Historic Odessa is hoping for financial recovery in 2021
Indoor tours of the historic homes were halted, education programming was canceled and no lectures were held after the pandemic hit in March, causing financial strain on the Historic Odessa Foundation.
Executive director Debbie Buckson is hoping for a complete recovery in 2021.
“We are looking for normalcy in 2021. We are looking forward to reopening the museum and welcoming the public back. We want to be able to share these beautiful properties with our community again,” she said. “It has been a very difficult year for us financially, so we are looking forward with high hopes for a really terrific 2021.”
Now, the foundation is offering small-group outdoor walking tours of the houses, and people driving through the town can see a Christmas lights display, but she wants to truly welcome the public next year.
“Our support base has been very generous with us. Our membership has really come through for us over the course of the last year. We have a lot of loyal supporters. We just can't thank the MOT community enough for that support. It has really made a difference for us.” the executive director said.
As soon as they can do it safely, they want to restart their educational programming where children participate in interactive workshops that focus on different parts of Odessa’s history.
“We have truly missed having the kids … having kids trotting [our streets] every day during the fall and spring semesters,” she said. “That has been hard on our volunteers who love to give the tours to the kids.”
Not only do they want to bring kids back, but they want to expand their programming. Buckson said HOF has a couple of big projects underway, including a book about the HOF collection that they are actively researching now. She said it is slated to publish in 2023.
“Our local history is so rich. We have so much more research than we had even 10 years ago. We are looking forward to being that kind of programing and really get up close and personal again for people and our supporters and people who love history,” Buckson said. “We are in a people business and not being able to give guided tours, not being able to have lectures, not being able to use the site as we want to use it has been hard.
“Our biggest hopes are to be able to bring new programing, fresh programming in a safe and healthy way to our entire community and the state. We got big hopes for the future.”