder of the home with more period pieces.”
The museum is hosting 10th Anniversary Celebration, a ticketed event that honors the founding board members, on April 28 at the Horseshoe. The business casual event will feature dinner, a silent auction and music by the Josh Tatum Band.
“This is our way of honoring those founding board members and say thank you for taking that risk and chance and dedicated to following through,” St. Hilaire said.
But he said much of what is done at the Bush Childhood Home could not happen without the help of his volunteers.
He has about 35 regular volunteers, and is always in need of others. He encourages Midlanders to consider joining the Bush Childhood Home team.
“Our people are very dedicated and invaluable to our operation. We can never thank them enough. And we always keep an eye out for more volunteers. We only require one three-hour shift a month,” he said. “And they can meet people from all around the world or special guests who drop by” — such as a former president or first lady.
Read more: Bush Childhood Home celebrates a decade of history and legacy - MRT.com: Culture http://www.mrt.com/life/culture/article_a2bd0126-fdcf-11e5-bb82-af83954b3c88.html#ixzz45iW2kt3I
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Tues–Sat 10 AM – 5 PM, Sun 2–5 PM
Tours given until 4:30 PM
Closed Mondays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day
1412 West Ohio Avenue
Midland, Texas 79701
Phone: (432) 685-1112