For thirty years, the WMC has been headquartered in a century-old building called the Old Hardware Store. We have grown large and active enough to feel real limitations imposed by our current facilities and utilities, and have been strategizing how to continue achieving our mission while pursuing goals outlined in our long-term planning documents. Our activities have increased significantly in the last few years, as have our demands for space. We face increased programming space needs for lectures, classes, and community events; increased accommodation demands from visiting faculty, guest instructors, research scientists, and staff; a heightened demand for visiting artist and writer studio space; the need for more garden space and a greenhouse; and a need for a facility suited to off-season programing.
The Proposed Solution
Porphyry Place: The LaChapelle-Hunt Educational Homesite
The Wrangell Mountains Center has a unique and time-sensitive opportunity to make a much-needed expansion of our facilities by acquiring a neighboring property that was for many years the residence of Ed LaChapelle and Meg Hunt. Acquisition of the LaChapelle-Hunt homesite would offer the WMC many advantages to further our own mission while celebrating and interpreting the accomplishments of some of McCarthy’s most exemplary longstanding residents.
The WMC’s tentative name for the new facility is Porphyry Place: The LaChapelle-Hunt Educational Homesite. The name honors the fabulous mountain views from the main cabin and studio while remembering Ed and Meg’s own venture, Porphyry Productions, which hosted free performing arts events and workshops in the valley for many years. We hope you will join us in making Porphyry Place a reality which will honor Ed and Meg’s dedication to education, science, arts, and sustainable systems in their beloved mountain community. Please watch the video below to learn more.
Purchasing the LaChapelle-Hunt homesite, which is adjacent to our current facility, is the most feasible, appropriate, and practical option available to us. Expanding our McCarthy Campus onto the homesite will enable us to offer a much more robust menu of mission-specific programming to a broader constituency. The owner has given us the opportunity to purchase the homesite by April 15, 2011. The property itself, plus closing costs, modifications, and peripherals, will require $250,000.
The homesite features the following:
• 24’ x 28’, well-built, winterized cabin with exquisitely engineered solar power and water systems, two wood stoves, large covered porch, root cellar, and kitchen, complete with an operations manual written by Ed and Meg
• 9’ x 16’ greenhouse with self-actuating ventilators and shower
• Gardens with raised beds and good soil
• Composting tumblers
• 8’ x 16’ sauna, shower, and laundry facilities (Staber washing machine and a 275 gallon water tank)
• Two woodsheds, one fuel shed, and a tool shed
• 16’ x 20’ two-story structure with well-appointed workshop and pantry on the ground level, with wood stove, and beautiful upstairs studio and library, with roof-mounted solar panels which provide sustainable power to the property
• Two functional wells – one low-flow well for garden water, and one new well meant to service the main buildings
• A free-standing 10’ x 10’ studio with a skylight and small wood burning stove
• Seven lots, including a bit of undeveloped land near McCarthy Creek
Two neighboring properties are owned by friends of the Wrangell Mountains Center, including one board member.
The WMC hopes to honor Ed and Meg by utilizing their main cabin and upstairs studio/library as multipurpose classrooms, lecture halls, and community spaces for educational programs in the arts and sciences. We envision their entire property, in conjunction with the Hardware Store, serving as a demonstration site for sustainable, off-grid systems. Resident artists and writers could live and work on-site. Staff and special guests could utilize the shower and sauna. The garden and greenhouse would feed visitors, students, and staff. The kitchen in the cabin, situated as it is in a space large enough to accommodate an audience, could permit stove-based wildcrafting workshops (home canning, traditional cooking, bread making, fermentation, etc.). Other outbuildings could allow for increased storage space. The open space may allow for on-site housing. Our existing Hardware Store facility, joined with the adjacent Porphyry Place, will constitute a complete, vibrant campus in McCarthy.
The Importance of Private Donations
Sustaining the Wrangell Mountains Center’s mission while preserving the legacy of Ed LaChapelle and Meg Hunt will require the active participation and investment of our alumni and friends, local neighbors and businesses, committed scientists and artists, and all who share Ed and Meg’s vision and generosity towards the sustainable, inspired future of the McCarthy community.
The opportunity for acquiring funds for the LaChapelle-Hunt homesite presents a time-sensitive challenge. Meg Hunt has offered the WMC the homesite at a reduced market value; contingent, however, to the sale closing by April 15, 2011. Therefore, the WMC is seeking private donations as soon as possible.
Our immediate goal is to raise $250,000 in private donations to cover the purchase price and some start-up costs for adaptations to the existing structures. We have raised over $229,000 thus far and are working hard to achieve our goal.
A Fitting Memorial
Many people within the Wrangell Mountains Center community fondly remember the late Ed LaChapelle and his long-time partner, Meg Hunt. Throughout his 35 year residency in the Wrangells, Ed, a renowned authority on avalanches, glaciers, and solar power, was not only an avid supporter of scientific research and off-the-grid sustainability, but also worked with Meg, master gardener, performer and professor of Orissi dance, to found and sponsor Porphyry Productions, a nonprofit devoted to presenting free public performances in the Wrangells from 1999-2007. They were also long-time supporters of the WMC, and, in fact, our first college program was based from their cabin nearly 30 years ago. Meg’s offer to sell her beloved homesite to the WMC below market value is the latest example of the couple’s enduring legacy of goodwill and passion for this unique place.
We are happy to support this campaign and we hope the response will make it successful. We ♥ the WMC, its staff, and directors and thank you for everything you do to make this community more educated, inspired, vibrant, aware, and happier!
Also, Ed & Meg hold a dear place in our hearts and we are motivated to donate especially in honor of them. They were some of our earliest and dearest friends, and they helped us tremendously when we needed support and guidance. We feel like maybe we are 'paying back' a bit of our debt to them for all they gave us over the years.
Best of luck with this endeavor!
Tamara & Stephens Harper"