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September 2014


Help bring local history to life, be a docent at Ten Chimneys

Genesee Depot - The growing docent corps at Ten Chimneys is solidifying that the organization’s tag line, “More than a Great Museum,” rings true. It is a beautiful National Historic Landmark museum. But, the experience is also largely focused on the “art of living” and finding personal inspiration from the Lunts and their lives. This fact has resonated with guests and is why Ten Chimneys’ docent corps continues to expand and includes volunteers from many diverse backgrounds. The 2012 class of docents included among many others, an FBI employee, a City Planner, a Radio Show Hostess, a Radiologic Technician and a Spanish Teacher - proof that Ten Chimneys is not for theatre aficionados alone.

Docents at Ten Chimneys lead two-hour tours of the National Historic Landmark home of Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, located in Genesee Depot. All docents complete an in-depth, 14-week training course to introduce guests to Ten Chimneys during the May through November tour season.

“As a History Major currently at UW-Waukesha, I saw becoming a docent as the first steps toward the rest of my career in Public History,” said Chloe Rettinger, who became a docent in 2012. “Being a part of the Ten Chimneys Foundation Volunteer Corps has changed my life and opened doors to opportunities that I never would have imagined.”

The course includes a historical study of the Lunts and their era, an in-depth exploration of the decorative arts found at Ten Chimneys, and a focus on the core values for which the Lunts were best remembered.

Prospective docents choose one of the following sessions:

Session 1: 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Feb 5 - April 9
Session 2: 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Feb 6 - April 10
Session 3: 1 to 3 p.m. Thursdays, Feb 7 - April 11
Session 4: 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays, Feb 9 - April 13

Each classroom session is followed by four weeks of additional, hands-on training. Classes are held at the Lunt-Fontanne Program Center at Ten Chimneys and are led by Ten Chimneys Volunteer Manager, Alyssa Tsagong.
Docents of Ten Chimneys are invited to attend Volunteer Meetings held four times a year, participate in continuing education sessions, and gather for a much-anticipated Volunteer Picnic held on the estate grounds at the peak of summer.
In addition, Ten Chimneys’ partnership with University of Wisconsin-Waukesha allows participants the option of earning 2.8 Continuing Education Units for completing the course, for a $25 fee.

Shirley Decker said this of her 2012 docent training experience, “The training was always interesting, fun and really prepared me to be a docent. I loved learning about the Lunts, their careers and their creation of Ten Chimneys. I live an hour from Ten Chimneys and I would drive even further to be a part of this wonderful experience.”

Prospective docents should contact Volunteer Manager Alyssa Tsagong at (262) 968-4161 ext. 212 to learn more or to register for training.

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