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1976 Alumna Grace Gary to Offer Commencement Address

Gary is executive director of Nemours Mansion and Gardens in Delaware.

3/11/2009 2:49:09 PM


Grace Gary '76

LYNCHBURG – The executive director of Nemours Mansion and Gardens in Wilmington, DE and 1976 alumna will provide the college’s 2009 Commencement address. Grace Gary will speak at the 2009 Commencement in the Dell at 10 a.m. on May 17. She was selected to speak by the Class of 2009, which consists of 140 undergraduates and 4 graduate students.

After graduation from R-MWC, Gary earned her master’s degree in architectural history from the University of Virginia.

Under her leadership, Nemours recently completed the $40 million first phase of what will eventually be a ten-year, total restoration of the 222-acre estate. During the first phase the 47,000 square foot Mansion was completely restored and state-of-the-art mechanical, electrical, and life-safety systems were installed; the principal formal gardens were restored (approximately sixty acres); and a new Visitor Center was built. In addition, Gary oversaw the development of exhibits for the Visitor Center, the production of a 17.5 minute introductory film, and a complete revision of the interpretative tour of the Mansion; and she co-wrote a 320 page book on the life of Alfred I. duPont and the estate, which will be published in the fall of 2009.

Later phases of the restoration will include the remaining formal gardens and fifteen outbuildings at Nemours and will also result in a sustainable plan for water management for the estate. The restoration of Nemours is believed to be the largest privately-funded restoration project in the United States at this time. In 2008, phase one received the highest award given by the Pennsylvania State Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (the principal architectural firm for the project is registered in PA).

While a student at R‑MWC, she was elected president of Student Government, served as co-editor of Helianthus 1974, served as editor of the college literary magazine, was director of the sophomore class play ("Lysistrata"), served as the student representative to the Board of Trustees, and was a member of Sock and Buskin, ETA and Delta Mu. Since graduation she has been active in the R-MWC Alumnae Association which she has served as class secretary, area alumnae representative, chairman of the nominating committee, and alumnae representative to the Board of Trustees.

Prior to assuming her position with Nemours, she served as executive director of the Aspen (CO) Historical Society; executive director of Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, LA, where she also oversaw an extensive restoration; the founding director of Colonial Williamsburg's "Williamsburg Tourism Leadership Center"; executive director of Preservation Pennsylvania; and director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Mid-Atlantic Regional Office.

In 1976, she was one of the first women to complete the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company's "Squadron Training" program and to become a "tire room" supervisor.

Gary also frequently serves as a "Study Leader" for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's international tour program. She has lead 31 tours and lectured on architectural history in countries as divergent as Uzbekistan, Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Peru, and China. She is also the author of two volumes in the National Trust's "Information" series, numerous articles on historic preservation, and "The Crisis Handbook", which has been used extensively by statewide preservation organizations across the US.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations