- Eudora Welty House and Garden
The Eudora Welty House and Garden continue to work closely with the Eudora Welty Foundation and the Welty Scholar-in-Residence at Millsaps College. Readers may wish to review the report submitted by the Eudora Welty Foundation, as our projects and accomplishments overlap considerably. Activities here remain brisk.
At its October 25, 2013, quarterly meeting, the Board of Directors at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History formally changed the name of this site from the Eudora Welty House to the Eudora Welty House and Garden. Two important projects sprang from this change. One was the creation of our first official logo, which received final approval in April. The other was the formulation, production, and installation of seven new interpretive signs distributed throughout the Welty garden “rooms.” These superb educational tools help forge a more explicit link between Welty’s home and its surroundings in addition to those between Welty’s labors as a writer and gardener. This project was also closely tied to festivities celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Welty garden opening to the public. Eudora Welty Foundation board member Michael Jefcoat and his wife, Evelyn, again stepped to the fore with their enthusiastic personal and financial support of this undertaking.
Education Specialist Chase Wynn took up the mantel of promoting literacy and neighborhood development by marshaling support to create the Belhaven neighborhood’s first Little Free Library. Help was readily forthcoming from a local architect and neighborhood improvement association for the design, construction, and installation of this mini library. The Little Free Library was installed in the front yard of the Eudora Welty Education and Visitors Center in early December. The “worn path” from the sidewalk to the Little Free Library clearly attests to its popularity with local residents and families.
Last year’s temporary exhibit entitled “Life Into Fiction: The Murder of Medgar Evers and ‘Where Is the Voice Coming From?’” was replaced in February by “Understanding the Medusa: Myth and Fairytale in the Fiction of Eudora Welty.” Curated by Chase Wynn with assistance from Suzanne Marrs, the exhibit introduces viewers to Welty’s lifelong love of myth and fairytales and demonstrates how she used them in her fiction. It gives special attention to the story of Perseus and Medusa through [End Page 181] a volume of Welty’s Our Wonder World, text from “Moon Lake,” “June Recital,” and “The Wanderers,” and correspondence from Welty to John Robinson, complete with her own illustration. The hallway gallery focuses on fairy tale use in Welty’s first novella, The Robber Bridegroom. This section of the exhibit displays renowned printmaker Barry Moser’s depictions of the story’s characters, published in a 1987 edition of the novel. This temporary exhibit was displayed through August in the Education and Visitors Center.
“Not Your Grandma’s Welty” was the title and topic of this year’s annual CEU program offered in February by Welty scholars Marrs and Peggy Whitman Prenshaw. Eighteen teachers assembled to converse about stories generally less familiar to high school readers, providing a more diverse sampling of Welty’s themes, tones, and styles. Stories included “The Hitchhikers,” “The Whole World Knows,” “No Place for You, My Love,” and “The Purple Hat.” Education Specialist Lee Anne Bryan helped develop and produce this workshop.
As Jeanne Luckett has reported, April 13, 2014, saw the inauguration of what we hope will become an annual event at the Eudora Welty House and Garden. In collaboration with the Eudora Welty Foundation and the C Spire Foundation, Education Specialist Lee Anne Bryan and former Welty staff member Meemie Jackson orchestrated an exceptional awards ceremony to honor this year’s Scholastic Writing Awards recipients. Approximately 300 attendees listened to heartfelt remarks by author Margaret McMullen and applauded as winners took the stage to claim their awards. It will be difficult to grow this event due to space limitations, but certainly, there are worse problems. Miss Welty would surely have been delighted and honored with such a birthday celebration.