Neither thundershowers nor temperatures that hovered around 90 degrees dampened the spirits of about 100 persons who gathered yesterday for a benefit luncheon and talent program at the Frederick Douglass Home in Southeast Washington.
Sponsored by the D.C. League of Republican Women, the afternoon program raised about $500 for restoration of the Victorian house of the former slave and abolitionist.
"We hope it will start something," said Elaine Dym, president of the group. "It may not get them a new fence, but it's something."
Four projects are planned for the Douglass house, which was entrusted to the National Park Service in 1962, according to Burnice Kearney, superintendent of the National Capital Region of the National Park Service.
They include a structural analysis of the house to determine how many people can tour the house safely, replacement of the chain link fence that surrounds the house, historically accurate landscaping and treatment of the windows to protect the interior from the sun's ultraviolet rays.
The projects are expected to cost $100,000, Kearney said, adding, "We are in a position to accept all sizes of donations."
Yesterday's festivities began with a chicken luncheon at St. Theresa's Catholic Church at 13th and V streets SE, then moved to the Douglass house at 1411 W St. SE where yellow- and white-striped tents covered the sloping front lawn.
D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) was honorary chairwoman, and Hope Helen Hander, 1986 D.C. Cherry Blossom Princess, was mistress of ceremonies.
Hander urged those attending the benefit to "tell others about the home to help maintain its historical significance."
About 20 persons provided the entertainment, which ranged from singing and dancing to dramatic readings and modeling. Despite the sound of distant thunder and occasional drops of rain blown off nearby cedar trees, the audience seldom seemed distracted.
"It was just super," said Dagmar Christensen, a District resident. "Such a variety of talent. I've been here since 1935 and I never knew this house was here. I'm going through the house. I wouldn't miss this for anything."