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Historic Odessa surpasses endowment campaign goal

Historic Odessa Endowment Plaque
Historic Odessa Foundation
Historic Odessa Endowment Plaque

The Historic Odessa Foundation this week, hosted a donor celebration to mark the completion of a major fundraising campaign.

The foundation’s Independence and Perpetuity endowment campaign exceeded its $3 million goal by $70,000 - a year ahead of schedule.

And it thanked the 175 contributors on Monday by unveiling a donor plaque created from architectural elements found on the Historic Odessa’s site.

The foundation’s board chair H. Donnan Sharp led the campaign to establish this permanent endowment to preserve her grandfather’s historic legacy in perpetuity - and says it was a huge challenge.

“Because Odessa’s a small, little town of its own we needed to preserve," said Sharp. "And we knew - or we thought - it would be a struggle. But we put the word out and apparently we’ve got more heroes and a better team than I had thought.” 

Prominent Delaware preservationist H. Rodney Sharp died in 1968 after beginning a three-decade-long, full-scale revival of old Odessa in 1938.

His granddaughter - H. Donnan Sharp - says this money assures they can continue to preserve the once thriving port town on the banks of the Appoquinimink River.

“It will be invested. And it will help us in emergencies to fill in," Sharp said. "We can add on to our programs; we’ve got the kids educational programs that we’re very interested in - we want to add to that. We’ve got all kinds of dreams that we want to build on.”

Historic Odessa is one of the largest historic sites under independent management in Delaware.

And Sharp says the endowment will allow the Historic Odessa Foundation to permanently sustain the preservation of its six historic museum properties and 72-acre site - as well as its collection of more than 7,000 decorative art objects. It will also fund its Living History educational programming and future efforts.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.