Presidential library foundation preparing for fundraising campaign

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Library at Dickinson State University

In the early stages of fundraising, The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation has collected $2 million in private donations to date, with expectations that the campaign will ramp up in the coming year.

“We’ve been building our national board,” said foundation CEO Wally Goulet.

New board members come from states such as California and Colorado. As a result, the board is aiming to draw in more investors interested in the proposed presidential library complex in Dickinson, according to Goulet, adding that 75 to 80 percent of funds is expected to come from those living outside North Dakota when a national awareness campaign is launched.

“There are so many (Roosevelt) enthusiasts across the country,” Goulet said.

Final numbers haven’t been calculated, but foundation board chairman Bruce Pitts previously said the cost of the library center could reach $100 million by the time its design is set.

“It will obviously be phased, we don’t think in phase one we’re going to build a $100 million facility,” he said. “We think it’ll be two, three or four phases.”

Outside of private donations, Goulet said $10.5 million was made available by the state Legislature, plus an additional $750,000 for operations. The city of Dickinson has vowed to contribute $3 million.

The proposal is to build the complex on the Dickinson State University rodeo grounds, with buildings resembling buttes that would house the working library, exhibit spaces and an auditorium. A central great hall would be built of glass and there are plans for a reconstruction of Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch cabin.

The foundation recently has added three new members to its board of trustees, including the wife of direct descendant Theodore Roosevelt V.

“While I don’t speak for my family members, I can say that, as the mother of three of Theodore Roosevelt’s great-great-great-grandchildren, I am passionate about preserving the president’s wonderful legacy,” Serena Roosevelt said in an email. “Theodore Roosevelt was a model of leadership, citizenship and service, and my great hope is that his library will become a hub for the advancement of these American ideals. “

Roosevelt is a communications consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previously, she was the general manager of a startup journalism company, NationSwell.

Roosevelt is joined on the board by Eric Washburn, the proprietor of Windward Strategies LLC, and Cathilea Robinett, president of e.Republic, a national media company that focuses on government and education.

Another of the library project’s proponents, DSU Theodore Roosevelt Humanities Scholar Clay Jenkinson, will be featured in a film about Roosevelt premiering Jan. 9 on PBS.

“Into the Amazon” retells Roosevelt’s 1914 journey with Brazilian explorer Candido Mariano Da Silva Rondon into the heart of the South American rainforest to chart an unexplored tributary of the Amazon River.

The board is aiming to begin construction in 2019, the 100-year anniversary of the former president’s death, Goulet said. The group will be working on developing a new timeline for the project in February.