Richmond event offers rare glimpse at wartime child development center

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All photos from fundraiser courtesy of Lisa Foote.

By Kathy Chouteau

A “Maritime Tea” fundraiser hosted by the Rosie the Riveter Trust last Saturday afternoon at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park’s historic Maritime Child Development Center treated supporters to a rare glimpse of an exhibit there and the chance to meet some of its occupants during its wartime heyday.

An intimate group of approximately 35 people attended the fundraiser at the center, located at 1014 Florida St. in Richmond, which opened in 1943 and cared for the children of workers at the nearby Kaiser shipyards. On hand at the fundraiser were Marian Wynn, a Rosie ambassador at the park; Ruth Hoffman, a teacher at the center during WWII; and O’Neil Dillon—who, along with his brother Eugene, attended the center from 1943 to 1945—according to Lisa Foote, public relations and marketing manager for Rosie the Riveter Trust.

Although the center isn’t open on a regular basis nowadays, it’s accessible on rare occasion during special events, and is set up like a wartime-era preschool classroom, per Foote. Original period toys, paintings created by the center’s children, photos and the like are part of the current exhibition.

These days, aside from the National Park Service’s small exhibit, the center’s building also plays home to the Rosie the Riveter Trust office and the Richmond Charter Prep preschool and elementary school.

According to Foote, the Saturday afternoon event was held outside the center and included tea, pastries and cookies for the guests, who were also granted access to the center’s exhibit.

“This was the trust’s first in-person event for 2021, and provided an opportunity for attendees to view the exhibit curated by Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, and to hear about its significance from Kathryn Daskal, supervisory park ranger,” said Foote.

Rosie the Riveter Trust is the nonprofit partner of Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. For more info about the organization, or its future events, click here.