By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — The Girl Scout Little House in Mt. Vernon not only provides needed space for local scouting activities, but is a significant part of this area's history, said Girl Scout leader Rebeccah McConnaughay.
Mt. Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley visited the Little House when she was a Girl Scout, McConnaughay said.
Also, American ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick may have participated in activities there when she was a scout in Mt. Vernon, McConnaughay said.
“These old buildings aren't just standing there. They serve a purpose and they're part of history,” McConnaughay said. “It's a (source of) pride for Girl Scouts.”
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Little House, a special open house will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Nov. 17 at the site, located at 100 N. 20th St.
Organizers hope the event serves as a reminder to the public of how vital the Little House has been for area Girl Scouts.
And since the facility is dependent on donations to keep operating, organizers also want to encourage more local support. The open house is free, but donations will be accepted.
In addition, the open house will be a chance for former Girl Scouts to come back to the house and reminisce, said Ruthie Alexander, one of the Little House's founding directors.
“They're going to have old scrapbooks, old pictures, things like that,” Alexander said. “They will be fun to look at.”
The Little House is mostly used by local Girl Scout troops, but some troops from outside the area also utilize the site for overnight stays, Alexander said.
Jefferson County currently has about 12 Girl Scout troops and roughly 200 to 300 individual scouts, Alexander said.
Scouts and their troop leaders use the Little House for a wide variety of purposes, including troop meetings, special events, award ceremonies, overnight stays, campfire cooking and much more.
Many troop leaders are unable to have scout meetings in their homes due to lack of space, Alexander said. This makes the Little House all the more important, she said.
“It has all these functional uses and it's something special for the girls,” Alexander said. “They need access to a space that's functional.”
About 15 years ago, this region's Girl Scout Council decided to no longer provide financial support to Little House.
In the wake of this decision, the Girl Scout Little House Foundation was formed to keep the house open and available to local scouts at no cost.
Since that time, many improvements have been made to the building, such as new windows, lights, siding, landscaping, a handicapped accessible bathroom and more.
“It's in much better shape than it has been,” Alexander said. “It's used more days than not every week, year-round. They just have to reserve it at no charge.”
The Nov. 17 celebration will be a traditional open house with tours, refreshments and snacks. It is open to everyone.