2013-07-04 / Entertainment

Pearl S. Buck House Completes $2.6 Million Rehab

By Theresa Hegel

THE INTELLIGENCER

PERKASIE, Pa. (AP) – When Janet Mintzer became president of Pearl S. Buck International 12 years ago, Buck’s historic home was in poor shape.

The list of problems – water damage, rotting wood, code violations – was so long that the board of directors at the time seriously considered ridding itself of the old stone farmhouse on the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizewinning author’s estate in Hilltown, Mintzer said.

Instead, the nonprofit committed to a years-long, $2.66 million renovation project, securing the National Historical Landmark.

During the past eight years, volunteers leading groups through the home had to be adaptable, tailoring their tours to the parts of the home that weren’t being worked on, Mintzer said.

Now, however, the renovation is finally finished, and the whole house is open to the public.

“It has been an incredible journey,’’ Mintzer said Wednesday night at a grand reopening ceremony.

The event drew several hundred people, some of whom came from as far as China. Author of “The Good Earth’’ and more than 100 other books, Buck lived in China for many years before moving to Hilltown. She was an advocate for cross-cultural understanding and humanitarian efforts. She started an international adoption agency in 1949 to help biracial children, who were considered by many at the time to be unadoptable. PSBI still operates the agency today, in addition to running a separate program to provide health and educational opportunities to children and family in need.

“We’re changing lives and making a difference here and around the globe,’’ said Pam Carroll, marketing director at PSBI. “When children are matched with loving families, great things happen.’’

Though Buck died in 1973, she’s still inspiring people today. Like Karen Moyer, named woman of the year in 2011 by PSBI. Moyer, wife of Major League Baseball and former Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer, runs a foundation that has raised more than $20 million to help children in distress.

A photo of Buck is a permanent fixture in her office.

“I’m inspired by her every day,’’ Moyer said at Wednesday’s event. “This is a place that can inspire others.’’

Speaking through an interpreter, Chinese official Xu Ping said his country reveres Buck and that the organization he runs holds many events to celebrate her legacy.

“The people of Zhenjiang are very proud of her,’’ he said. Buck married her first husband in Zhenjiang in 1917.

He noted that she worked to bring friendship and cross-cultural understanding to the two nations throughout her life.

Though many people remember Buck for her prolific pen, Carroll said the author’s true legacy was her voice – the way she spoke out and worked to correct

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