Over the course of the last year, the National Trust has ensured the long-term sustainability of the Haas Lilienthal House through targeted assistance to House owner, San Francisco Architectural Heritage. Increased visibility to the local community was a key first step. In addition to it being compared to Betty White, and pitting its history up against Downton Abbey, we made a House visit a key part of any itinerary to San Francisco in a National Trust travel blog. Last fall’s Community Free Day was a tremendous success with legendary San Francisco reporter Carl Nolte urging on the community to re-discover the Site.
But most of the Trust’s work was behind the scenes. We convened experts on heritage tourism, real property law, historic sites, and financial planning, and provided the framework for a five-year business plan that will make the House a strong net revenue generator for the organization within five years.
Specific tasks National Trust staff were responsible for included:
- Providing Heritage with data and information about the operation of other house museums across the country, including business plan templates, to inform their planning process;
- Funding and participating in a “visioning” process for the House, in which NTHP staff presented data comparing the operations at Haas-Lilienthal with the Trust’s historic sites, as well as house museums overall; and,
- Creating a visitor survey and providing an analysis of survey results to shape a vision for House operations.
The vision for the future of the Haas-Lilienthal House synthesizes a wide variety of information from professional studies and reports, as well as a collaborate visioning process held last fall with key House stakeholders. The outcome will assist Heritage in its upcoming capital campaign to raise money for several much-needed upgrades. Further, this process will serve as an important model for other house museums throughout the country seeking creative ways to attract new visitors and make historic sites financially sustainable.