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Major Gifts
Grant Acknowledgements

 Gifts Fund Avenel Projects

Avenel announces receipt of donations and grants from generous supporters and foundations.


Two grants, $12,000 from the Bedford Community Health Foundation and $6,000 from the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, will go toward the walkway from the circular drive to the handicapped ramp at the back of the house.  The Avenel Board is grateful to BCHF and GLCF for their belief in the importance of this project.  The gift from BCHF came from a first-time ask while GLCF has continued to support projects for many years.  The total given by Greater Lynchburg over the last six years has grown to $36,500.


A contribution with a note a "gift from the Boardman family in memory of our parents" also will go toward the walkway.  The late John Boardman and his daughters gave the Marilyn Moore Boardman Memorial Garden and driveway eight years ago because Mrs. Boardman, who believed in preservation and worked to help restore the house, had served on the Avenel Board. 


The memorial driveway touches the walkway, a long-awaited project that is nearing completion.  The wide brick walk being installed will allow easier access to the house for many, who previously had difficulty negotiating the lumpy ground, large gravels, cracked concrete, and steep steps. 


Another foundation made a sizable grant in December for the restoration and preservation of the 1838 smokehouse.  This foundation funds projects on properties of historical significance.  Their focus on historic preservation embraces educational opportunities for the public.  The restored smokehouse will offer another glimpse of daily life at Avenel in the 1800s. The extensive use of the house today by community groups and the demonstrated commitment of local businesses to the on-going appeal strengthened Avenel's "Restore the Smokehouse" application with this foundation.


A fourth foundation has generously given twice in the last two months to help pay for painting the vast walls of the interior halls.  The color, a vibrant yellow, the same color on the walls thirty years ago, should be seen and enjoyed.  Already a bride to-be, upon recently booking a date for her wedding, expressed joy over and approval of the color.  


The 2022-'23 appeals letter includes the town and county businesses and also garden clubs of Bedford that gave to the appeal in the months before it officially began; 350 recipients of the letter were encouraged to support the local businesses listed because of their support of  Avenel. The hearty response from these businesses, when asked in the fall of last year to give or pledge to the appeal, presented a challenge to Avenel's donor base: "Please give a donation of any amount to the appeal, and we will pay our pledge." 


In fairness to these businesses, many have already sent checks, but Avenel still needs about 20 more donors of the 122 goal to unlock the remaining pledges. (Any size donation would be welcome; no amount is too small.) 


The current Avenel Board expresses gratitude for the perennial donors who have sustained Avenel, especially during the Pandemic, those with the foresight to acquire the house and grounds and put it on the path to serving the community, those who served on previous boards, and all who come to Avenel for events, public and private.  In so many ways supporters who live near as well as many from afar have helped build a resume that enables the grant writing and the fundraising to succeed.


Book a tour this spring, plan an event, or attend Derby Day.  Let history and community life today come together as you experience Avenel.


Grants and Donations Fund Three Projects at Avenel


     The Avenel Foundation's Board of Directors announces the recent completion of three major projects made possible by two grants along with this year's annual appeal gifts from generous donors.


     The Basement Walls Stabilization Project, completed last month, was funded in full by a large grant and a most generous donation to the current appeal.  The grant came from an anonymous foundation in response to an application in the spring of last year; the donation, from a Greensboro family, the Hagans, who support historic preservation and expressed approval of the on-going restoration at Avenel. In addition to brick masonry, the basement project required cutting out six inches of concrete along the exterior walls and filling in with pea gravel to allow moisture in the basement to escape, a recommendation from Historic Resources.


     Members of the Hagan family, who toured Avenel last fall, indicated a desire to participate in the project to secure the foundation of the house.  The property had benefited from the dedication of Charles T. Hagan, patriarch of their family, who was involved in the Avenel Foundation's early work beginning 37 years ago; his family has made their gift to restore the very walls that support the house he cared about.


     Because of the Hagans' contribution to the appeal, the board was able to apply the additional appeal donations to fully fund the second of the three projects and combine the rest of the appeal gifts with a grant from the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation to finish the third.  The project finished first, the relocation of the dumpster away from the house to a back corner of the property, had been a dream, discussed at length over the course of the last few years.  The new site required a solid bed of gravel for ingress and egress of the heavy truck, but this narrow lane has eliminated tire tracks on the grass and opened a vista for wedding photography on the western side of the house, where the dumpster used to live.


      The balance of the funds raised to date from the appeal and the $5,000 grant (referred to above) from the GLCF have fully paid for the repair of the plaster ceiling in the parlor.  Visitors will no longer see the hairline cracks that marred much of the ceiling as well as the major crack that ran the entire length of the ceiling through the medallion and into the crown molding.  Due to expert craftsmanship on the ceiling this month, the parlor now boasts a perfectly smooth ceiling surrounding the medallion that depicts some of the early history of Avenel. 


     The board thanks the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation not only for its $5,000 grant toward the restoration of the parlor ceiling this year but for its year-in and year-out support.  Grants to Avenel from GLCF total $30,500 over the past five years.  These grants have helped fund the repairs on the balcony, the demolition and rebuilding of the loggia wall, the restoration of the five chimneys, the restoration of the five fireboxes, and now the revival of the parlor ceiling.  Greater Lynchburg's donations not only have aided in the preservation of Avenel but also have addressed needs throughout Central Virginia.  Contributions made to GLCF by residents of Bedford County come back to help many non-profits in the Bedford area.


    While pleased with the work that has been accomplished, the board knows there is more work ahead. 

Focus has turned to the sad condition of the barn and the smokehouse, more noticeable now that the dumpster no longer distracts from their importance.  Each building tells part of the story of Avenel's history with the smokehouse actually being original to the property (1838) and both buildings serving as popular props for wedding photography. The 2021-22 appeal, begun in November, continues with the hope that additional donations will help rescue these two buildings.


    Other fund-raising events planned for this year, including a tea in June and an Octoberfest, will support operating expenses as well as restoration. Book a tour.  Plan a party at Avenel.  Rent the porch.  On April 16 see the house and walk the grounds where 25 vendors will display and sell their wares at the Community Fair.  Avenel is open and welcoming. 

Anonymous Donation


From an anonymous foundation, Avenel received a grant of $15,875 for the repair of the basement walls.  The work on these two rooms, the very foundation of the house, is slated for late November of this year.  Avenel’s directors are grateful to the foundations that are making needed restoration possible so that Avenel can continue to be available for community and regional use. 

Bedford Bulletin - January 2021

Donations Help Avenel Survive the Pandemic

Gifts from four different sources over the past three months, combined with proceeds from several small-group events, have helped offset Avenel’s 2020 loss of rental revenue.  For each of the following philanthropic donations and grants, the Avenel Foundation’s board is truly grateful:

In October an unexpected check for $15,000 arrived from the estate of Mr. John K. Boardman, a civic leader in Bedford for many years.  Slated for part of a future landscape project, these funds will extend Avenel’s ability to continue work on the grounds which Mr. Boardman and his four daughters (Scottie, Holly, Beth, and Cathy) began in 2016.

At that time Mr. Boardman made known his wish to establish a memorial to his wife Marilyn, who had served on the Avenel board for a number of years.  As liaison between Mr. Boardman and the board, John Bond helped the Boardman family plan the memorial that resulted in an elegant brick driveway encircling a garden, which are dedicated to Mrs. Boardman.

Discussions about design and execution of the chosen project were extensive. The new brick driveway that necessitated approval from Historic Resources for use of the herring-bone pattern followed the lines of the earlier gravel one.  John notes that the brick laid in an interlocking herring-bone design provides stability to the structure of the driveway as cars round the curves. He remembers conferring with one of Mr. Boardman’s sons-in-law, who worked in the masonry business, and being involved in plans to make one pillar at the entrance taller than the other to compensate for the uneven ground on each side of the drive.

Avenel continues to benefit from the generosity of Mr. Boardman and his family who paid for the driveway and garden that grace her grounds.  A few months after its completion, the beautiful memorial was dedicated to the wife and mother they loved.

Avenel’s second major 2020 gift of the fall came from funds given by the federal government to the state and then to the county through the Cares Act.  Acting on a grant application from Avenel, the Bedford County Board of Supervisors approved Avenel’s  non-profit application and voted to disperse the full amount of the ask.

Just before Christmas notice came from the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation that a grant was being made to Avenel for $5,000 in response to an application made in September.  The ask for help to restore the brick fire boxes in five of the fireplaces only slightly exceeded the amount awarded.  Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation continues year-in and year-out to stand with Avenel as they provide resources for varied projects that enhance safety and maintenance of the house.  In addition to assisting with historic preservation, GLCF addresses an incredible number of needs all throughout Central Virginia. Contributions made to GLCF come back to help this community.

Last but certainly not least are Avenel’s loyal supporters, most of whom live in or nearby the town of Bedford.  Memorial checks began flowing in August upon the death of June B. Goode, who worked for the restoration of Avenel in the Guild and donated the royalties of Our War, in which she wrote about the life and times of Avenel over a century ago.   Once the November letter of appeal went out asking each of the three hundred households receiving the letter to give the price of a ticket ($40) or two to Derby Day and/or the holiday fundraiser, many donations have come in and continue to reach The Avenel Foundation at P.O. Box 686, Bedford, VA.  The campaign is still on; it’s not too late to be a part of this successful appeal by making a memorial gift or contributing any amount of your choosing.

Avenel Receives Grant from Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation

In response to a September 2019 grant application from The Avenel Foundation for help with its “Chimney Restoration Project,” the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation (GLCF) has sent $7,000 from The Sackett-Graves Fund. Directors on Avenel’s board greatly appreciate this vote of confidence from GLCF, a benevolent friend to Avenel on many occasions in the past.

In addition to historic preservation, GLCF embraces the arts, health care, child care and educational programs, environmental concerns, food programs to feed the hungry, health care for those in need as well as scholarships to area students for vocational and college pursuits. With the growth of GLCF’s endowment, numerous programs in Central Virginia may benefit from additional assistance.

Grant awards from GLCF along with donations from other foundations and generous individuals and businesses in the community continue to aid the board in executing the first half of Avenel’s mission statement: “The purpose of The Avenel Foundation is to rescue, restore, preserve, and protect Historic Avenel, a Bedford legacy.”

Preservation brings about expanded use of the property, thus addressing the second half of the mission statement, “and to make this unique landmark available for educational, social, business and other appropriate community uses.” To that end over the course of 2019, the house served Centra Bedford Memorial Hospital for a number of business socials last spring; the Bedford Presbyterian Church for a large gathering of 175-year celebrants taking tea on a Sunday afternoon in March; the Blue Ridge Garden Club for its birthday brunch in April as it marked its ninetieth anniversary; the American Association of University Women, Bedford Branch, for its May luncheon for scholarship winners, their parents, and the organization’s members. Of course, Avenel’s well-attended “Derby Day” again stood out as the high spot of the year's fund-raising events.

August saw the use of Avenel, donated by Avenel, to honor with a dinner culinary students from the Bedford Science &Techology Center. On the twenty-fourth of the month, at least 100 supporters of breast cancer patients and survivors attended the first-ever “BBQ to Beat Breast Cancer.” From the proceeds of this event, Avenel was able to donate $1,000 to the “Just for Me" mammography program” at Centra Bedford Memorial Hospital.

Last year weddings in September and October marked the calendar, and one lovely wedding took place OUTSIDE five days before Christmas. Brides continue to use almost every inch of the house and grounds in most ingenious ways.

We welcome your ideas, hope you approve of our work, thank our volunteers who have helped with many of these happenings, thank you for your donations, and remind those of you who would like to give to “The Chimney Restoration Project” that you can mail your donations to The Avenel Foundation, P.O. Box 686, Bedford, VA 24523.

Avenel Receives Major Donations



`  The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation has awarded The Avenel Foundation a grant of $31,350 for The Loggia Wall Restoration Project, Avenel's most expensive project in recent years. The letter of announcement thanks Avenel for the work being done in the community, which includes "BBQ to Beat Breast Cancer" Saturday, August 24, from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m on the grounds of Avenel.  This event will benefit Avenel and Bedford Centra's "Just for Me" program that provides screening mammograms to those 40 and older, who are uninsured and may never have had a mammogram..


   In addition to The Mary Morton Parsons grant, Avenel recently received a donation of $3,915 for the balcony repairs completed in the summer of 2018.  Combined with the 2017 winter grant of $6,000 from The Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation (formerly Trust), this donation checks off the expense of the balcony repairs.


  Thanks to the community's generosity from appeals, the 2018 grant of $7,500 from the Sackett-Graves Fund (administered by the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation), and last week's check from The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the brick repairs on the loggia wall have been paid.  These repairs include fixing the enormous crack discovered while the wall was being taken down.


   Still to be covered are the unanticipated peripheral costs associated with the wall:  interior framework (since none existed), repair on decaying windows, and carpentry to finish the job.  Also, raising money to pay for last summer's emergency work on the wooden steps at the main entrance remains a priority.


    Avenel's directors look forward to future projects, such as redesigning the historic landscape, hit hard by the region's boxwood blight..

Grants & Proceeds

The Avenel Foundation gratefully acknowledges a grant of $7,500.00 from the Sackett-Graves Fund, administered by the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, for Avenel's  "Loggia Wall Restoration."  Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, formerly the Greater Lynchburg Community Trust, provides financial backing to non-profit organizations in Central Virginia.  Last year a $6,000.00 grant from this same benevolent organization covered almost all of the carpentry on Avenel's back balcony.  The  work entailed replacing part of the floor as well as the bottoms of the heavy Doric columns. 


Preserving historic Avenel with attention to safety, while making it available for rentals and community events, preoccupies the work of the board of directors.  The 2018 appeal and holiday letters have brought in about $15,000.00 so far.  Thus, with this grant from the Sackett-Graves Fund, Avenel is pleased to have raised in the last six months about half of the funds needed to restore the bulging, cracked wall.  Additional funding is needed to pay for the interior framing, not included in the grant application.


All who love and work for Avenel appreciate and thank the citizens of Bedford, Bedford County, and beyond along with the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation.  Knowing that your money comes back to our community, please consider giving to this foundation at 1100 Commerce Street, Lynchburg, VA  24504.  You can also give directly to The Avenel Foundation,  PO Box 686, Bedford, Va 24523.

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