As Vienna navigated into the 21st century, concerned citizens wanted to determine how to preserve the town's past while looking to the future. After years of discussion, Historic Vienna, Inc. (HVI) created in winter 2003 a five-year plan that will preserve and promote Vienna's heritage, educate the public, and enhance community spirit, according to the plan's objectives.
"It was narrowing our focus rather than trying to do too much," said Laine Hyde, president of HVI. "If you try to spread yourself too thin ... you're not going to do anything well."
The five-year plan concentrates volunteer and fund-raising efforts into three different areas: the Freeman Store, the Freeman House Museum rooms and the educational and outreach programs through tours and membership meetings.
Within each of these areas, HVI made specific action plans to be completed within a certain time frame. Among the objectives for the first year of the five-year plan are the recruitment and training of additional docents, the development of a Web site and a Power Point presentation on Vienna's history and the creation of a comprehensive collections management policy.
Goals down the road include doubling the membership base and cultivating corporate memberships and sponsorships, reinstituting reenactments of the Freeman House grounds, having HVI's photograph and memorabilia collections preserved according to museum standards and keeping the Freeman Store open seven days a week.
"You accomplish more if you know where you're going," said HVI past president Paul Snodgrass.
Hyde and HVI's administrator, Margaret Kennedy, defined the plan's goals before recent events regarding the Moorefield House and Windover Heights Historic District. By having a plan, HVI can better act in the interests of historic preservation, Kennedy said.
"They needed to focus on what they were about," Kennedy said of why the plan came about.
While volunteers have staffed HVI's activities, the five-year plan also included the hiring of a part-time storekeeper for the Freeman Store, as well as a part-time administrator. Prior to the new positions, all the activities were volunteer-run. Many of HVI board recognized the need for a professional to manage the historic preservation and outreach programs.
"Now having someone there to coordinate the details is a tremendous step forward," Snodgrass said.
The board also thought that in order for HVI to continue, it needed to do more than draw upon the strength of its volunteers. Although many of the 175 to 200 volunteers contribute some time to HVI, a core group of 30 to 40 volunteers organize HIV's annual book sale and smaller events that take place throughout the year.
"The reasoning was, we have always been a totally volunteer organization, and as with any volunteer organization, people only have so much time," Hyde said.