Earl Woollen, a Clinton native who died on Sept. 12, deserves to be recognized for his incredible career achievements. If there were Everyday Hero awards for employees with outstanding job performances, Earl would have easily earned that honor.
His work as site technician (1986-1999) at the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site made enormous contributions to its award-winning restoration. One of his notable accomplishments was the help he gave architects, contractors and skilled tradespeople during the extensive “facelift” of the mansion and outbuildings between 1986 and 1993.
Earl was a mechanical genius who understood both the vintage and modern technologies in these 1870s structures. Electricians, plumbers, and HVAC techs relied on his knowledge and skills to save time on the job and safeguard the buildings’ valuable artifacts. He was a skilled carpenter, too, who built everything from a replica of the original garden gate to the wooden crates that protected the home’s rare gaseliers during shipment to conservators in St. Louis. Thousands of decisions had to be made to ensure the highest restoration standards were met; Earl played a vital role at every stage of the process.
Most importantly, Earl was a lovely person whose kindness made the mansion a wonderful place to work and volunteer. Nowhere was this more visible than during the restoration of the historic garden, an outdoor classroom for tourists and school children. Utilizing the research provided by a landscape historian, Earl led a volunteer group that removed modern plants from the garden, so that vintage flowers might reappear.
Earl’s legacy is an example of the vital role that dedicated employees perform daily in public museums, such as the David Davis Mansion. He was one of the best.
David Davis Mansion, Site Manager, 1990-2014; volunteer, 1984-1989