P.O. Box 197 * Augusta, Kentucky 41002
April 19, 2005
Henrys give a sneak peek at Augusta labor of love: Clooney museum
By WENDY MITCHELL Staff Writer, The Ledger Independent, Maysville, KY
Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:27 PM EDT
AUGUSTA -- Is there any better way to pay tribute to your mentor than to turn their former home into a museum?
Heather French Henry and her family have made it their goal for 2005 to have the Rosemary Clooney House Museum in Augusta open to the public.
With their preschool-age daughters Harper Renee' and Taylor Augusta mingling through the sea of legs belonging to members of the media Tuesday, former Kentucky Lt. Gov. Stephen Henry and his wife Miss America 2000 Heather Renee Henry led the group on a tour of the big yellow Federal style house on Riverside Drive.
The house the late Rosemary Clooney called home for more than 20 years has remained empty since her death in 2002.
Contractors politely stepped aside from their work to allow photographers and videographers access to a view of the work in progress.
"We had to do a lot with the original foundation to get it leveled up. There was rot, flood damage to the foundation from 1997 and insect damage that had to be dealt with," said Steve Henry. "One fireplace collapsed the day after we bought the house."
The restoration of the house is a labor of love dedicated to the work and memory of the singer, dancer and actress whom Heather Henry feels was a major part of guiding her into the lifestyle of a public figure.
"If she were here, I think Rosemary would be looking at all of this and laughing at me," said Henry, "She would also be flattered at all the attention."
In the room the Henrys plan to turn into the "White Christmas Room" visitors could see posters, photographs and costumes from the movie.
"This is the actual military uniform worn by Bing Crosby in the scene at the end of the movie," said Heather Henry.
"We are also looking for any other artifacts people may have that relate to Rosemary's movies and her life in Augusta," said Steve Henry, "We have Bob Hope's tuxedo, from "Here Come The Girls" at our fingertips."
Heather Henry unfurled a large antique poster with familiar images but written in Spanish.
"Rosemary's work was popular throughout the world. This is an original poster from Argentina for White Christmas,' " she said.
Near one of the costumes worn by actress Mary Wick in the movie, a stunning red dress, trimmed in white, caught the attention of the visitors.
"It's a replica my mother (Diane French) made of Rosemary's dress from "White Christmas" for me to wear for a holiday performance last year," said Henry. "The movie studio thought they had the original and were going to let us have it. At the last minute they discovered they couldn't find it. It may have been revamped and used for a different movie. It was common to do that with costumes. We had a very short time to research the style and get it put together."
"It was quite a challenge for us, especially to get the (faux) fur right," said Diane French.
Memorabilia that will not be on display until the museum is open to the public includes Clooney bedroom furnishings, right down to the pillows and bedspread, said Steve Henry.
"We have saved everything we could and the family has given us many irreplaceable items," said Steve Henry, "All they asked is that we never sell them."
The area that had once been part of Clooney downstairs bathroom, off the kitchen, is being restored to the previous open floor plan adjoining the kitchen. It will house memorabilia from Clooney's nephew, actor George Clooney, her brother Nick Clooney, and Heather's reign as Miss America in an antique penny candy case donated by sister-in-law Nina Clooney, said Heather Henry.
"I used to buy candy from her store at that candy case," said Henry.
The Henrys are crossing their fingers that the project will be very near completion, including Clooney's favorite color red carpet for a June 4 sneak preview and completed for the September grand opening.
"We have nothing but praise for our contractor, Chris Hughes. He gets things done almost before I can get them onto the list," said Heather Henry.
As reporters were leaving, Steve Henry gave a shout.
"We're insured," he called out with a twinge of relief.
One more hurdle crossed in a project that the Henrys say they hope will help Augusta continue to grow as an attractive place for tourists and history buffs.
The Henrys stressed that the Rosemary Clooney House Museum is a nonprofit foundation that is accepting monetary donations and donations of memorabilia. For information call 614-325-0879 or on-line at TRCH@rosemaryclooney.com.
Contact Wendy Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 606-564-9091, ext. 370.