Beginning in 1934 when the City of Austin accepted the responsibility for the relocation and restoration of the O. Henry House at 409 E. Fifth Street, the museum has always been supported by dedicated volunteers or “friends” who contributed Porter and Roach family furnishings, letters, books, photographs, and memorabilia as well as personal time as museum docents.
In 1988, volunteers organized into Friends of the O. Henry Museum and were approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. In October 2000, the Friends filed new Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation (TIN 43-1988102) with the Texas Secretary of State.
In 2003, the 1869 home of Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig was saved, relocated to Brush Square, and deeded to the City of Austin. A grand dedication of the fully restored house was held on March 2, 2010.
In August 2005, the Friends of the O. Henry Museum name was officially amended to Friends of the O. Henry and Dickinson Museums, Inc. And, again in 2015, the organization officially updated its name to Brush Square Museums Foundation to align itself with the City’s re-branding the park as Brush Square Museums to include the O. Henry Museum, the Susanna Dickinson Museum, and the Austin Fire Museum.
We are the primary citizen group advocating for the restoration and continuing preservation of both the O. Henry Museum and Susanna Dickinson Museum. We make grants for restoration repairs and to purchase needed items recommended by the Senior Curator. During the restoration of the Susanna Dickinson-Hannig House, we served as fiscal agent and construction liaison with the City of Austin. As partners with the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, Foundation board members are dedicated to fundraising for both museums.
The Annual O. Henry PUN-OFF World Championships has been held every May since 1977. The Pun-Off is Austin's best free entertainment helping to “Keep Austin Weird.” Every year for more than 43 years, the Pun-Off has attracted several thousand pun-loving people and press attention from the Washington Post and CBS Sunday Morning on TV, among others.
The Foundation regularly sponsors programs highlighting O. Henry and Susanna Dickinson's legacies in literature and Texas history. We often host receptions for new museum exhibits in addition to an annual program meeting in February with guest speaker. For several years we have celebrated O. Henry's September 11 birthday with cake and reception. Our members also volunteered time to develop lesson plans for teachers and student activities. (see here.)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Read their biographies here.