Admission fee to be charged at Faulkners house
June 29, 2005
By Jeffrey Alford
OXFORD, Miss. — Visitors to William Faulkners Rowan Oak are asked to pay a $5 admission charge to tour the historic home beginning July 1.
The University of Mississippi, which owns the 160-year-old farmhouse that Faulkner bought in 1930 for $6,000, announced it has instituted an admission fee to view the house. The grounds continue to be open to the public and students also will be admitted to the house without charge.
Each year, more than 20,000 visitors from around the world come to see where the man generally regarded as Americas finest 20th century novelist lived and worked. The house was recently reopened to the public after a two-year, $1.3 million renovation.
“It was almost inevitable considering the budget constraints we face,” said Albert Sperath, director of the university museum and historic houses. “Maintaining Rowan Oak with numerous outbuildings and grounds is expensive and ongoing.”
For example, renovation of the house included the installation of a museum-quality climate control system that drove utility bills up to $700-$900 a month, Sperath said. Voluntary donations have provided only about half the income needed to meet expenses for utilities, general maintenance, salaries for student assistants and other operating expenses, he said.
The former homes of other authors typically charge an admission fee. Admission to Mark Twains house in Connecticut is $12 for adults and $10 for students. Harriet Beecher Stowes Vermont house charges $8 for adults and $4 for children.
Three years ago, the Rowan Oak Society was created to establish a $3 million endowment for the upkeep of the house and grounds. More than half a million dollars in gifts and pledges have been made to date. Fulfilling the endowment may allow the university to eliminate the admission fee, Sperath said.
Tax deductible contributions on behalf of Rowan Oak can be made to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677, or online at www.umf.olemiss.edu.
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