Juanita and Wally Nelson held a life-tenancy granted by the Board in the 1970s; since Juanita’s death, the property has now fully reverted to Woolman Hill. The Woolman Hill Board remains aware of the unique place of the Nelsons in Woolman Hill’s history and the wider community’s deep emotional and spiritual connections to the Nelsons.
Although not Quakers, Wally and Juanita were living examples of Quaker principles and of how to embody as a daily witness the values of non-violence, simplicity, integrity and equality. When Juanita was approached during her later years about the possibility of establishing a museum or archive in the Nelson home after she was gone, she expressed horror at the idea of creating a shrine. The Board is therefore conscious of wanting to honor the Nelson legacy with a living memorial, rather than having the sole focus be the physical building from which the Nelsons’ witness had its expression.
At recent meetings in January and March, the Board approved a proposal for volunteers to refurbish the front and back rooms of the Nelson home (and remove the connecting hallway), to use for day-time, individual or small group meditation, prayer, meetings and similar uses.
The Board will continue to consider how best to honor the relationship with the community of those whose lives have been touched by the Nelsons, as well as to honor the profound witness the Nelsons exemplified in their day-to-day lives on the hill. Throughout this process the Board will also continue to weigh the mission and organizational purpose of Woolman Hill, relevant zoning and building codes, and the values of sustainability and accessibility.
Renovations are now underway at the Nelson homestead, with the hope that they will be completed by fall 2018. We look forward to sharing the space once it is ready for visitors!