On behalf of the WMA Museum Executive Committee, I am pleased to announce that, subject to final approval by the Court, the parties have reached general agreement on settlement terms that will rescue the stained-glass windows from the Wentworth Chapel and have them relocated to the Museum’s Hall of Honor. We have also secured a number of chapel chairs (more on that below). Once approved by the court, all parties will dismiss all claims and dispense with the litigation.
To be clear, we have done what we believed was in the best interest of securing these windows and what/who they stand for, but the settlement is not without the possibility of critique. Our mission is, and will remain the preservation of Wentworth’s sacred history. The terms of the agreement, like any compromise, brought both sides together. Each side gave more than they wanted. In the end, the settlement achieved by the Museum was much less than the bank/receiver’s initial offer, and it did not require replacing the windows (this was a big hurdle we had to overcome during negotiations). The high-level terms of the settlement are as follows:
The Wentworth Military Academy Museum (the “Museum”) wants to purchase the 5 stained glass windows in the Chapel building. The Bank and the Receiver are agreeable to the sale of the Windows on the following terms:
• The purchase price is $65,000. Said funds are payable to the Bank upon execution of an agreement formalizing these terms, but subject to approval by the Receivership court;
• Included in the purchase price will be the stained-glass windows and the back 3 sections of chairs in the Chapel balcony. Said chairs will not include the main rows in the front section of the Chapel balcony; for clarity, the “front section” is the first three rows of the chapel balcony (these will remain in place). All rear rows (approximately 13-17 rows of 6 seats to a row) will be removed.
• The Museum and its contractors will follow all proper procedures as it relates to lead paint or any other environmental issue that may be encountered in connection with the removal of the windows; however, neither the Museum nor its contractors shall be responsible for remediation of existing lead paint or other existing environmental issue(s) encountered. The work will otherwise be performed to current standards.
• The Museum will remove the 5 stained-glass windows and will install/reinstall painted plywood sheeting (and existing plexiglass) on the exterior of the building for protection; replacement windows will not be installed by (or at the further expense of) the Museum.
• The Museum will repair any damage to the property/building caused by the removal of the windows/chairs; in the event of any disputed claims of property damage, the parties agree to seek informal resolution from the Judge who will continue to preside over the receivership.
• The Museum will complete this work within 30 days of the date of the agreement formalizing these terms; and the Museum will be permitted to access campus to perform work during the entirety of Labor Day weekend. To the extent the removal cannot be completed over Labor Day weekend, further arrangements will be coordinated.
• The Museum will agree, in writing, (a) to release CBRE, Inc. and the Bank from all claims, (b) not to pursue any further litigation against the Bank or CBRE, Inc. on behalf of WMA or any other entity during the receivership or any time thereafter, and (c) not to impede the sale of the Receivership Property either directly or indirectly in any manner including coordination directly or indirectly to block any offer to purchase that may be presented to the Court.
Please be mindful that the Museum’s contractors will do their best to remove the windows without damage. However, we cannot guarantee they will not be damaged. As in ANY move, it is always possible; perhaps even likely that items will be damaged. If damage occurs, we will get them repaired. Plain and simple. Cost and time are also key considerations. The longer these windows stay in the Chapel, the more likely they are to be vandalized and/or succumb to the deterioration of campus.
Thanks to the generous dedicated-donation commitments of Greg Forman, Douglas Gourlay and David Traub, the Museum currently has funding commitments for approximately 60% of the settlement. We have secured a line of credit with our bank to cover the balance of the cost in the interim as fundraising continues.
As noted above, we have also secured three full sections of balcony chairs. The Museum will convert some of these chairs into seating for the Museum theater, and we will make the remainder available for purchase to help fund the acquisition of the stained-glass.
The Executive Committee would like to thank all alumni for your support. As usual, a special HUGE thanks to my co-counsel, Jennifer, for her many unbelievable efforts. You may be interested to know that our combined legal efforts during the Doughboy litigation and the stained-glass litigation has resulted in more than $400,000 of in-kind legal fees. Trust me when I say that that chapter is now closed. Permanently.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Wentworth Military Academy Museum is now ……………… “All Present and Accounted For!”
Achieve the Honorable
Fellow alums and friends of The Wentworth Museum:
Our general contractor, Gonzo Lopez, has been a friend of mine for the last decade. He is honest, ethical, a man of many talents, and a true gentleman. When I asked Gonzo to leave his family and business in Phoenix to help us in Lexington, he didn’t hesitate. He knew I wouldn’t ask unless we really needed him. And he has done work that we would have paid much more for from others, with his trademark perfectionism and can-do positive attitude.
He has put in 12-16 hour days EVERY DAY since joining our cause. He returns to Phoenix on Sunday to spend a week with his family. He will come back to Lexington and work for others until Labor Day (while we replenish our coffers and prepare for homecoming). Assuming we are in the position I expect we will be in by Labor Day, we will be back to work to finish out our final remaining tasks for the final five weeks before we head into Homecoming.
If you have seen and appreciated his work make sure and let him know when you see him, not only for him, but so that his family understands how much his work means to our brotherhood.
Ladies and Gentlemen…. this is your chance … put your name (or up to 5 donors’ names) on a plaque under your company’s guidon at the Museum. We are in need of the following:
They are $400 each. Please let me know if you have an interest so we can get them ordered. Ready, set, GO!!
Thank you, John Francis, for the 3 boxes of carefully packed trophies and other items! They arrived safe and sound, and they are exquisite. The pictured trophies are for the:
- 1930- Missouri State Matches for the Junior Collegiate Rifle Team & is inscribed, “Wentworth Military Academy 1930.” We are honored to have these treasures in your museum.
- 1921- University of Missouri scholastic team trophy
- 1918- Half-Mile Relay trophy
- 1927- Kemper Relays trophy
- WMA saber
Everything you see in this picture (except the floor and ceiling) is new. The paint is new, the doorway was not there before us, the hallway is new, and the buildout is new.
So why was all this necessary? The Hall of Honor is an event space. Event spaces need bathrooms. But still, we want to be able to close off the Hall of Honor from the Museum for rentals. This hallway leads from the Hall of Honor to the Museum, but there will be a door at the end of the hallway, which will be locked when the Museum is closed but the Hall of Honor is hosting an event. Just through this doorway will be two ADA compliant bathrooms (one on the left (brand new) and one on the right (existing bathroom reconfigured to be ADA compliant). So that people walking past the bathrooms don’t get hit by swinging doors, hefty sliding doors will be installed for the bathrooms. Just past the bathroom on the left will be a coat closet for Hall of Honor banquets.
If you were to turn left into the coat closet, on the other side of the wall just in front of you is the theater room we are building out; on the other side of that, the cadet room.
Thank you Catie Ebert (chair of our building committee) and everyone else (including our donors) who are making things possible to Secure Our Future.
Volunteers continue to make strides in getting our history sorted, categorized, filed and displayed for all of our viewing pleasure. We continue to receive supplies on an ongoing basis. Not everyone is able to make it in person to help, but there is the option to join the 1880 Sustaining Members Society or support us through the purchase of supplies.