|Info – Vision & Motivation|
Molesworth Montana Institute (MMI) was conceived as a not-for-profit Montana corporation that proposed to:
- Preserve Ostheimers’ Old Lodge and at least the 8 acre fenced “compound” which contains 3 homes, a machine shed, and a skeet range – all apparently the Romer Family Commission designed by Thomas C. Molesworth and built between 1935 & 1939.
- Re-purchase some of the Molesworth originals believed to be missing.
- Replace the original style drapes, bedspreads, and Zia / Acoma pots, and lampshades that have broken or worn out.
- Enlist three summer interns to research into T.C. Molesworth’s style, suppliers, and associates and compile a master list and site mapping of all of Molesworth’s “jobs” from 1930 to 1970.
- Further the passive solar energy features that were originally incorporated into this Old Lodge, perhaps influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, and other alternative energy potentially usable here.
- Place “conservation easements” into the remaining 152 ranch acres to forever prevent uncontrolled building development even if remaining acreage must later be sold.
- Encourage neighboring ranches to place similar conservation easements on adjoining acreages.
- Perfect natural methods of weed control here so noxious weeds can be controlled without use of herbicides, and publicize these methods so others use them.
- Endow the 8 acre fenced compound so that it can be maintained and opened for visitors, at first only by appointment with a docent present.
- Continue the raising of wild turkeys as grasshopper control on the ranch, and for release into the old growth cedar forest during winter months, which has been successful over the past 20 years.
To this end, Polly and I have “matched” Terry and Sandy Winchells’ offers for the original Molesworth furnishings, twice, and now have offered to buy back the entire ranch from the Family Trust to which we gave the ranch back in 1974 – because the ranch Trustees and some of the Trust beneficiaries do not presently support our effort to preserve the Molesworth commissioned furnishings intact, even though it may be the last one in Montana.
Part of the problem is Terry Winchells’ offer of cash, twice, for some of the Molesworth originals, for more than we paid for the entire ranch in 1974. Part of it is a disagreement within our family over whether the Molesworth originals can and should be preserved here, and whether we are up to the stewardship required in doing this. Part of it is that the Trust has been successful in protecting the ranch and the Molesworth furnishings, even from a direct attack by IRS in 1988 (I eventually caught two IRS agents forging our signatures and was able to help get one convicted – see United States of America vs. Joni Rio, CR-91-30-M-CCL, a case of record in which Rio was convicted in US District Court, Missoula, Montana), and from two other assaults, leaving the ranch Trustees in flinch mode.
Because we can afford to donate the furnishings, but cannot afford to donate the Old Lodge, or the rest of the 8 acre compound, or the entire ranch, I set up the MMI websites to attract one or more major benefactors who appreciate Cowboys and Indians High Style and might also appreciate tax write-offs for their contribution. I hope to find one other family who has yet to find their summer home or retreat in clean and tranquil Montana and loves Molesworth’s style and furnishings, and the beauty of our wide open spaces, as much as we have.
We have a Certificate of Incorporation about to be re-worked by Missoula attorneys Helena Maclay and Richard Baskett, preparatory to filing with Montana’s Sec. of State, and then with IRS for 501(c)3 approvals. That’s why the MMI website is a .org instead of a .com or .net.
(Back in 1971, while living in PA and DE, I set up Delaware Bay Marine Sciences Institute with a somewhat similar method and it was approved by IRS in less than 4 weeks! It became part of the Marine Sciences Consortium which included Penn State, Millersville, West Chester, Trenton State, U. of W. Virginia, and 4 other colleges.)
The website will be critical in that it will either attract a major benefactor within two or three years, or it won’t, and then eventually some alternative backup plan will evolve. If a major benefactor does appear, my suggestion will be to re-work the website again into a full e-commerce site with a paid pro webmaster (I’ve done it myself so far on less than 200 bucks with a neighbor donating his time and helps), and linking to more Molesworthy websites on some mutually beneficial business basis (like MolesworthToo, KabinFever, Lester Santos, Jerry England, etc.).
My goal is to have all this in place by the end of 2002, with a Board of Advisors consisting of experts in Thomas C. Molesworth’s styles, artisans, and suppliers, and with all major decisions being made by a Board of Trustees.
I would serve as interim caretaker and occasional docent until relieved, and then retire for the 4th time, perhaps down to the double log cabin known as the Allard Homestead, which is still part of the original ranch, then work on preserving that.
Classes of membership will be set by the first Trustees, but meanwhile I’m proposing that all members of the Romer, Molesworth, Grosscurth, Rung, Moss, and Ostheimer families be eligible for Founder or Charter memberships, at zero annual cost.
Where Polly & I grew up in Pennsylvania (Whitford, Chester County, PA) the whole of Chester Valley had only 35 families. Everyone knew everyone else. There was no pollution, and it was dark at night. My cousin Billy McIlvaine was a dairy farmer, got hurt in 1949, eventually sold his milking string, and then sold a 460 acre pasture he no longer needed. 928 new homes were built on that! Right away the township needed a new elementary school; an average 2-1/2 kids per new home had exploded the grade school student population. Up went the taxes to pay for school bonds, interest, busses, 30 new teachers! Then Harvey Young sold his dairy! Our parents bought it and hired a herdsman-milker, to avoid another housing subdivision and another round of tax hikes. Then Ralph Milliron quit, auctioned his cows, and put his farm (next to Polly’s folks) up for sale. Her folks and mine formed Whitford Land and Improvement Company and sold subscriptions to buy the Milliron, then the Galbreath, then the Smith farms. But rising costs and taxes submerged the First Whitford L & I Co., and the Second W. L. & I. Co. The stress caused my Dad to abandon my mother, leave home, and run away to greener pastures and a younger woman. It brought Polly’s Dad down with an aortal aneurysm at 64. The only open space left there now is Polly’s family farm (presently up for sale because of the death taxes on it after her mother recently died), and the Whitford Golf Course and Country Club, formed from parts of those other farms rather than have them sold to subdivision developers.
We left there because the population in Chester Valley reached 7,700 folks by 1970, drug use had come to school, head-on crashes with fatalities were happening weekly, the big debate was over buying 3 new or 4 new Township Constable cop cars, and a 9′ diameter sewer main was being buried across both our family farms, too far away to hook to, but we were still being billed $11.00 per front foot. I see this same trend in Missoula and Ravalli Counties, and it has started on the Rez. And PA farmers get an average 46″ rainfall so no need to irrigate there! No water fights or pressures! Crops and grass easily grow, and there are fewer weeds.
It takes a Bill Gates or a Ted Turner type to gently work with some neighbors, generously buy out others if & when they gotta sell, and stay on top in a conserving way so the love of money types don’t get entrenched and start the taxes skyrocketing. Maybe its already too late. Maybe there’s no way to stop it completely. Maybe Mission Valley will look like a northern Las Vegas someday. But not if I can do anything about it! Wouldn’t it be great if this website helped attract to MMI just one good person with plenty of money?