Determined to share his love of books, his artwork and his belief in the power of creativity, Katherine started the foundation in 2007. This included cataloging, displaying and preserving the thousands of books and art pieces in the collection—an effort she was busily pursuing on July 10, 2019.
Katherine drove into town that morning to go to the post office, leaving two landscapers at her home to finish yardwork. One of them made the baffling decision to remove weeds growing beside the house with a blowtorch.
When Katherine pulled back into her driveway 20 minutes later, the house was already filling with smoke. She called 911 and within minutes firefighters were pulling the most valuable pieces off the walls, covering the rest with blue tarps and spraying everything with sea water pumped in from the nearby bay—there are no hydrants in the neighborhood.
Arriving only minutes after the firefighters was Katherine’s insurance broker, Paul Burke, of Hadley Insurance Group, who stood by her to provide support until her family arrived. Katherine sat on the grass in the front yard in a daze, thinking of the books, the irreplaceable prints. Then the flames burst through the roof.
"Three hours later, firefighters were still punching holes in the roof and water was dripping from every pore of the house,” she says, but the fire was out and the structure still stood. The dining room, kitchen, bedroom and library bore the brunt of the fire. Miraculously, most of the books, the art and the antiques survived but both collections suffered severe smoke and water damage.
Gracious neighbors offered to let Katherine stay in their guesthouse while she began the long journey of recovery. PURE claims adjuster Joe Juliano and PURE Member Advocate® Joan Smith stepped up to help, coordinating the necessary structural, electrical and cosmetic repairs and looking after Katherine’s immediate well-being.
“I can’t tell you how shocked I was at how pleasant everybody was,” says Katherine, “how accommodating, friendly and open they were.”
Hildi Greenberg, of PURE Art Services by Haven, led the art, furniture and rare book restoration and Katherine credits her quick work with saving the collection. “It was July and it was very hot. Everyone told me that the artwork would be ruined and that mold would have started forming on the books. But it was all able to be restored because the response was so quick.”