Save the Beebe ranch for future readers

This is not my usual blog post. I write today in support of the Museum of Chincoteague Island’s efforts to save the Beebe ranch.

Those in the know remember the Beebe children from Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague. This wonderful little book with its endearing Wesley Dennis illustrations was one of the first books I read myself. After Dr. Seuss, of course.

Paul and Maureen are gone though Billy Beebe, who appeared in the movie version of Misty, and his wife Bonnie still live in the house where Misty lived and won so many hearts. The Beebe family wants to sell the 10-acre property to help their aging family. They have gotten an offer from a developer but the museum hopes to raise enough funds to match the offer and preserve this farm for young readers forever.

As it says on the website, time is of the essence.

“The Beebe family has reached out to the Museum of Chincoteague in the hopes that the museum could acquire the property and maintain it as the ranch. Allowing it to be incorporated into the museum, would help protect it for many years to come. Because of the circumstances, the museum has been given one month to see if they can generate the funds to purchase the property.”

The museum’s board of directors decided unanimously to sponsor the fundraiser, according to Cindy Faith, the museum’s executive director. It was fitting with the museum’s “mission to preserve and protect and tell the history of the island,” she said.

“It is a very big challenge.” Faith said they are doing their best to get the word out to the millions of people who have read the book and the thousands who have come to see the Pony Swim as well as horse lovers everywhere.

Marguerite Henry’s book is truly loved on Chincoteague, Faith said. ” It means a lot to people.”

The deadline for the fundraiser is March 20. “There is a possibility it may be extended,” noted Pankey Nelson, the museum’s Road Scholar coordinator.

The goal is $625,000. Because donations have been mailed in, delivered in person or by phone, as well as posted on the Go Fund Me page, every day the museum gets one step closer to success, according to Faith.

She said everyone in the small, close-knit town is rooting for this project–as are the Beebe’s. “They have dedicated their life to keeping it,” Faith said.

If they are successful, the museum will preserve the property as much as possible. Faith envisions rebuilding the barn that burned in recent years, with room for educational purposes.

Chincoteague has special meaning to me since it’s been our family vacation spot for many years. Plus, this town of charming streets, wild ponies and ocean beaches serves as the backdrop for my book FEARLESS SUMMER: RETURN TO CHINCOTEAGUE. Without the places and people of Chincoteague, my PG-rated romance could not be the same book.

If you feel moved to donate a few bucks to save the family homestead for all those who love Misty, Paul and Maureen, there’s a GoFundMe page. Or visit the museum’s website to make a donation. If you prefer, you can even call or send your gift by snail mail. If you’re in the area, stop by.

Hurry. One month isn’t a long time to save a literary landmark.

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