Theodore G. Shuey, Jr., Brig. Gen. ARNG (RET). Chair - Staunton, VA
Bryan Le Beau, Ph.D. Vice Chair - Leavenworth, KS
Harry J. Warthen, III, L.L.B. Secretary - Richmond, VA
Amy McCormick Diduch Ph.D. Treasurer - Staunton, VA
Bernadette McCarron Kincheloe Governance Chair - Staunton, VA
John Milton Cooper, Jr., Ph.D. Honorary President - Washington, DC
Peter F. deVaux Honorary Chair - Bellingham, WA
Danna Bell - Silver Spring, MD
Frank Carey - Waynesboro, VA
Sahr Conway-Lanz, Ph.D. - Baltimore, MD
Ray Cubbage Ed.D. - Staunton, VA
Amy Mace Davenport - Staunton, VA
Senator John S. Edwards - Roanoke, VA
Sam Graham, M.D. - Goochland, VA
Frederick P. Hitz - Charlottesville, VA
Thomas J. Knock, Ph.D. - Dallas, TX
Jacqueline Groah Kurtz - Staunton, VA
Beverly S. "Cheri" Moran - Staunton, VA
Emily Thomas Reed - Staunton, VA
Robert S. Roberson - Williamsburg, VA
Gregory B. Robertson, J.D. - Richmond, VA
The Honorable Chris Saxman - Henrico, VA
Mary G. Shockey - Millwood, VA
Allston J. Stubbs, III, M.D. - Winston-Salem, NC
Wanda T. Williams - Annapolis Junction, MD
Originally incorporated as the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation in 1938, the original mission of the Birthplace Foundation was:
“To purchase, preserve and maintain the birthplace…to the end that the said property might be forever set apart as a National Shrine, dedicated to the ideals, and purposes for which Woodrow Wilson lived and died---that men of every nation and of all time might have a fairer opportunity to enjoy the fruits of democracy and thus be the better enabled to attain the mental, moral, and spiritual development 1ntended for them by their Divine Creator.”
The funds to purchase the Historic Manse came from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation of New York and the Virginia General Assembly. The Birthplace foundation purchased the Manse from Mary Baldwin College as the College had purchased the home from the Staunton Presbyterian Church in 1925. It was during this time that the Garden Club of Virginia installed the beautiful restoration garden behind the Manse. Leading that charge was GCV President Emily Pancake Smith who would serve as one of the twenty-one original trustees of the Birthplace Foundation.
The original trustees came from variety of backgrounds. Two were U.S. Senators, two were university presidents, and several were associated with Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet. This first President of the Foundation was Mrs. Frances Witz Hull. Mrs. Hull was raised in Staunton and was married to U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull (who would later win the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create the United Nations). The first vice-president of the board was United States Senator Carter Glass of Lynchburg Virginia, while United States Senator Harry Byrd of Winchester served as second vice-president. The Treasurer of the Foundations was Mr. Jesse Jones, who then headed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and later became United States Secretary of Commerce under FDR. The Secretary and Assistant Treasurer of the Foundation was Mrs. Emily Pancake Smith of Staunton. The most enthusiastic supporter of this effort, although not a Trustee, was Mrs. Edith Bolling Wilson, President Wilson’s widow.
Two college presidents, Mr. J.L. Newcomb of the University of Virginia and Mr. John Stewart Bryan of the College of William and Mary served as original trustees. Additionally, Miss Charlotte Noland, founder and headmistress of Foxcroft School also served on the original board.
Leaders in business and industry included Mr. Richard Wilmer Bolling, Brother-in-law of President Wilson and founder of the building firm of R. W. Bolling Co. Bolling built several diplomatic residences in DC including the Indian Embassy, the French Embassy, and the Embassy of the Netherlands. Mrs. Edna Meredith, widow of Edwin Thomas Meredith, Secretary of Agriculture and founder of Meredith Publishing. Staunton businessmen Michael Kivlighan and Mr. E. W. Opie Publisher of the Staunton Newsleader were local representatives of business to the board. General Opie would go on to be the President of the Foundation from 1944 to 1956. Additionally, he was appointed by President Eisenhower to serve as the national chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Centennial Commission in 1956. Opie’s son, Evarts W. Opie Jr would later serve as President of the Foundation from 1993-1999.
Mr. Norman Davis, Chairman of the American Red Cross, and the president of the Council on Foreign Relations had served as President Wilson’s Assistant Secretary of Treasury and later served as Wilson’s Undersecretary of State. In 1938, he was named chairman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Mr. Edward R. Stettinius, Chairman of U.S. Steel was also an original member. Stettinius later served as Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt, and was the First United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
Several attorneys were involved with the founding of the Birthplace. These include D. Lawrence Groner, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit; Mr. Lewis C. Williams of Richmond, who went on to found Williams Mullen, now the third largest firm in Virginia; Frank L. Polk, name partner of New York City Firm Davis, Polk, and Wardwell. Polk had served as Wilson’s Secretary of State from 1919-1920; Floridus S. Crosby, Staunton City Circuit Court Judge, and Mr. L. W. H. Peyton, a prominent attorney from Staunton.
Three strong community leaders were also original trustees. Emily Pancake Smith of Staunton Virginia was known as the “grand dame of Staunton”. Smith served as president of the Garden Club of Virginia, founded the popular Virginia Historic Garden Week that draws thousands each year. She was a member of the Virginia Board of Visitors, the Board of Trustees for Mary Baldwin College and the board of King’s Daughters Hospital. Mrs. Edith Kennedy Sands of Middleburg was a founder of County Conservation Committee "to preserve the county as Nature wrought it." Her husband, Mr. Daniel Sands, was president of the Middleburg Bank, and was the founder of the Middleburg Spring Races. Mrs. Martha H. Hitchcock, widow of Former U.S. Senator Gilbert Hitchcock (Nebraska). Senator Hitchcock was a newspaper publisher and after his death, she became a major stockholder and board member of the World Publishing Company. In 1944, she established the Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation to honor her husband’s memory.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace, now officially known as the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, has grown to become a major educational resource and cultural attraction. It is the only Virginia Presidential site west of the Blue Ridge and the only landmark commemorating the life and public service of a 20th century President, the eighth and currently last president born in Virginia.
Because of the foresight of individuals who worked diligently in the past to preserve the Birthplace, and through the generosity and support of all those who came after, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library can continue to present the story of Woodrow Wilson-the man, the President and his life and times.
First members of the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation
Mrs. Frances Witz Hull - Spouse U.S. Secretary of State - Washington D.C
Mr. Carter Glass - U.S. Senator of Virginia - Lynchburg, VA
Mr. Harry Flood Byrd - U.S. Senator of Virginia - Winchester, VA
Mr. Jesse R. Jones - Reconstruction Finance Corporation - Washington D.C.
Mr. Norman Davis - Chairman, American Red Cross - Washington, D.C
Mr. Richard Wilmer Bolling - Building Contractor - Washington, D.C.
Mr. D. Lawrence Groner - U.S. Court of Appeals Judge - Norfolk, VA
Mr. Lewis C. Williams - Attorney - Richmond, VA
Mr. J. L. Newcomb - President, University of Virginia - Charlottesville, VA
Mr. Floridus S. Crosby - Staunton Circuit Court Judge - Staunton, VA
Mr. John Stewart Bryan - President, College of William & Mary - Williamsburg, VA
Mrs. Edna Meredith - Meredith Publishing Co. - Des Moines, IA
Mrs. Emily Smith - Community Leader - Staunton, VA
Mrs. Edith Sands - Community Leader - Middleburg, VA
Mrs. Martha H. Hitchcock - Community Leader - Washington D.C
Miss Charlotte Noland - Headmistress, Foxcroft School - Middleburg, VA
Mr. E. W. Opie - Newspaper Publisher - Staunton, VA
Mr. L. W. H. Peyton - Attorney - Staunton, VA
Mr. Michael Kivlighan - Businessman - Staunton, VA
Mr. Frank L. Polk - Former U.S. Secretary of State - New York, NY
Mr. Edward R. Stettinius - Chairman, U.S. Steel - New York, NY