Woodlawn’s New President Sees Busy Months Ahead

by Anne Berleant, Courtesy of The Ellsworth American 

ELLSWORTH — At their annual meeting on Jan. 30, members of the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, the board that oversees Woodlawn Museum, elected Todd Little-Siebold as president. Outgoing President Jon Marshall will remain on the board. Rosamund Rea was elected as vice president and Charles Alexander joined as a new board member.

Little-Siebold assumes leadership of the board at a time when the nonprofit seeks an executive director and continues its expansion, which has already brought renovations to the Black House and a new building for the estate’s antique carriages and sleighs.

“I’m super excited to move forward,” Little-Siebold said. “As incoming president, I said, ‘everyone relax, everything will be OK.’” In the executive director search, a “stack of applications” has already arrived, he said. “As with everything, COVID has made things more complicated … I don’t want to jinx us, but I think we’ll have an executive director in place soon.”

Interim Executive Director Phyllis Young’s term ended last December.

For the expansion project, Woodlawn is currently fundraising for the next phase, which would reconstruct the old carriage barn that was taken down last year. The new building will replicate the original one and serve as an education and event facility as well as a gift shop and visitors center and a place to store archival material.

To date, $5.6 million has been raised for the barn project. Woodlawn seeks to raise an additional $1.5 million by the end of 2021 that would bring in a matching grant.

“We’ve been at this since 2014,” Little-Siebold said. But, noting how the COVID-19 construction boom has raised costs, he added, “What we really have to do in the next month is say, for this amount of money, what can we build?”

Final designs, Planning Board review and permits are still ahead, he noted. “Our goal is to start as soon as we can.”

Th e Building Committee is scheduled to present its recommendations to the full board in April.

For the summer season, the board is developing a “COVID reopening plan,” Little-Siebold said, to see under what conditions the Black House could allow visitors and events.

“It’s hard to see our summer season being quote unquote normal,” he said. “Our real hope, that we’re really looking at carefully, is the Ellsworth Antique Show.”

With hundreds attending the annual show, Little-Siebold said, “I scratch my head and say, how can we safely do this? Dealers come from all over the country. How can that happen? We will not do it if we can’t do it safely.”

Fall children’s programs also will be reviewed to see if they can be held, he said.

“Fundraising, building, hiring an executive director — any one of those things by itself would keep us busy,” Little-Siebold said. “And we’re potentially launching a new project to enhance the trails at Woodlawn.”