ELKINS - Davis & Elkins College will host “Imperial Woman Celebrating Pearl S. Buck” with events for all ages throughout the day Saturday, July 8 at historic Graceland Inn and other locations on campus. The program includes informational sessions, activities for children and a formal dinner followed by a living history performance by storyteller and actress Karen Vuranch.
An author and humanitarian, Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was born in 1892 in Hillsboro, W.Va., and spent 40 years of her life in China where her parents were Presbyterian missionaries. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Good Earth” and the Nobel Prize in literature for her epic portrayal of Chinese peasant life and for the biographies of her parents. Buck also was a longtime advocate of cross-cultural understanding and racial harmony as a means of achieving world peace.
“We hope everyone will come and enjoy a day dedicated to Pearl S. Buck. Her work and impact on the world continues to be an important part of literature and a reflection of not only the times she wrote about, but a better understanding of the world we live in today,” said Melanie Campbell, executive chef at Graceland Inn and coordinator of the hospitality management program at D&E, who organized the celebration. “She was a West Virginian and a role model for young women everywhere – especially this West Virginian.”
Activities begin at 11 a.m. with tours of Graceland Inn. A soup and sandwich buffet luncheon on the veranda will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and tickets may be purchased at the door.
From 2-3 p.m., free tours will be given in the Pearl S. Buck Room in Liberal Arts Hall and the special collections in Booth Library. Part of the Special Collections and Archives of Davis & Elkins College, the Pearl S. Buck Collection includes original manuscripts and a complete anthology of Buck’s titles in more than 35 languages. Among the most extraordinary pieces is the Sydenstricker Bible which belonged to Buck’s father, Absalom Sydenstricker, who is believed to be the first person to translate the New Testament into Chinese.
Children’s activities, including kite making, readings and more, will take place from 2-3:30 p.m. on the front lawn at Graceland. The free events will be led by Coalton Elementary School teachers Amanda Mininger and Kelly Judy.
At 3 p.m., a free ice cream social will take place on the Booth Library bridge.
A presentation titled “My Mother’s House in Hillsboro, W.Va.” by Phyllis Lubin-Tyler, a representative of the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Museum, begins at 4 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center, conference room B. The event is free to those attending the dinner and anyone wishing to make a donation to the Birthplace Fund.
The dinner social begins at 5:15 p.m. with beverages and hors d’oeuvres, followed by the dinner at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person. To make reservations, call 304-637-1600 or visit www.gracelandinn.com.
Campbell created the menu from selections in “Pearl S. Buck’s Oriental Cookbook,” a collection of recipes from all of the countries in the Orient. The four-course meal features hot and sour soup (China), Gado-Goda salad (Indonesia), Shrimp Curry (Burma), Chicken Vindaloo (India-Pakistan), fresh mint chutney (India-Pakistan), Dum Aloo (pararo curry from wedding recipes), rice and peas (India-Pakistan), mango lasse (India), Kerar Pishka Kulfi (ice cream dessert), and strong coffee and tea.
Those attending the dinner will be treated to “A Visit with Pearl S. Buck with Karen Vuranch” at 7:30 p.m. Vuranch brings history to life through her unique performance, which combines storytelling and drama. As Pearl S. Buck, she relates the Asian culture through the eyes of an American woman living in China.
A 10 percent lodging discount is available to Graceland Inn guests planning to spend the weekend and attend the “Imperial Woman Celebrating Pearl S. Buck” events. For additional information, call 304-637-1600.
Graceland is the former summer home of U.S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis and is named after his youngest daughter, Grace. Original construction began in 1891. Designed by the famed Baltimore firm of Baldwin & Pennington, the home includes massive towers and bays, large gables, wide porches and wooden-shingled upper stories. Refinements include lavish use of fine hardwood paneling, beams and hand-carved columns, red slate roofing tiles from Vermont, self-storing interior shutters, large stained glass windows, and imported Delft tiles that surround the library fireplace.
The West Virginia Presbyterian Education Fund acquired Graceland in 1941 and later presented it to Davis & Elkins College.
The historic structure houses an inn and restaurant, and is a popular venue for wedding receptions, reunions and other events. For additional information, visit www.gracelandinn.com.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.