AHF President Cynthia Kelly attended the Oppenheimer House Planning Symposium from September 23-24 in Los Alamos, New Mexico to share strategies for acquiring funds to preserve and interpret the former house of J.R. Oppeinheimer, the Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project.
In addition to sharing fundraising strategies, the symposium gave attendees a brief history of the Oppenheimer House, offered a complimentary private tour of the Bradbury Science Museum, and challenged scholars and the public to share their ideas on the best methods to preserve and interpret the property. Most of the program’s events were held in the Pajarito Room of Fuller Lodge, a historic social gathering space for Manhattan Project employees. The program also featured notable experts on the Manhattan Project, including Professor Jon Hunner (author of J. Robert Oppenheimer: The Cold War & The Atomic West), Professor James Hopkins (Professor at Southern Methodist University), Barbara Judy (Chief of Resources at the Bandelier National Monument), and Rod Torrez (Chief of Interpretation at the Bandelier National Monument). Many other Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS) and Los Alamos Historical Museum (LAHM) representatives also participated in the symposium, as well as distinguished members of the Los Alamos community.
The symposium was hosted by the Los Alamos Historical Society, whose mission is to “encourage in every way possible an appreciation of the history and heritage of Los Alamos and its surrounding area.” Among its many projects, the organization has stepped up efforts to preserve the Oppenheimer House after its current occupants, Helene and Bergen Suydam, signed a living trust agreement with the LAHS in 2003. So far, LAHS secured $50,000 from the Save America’s Treasures grant which allowed it to stabilize the old home’s foundation and complete other necessary repairs. However, LAHS is looking forward to the future National Historical Park and is in the process of acquiring more funds to restore and preserve the house for posterity.
For more information about the Oppenheimer House preservation efforts, please refer to the Los Alamos Historical Society website or read a brief bio in the Atomic Heritage Foundation’s A Guide to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico.