Back to the Future: This Is Called Restoration

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 76, Spring 1998 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

In his evocative 4-page 1997 fundraising letter, Douglas Gresham claimed that Stanley Mattson’s C. S. Lewis Foundation had already completed 88% of the work needed to restore the Kilns to its original 1930s condition. (Not 87% or 89%, but exactly 88%.)

“Would you, therefore, consider making a gift in any amount to help the C. S. Lewis Foundation attain their goal of securing the remaining $64,466 [not $64,465 or $64,467] needed to complete this historical restoration initiative?”

Although Doug spoke of re-creating “the house of books held together by cobwebs,” there is no more effort to replace the books than the cobwebs. This “restoration” is extremely peculiar. Doug calls the kitchen a “scullery” while soliciting $700 for a freezer. He calls the east door, the one that everyone used constantly, the “Tradesmen’s Entrance.” He speaks of “designing and fabricating appropriate signage for the house.” He probably means “putting up some signs.”

Items Doug lists as “restoration” needs include 5 sofas at $900 each ($4,500 total), 3 computers, a computer printer, a freezer, 6 beds ($2,700 total), 14 chairs ($4,150 total), a $1,500 dining set, and a new $5,000 furnace. What these have to do with the Kilns in the 1930s he did not say.

Wash basins (with exposed plumbing pipes) have been installed in the bedrooms. Attractive but inauthentic dark wood paneling now covers some of the walls. The attached garage built by the Thirsks in the 1970s has not been removed; instead, it has been transformed into a “seminar room.”

What seminars? Led by whom?

If nothing else, the Kilns is being turned into a launching pad for some very ambitious grantsmanship. According to Mattson’s own mailings, he apparently intends to obtain and administer grants to subsidize future Kilns residents whom he will select and inspire.