The Oliver Hardy Museum needs some work before its grand opening: $10,000 should go a long way in getting that work done.
At the Harlem city council meeting Dec. 10, Betty Sargent presented the check on behalf of her great-cousin, Eugene Cary.
Though the museum was open during the Oliver Hardy Festival, it needs items including handicap accessible bathrooms, electrical work, and fire extinguishers before the official opening in July.
Oliver Hardy Festival chairwoman and Harlem Mayor Pro Tem Robin Root said the $10,000 donation - added to the $7,000 raised at the festival - will help supply those needs and might allow for a few extras.
"We might be able to work on getting the security system now," Root said. "This is a great big help and a great morale booster."
Sargent, a lifelong Harlem resident, said Clary sent her the money after she told him of the museum's needs.
"Several days later, I get a card and this nice check," Betty said.
That wasn't the first check Clary has sent. A couple years ago, when Harlem needed help raising money for the library, Clary - a Harlem native - sent a check for $23,000. In the early 1970s, Clary and his two brothers donated the 50 acres where Harlem High School now sits.
This most recent donation was something he said he wanted to do to.
"I did it because Harlem has done a good job of getting tourists in there, and I just wanted to help them out," Clary said from his Marietta, Ga., office. "Just doing what I can."
Along with putting Clary's money to use in getting the museum in ship shape condition, Root said a temporary board of residents has been set up to oversee the business of setting museum bylaws and reporting to city council.
The board consists of Root, City Clerk Jean Dove, Sargent and her daughter Laurie, Linda Caldwell, Josephine Dees and Mary Jean Newell.
"We have started to look for a curator," Root said. "I would love to be in the position that we are not worrying about next year."
The main concern for Root and the board members is the grand opening. Hundreds of members from the Sons of the Desert - a worldwide Laurel and Hardy fan club - are expected to be bused in from Nashville Tenn.
"Right now our goal is to get opened up by July," Root said.
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