by Steve Stanfield, PDG 2006-07
The long-awaited celebration of the museum at the historic outdoor pool at Warm Springs, Georgia - dedicated to the memory of Ann Henderson Johnson, our first female District Governor (1998-99) - will take place on Saturday, October 22 from 10 am - 2 pm. The museum not only tells the story of Warm Springs and Polio treatment, but it also tells the story of the quest to eradicate Polio from the face of the earth.
Many Rotarians and Rotary Clubs donated to the refurbishing of the museum and to the Adopt a Cottage Program - all in the name of PDG Ann. This celebration will be a special day for all of us - and includes a complimentary catered luncheon. District Governor George Granade and I want to see you there; we need to have you register on the district website by October 14 (just follow this link to get there) so that we can let the caterer know how many people will attend.
Shortly after Ann’s passing, Lamar Johnson, Ann’s husband, approached me and ask if I could help finding a fitting memorial to Ann. We decided on Warm Springs, Georgia. Roosevelt Warm Springs is a special place and Ann raised money for handicap tennis courts – a signature project during her year as District Governor. After working through the “Great Recession” of 2008 – 2009 and raising funds for several years we finally had enough money to proceed with the project but no viable venue. Our initial effort to help Roosevelt Warm Springs put in a museum never quite made it.
Just before the COVID pandemic we reached an agreement with Roosevelts’ Little White House, which is in the care of the State of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to provide the funds to refurbish the museum at the outdoor pool. This pool is what brought Franklin Roosevelt to Warm Springs in 1924 - long before he became President in 1933. The Little White House is under the Directorship of Robin Glass. It seemed to be a perfect fit to tell the story of Polio Eradication and Rotary’s part in the eradication effort.
The existing museum at the pool had not been refurbished in approximately 25 years. We used funds raised for paint, carpet, new lighting, new signage, and new exhibit cases. The museum at the pool is now dedicated to District Governor Ann’s memory and a fitting display case has her Rotary memorabilia. Many Rotarians and Rotary Clubs also donated money in Ann’s memory to the Adopt a Cottage program at Roosevelt Warm Springs. Bradley Cottage was remodeled using money from this program. We still have money in the Adopt a Cottage program and as cottages are selected for renovation by the State of Georgia, we will provide funds to assist in those renovations.
The pool museum has turned out to be the perfect location for the Ann Johnson Museum. The State of Georgia operates the museum during the same hours that the Little White House is open. The cost of a ticket to the Little White House also allows touring of the Historic Outdoor Pool Museum.
Thank you for your donations and your support. I invite you and your Rotary Clubs to visit the museum and to join us for the Rotary event. As soon as the State decides on the date for the Rotary opening a notice will be sent to donors and clubs. A Rotary grand opening event is planned for the near future. The date is to be set by the State of Georgia DNR and a save the date and invitation will be send out to the Rotary Clubs of District 6900 and friends of Ann Johnson.