About Our Organization
Fitzgerald in Saint Paul is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the life and literature of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the revered American author and cultural icon. The mission of Fitzgerald in Saint Paul is:
To promote the history and artistic work of F. Scott Fitzgerald;
To interpret Fitzgerald’s history in Saint Paul, Minnesota and surrounding areas;
To educate the public about F. Scott Fitzgerald and provide educational resources to foster understanding of his history and written works; and,
To ensure the continuing and enduring legacy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work for future generations.
F. Scott Fitzgerald found literary inspiration across the United States and Europe, from New Jersey to Paris to the Hollywood hills, but the Midwest remained Fitzgerald’s true home. Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Fitzgerald is one of the city’s most internationally famous citizens. Through programs, educational initiatives and outreach, Fitzgerald in Saint Paul works to advance F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legacy as an American author and a Saint Paul icon.
Our Organization’s History and Our Founder, Richard P. McDermott
Fitzgerald in Saint Paul was born out of the vision and passion of Richard P. McDermott who helped restore Fitzgerald’s birthplace at 481 Laurel Avenue, Saint Paul, and then lived in the apartment/condo for more than 35 years before passing away in 2012. Richard’s vision was to create an ongoing organization that would celebrate Fitzgerald’s writings and legacy through annual programs, events and educational activities, but also would build toward the creation of a site to promote and educate about Fitzgerald and his life in Saint Paul. Richard left a substantial legacy in his estate to create the Richard P. McDermott Fund at the Saint Paul Foundation to ensure that his vision would become reality. In addition, he asked good friends from the literary and library world to spearhead this effort, and Fitzgerald in Saint Paul was initiated in late 2012.
In the past year, Fitzgerald in Saint Paul has focused on setting the foundation for the organization, including incorporating as a nonprofit, organizing an initial steering committee and then Board of Directors, acquiring federal 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, creating a business plan, and conducting initial programs and events.
Richard P. McDermott
Richard P. McDermott was a revered professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota. In addition to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard had many passions, notably the Civil War, the Superior Hiking Trail and family history. He was a native of West Virginia and held a doctoral degree from the University of Iowa.
Richard was part of the small group of urban pioneers who rescued the two buildings where Fitzgerald was born and renovated the deteriorating buildings into condos. Through the luck of the draw, out of the 12 apartments in the two buildings, Richard ended up in the apartment where Fitzgerald was born. Following his retirement from the University of Minnesota, Richard became more and more of a passionate promoter of the author’s work and story. He participated in the local Fitzgerald Roundtable discussion group, avidly attended local Fitzgerald events and conferences, supported the Fitzgerald alcove at Central Library, and helped get the birthplace listed as a National Literary Landmark. Richard also enthusiastically engaged thousands of visitors who stopped by Fitzgerald’s birthplace, and welcomed scholars and schoolchildren into his home.
Richard died peacefully from cancer in September, 2012, having spent the previous few months happily arranging to leave a legacy to continue his passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald. His friends and family enthusiastically worked to support his vision. Richard was a kind, generous, thoughtful, and curious man who always will be missed by all who knew him, but working to support his Fitzgerald vision honors his memory and keeps his vision with us forever.
Board of Directors
Fitzgerald in Saint Paul was founded by a steering committee of individuals with an active interest in promoting the legacy of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his works. A volunteer-run organization, Fitzgerald in Saint Paul is now led by a Board of Directors:
President: Stu Wilson, Director/Principal Consultant, Library Strategies/The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library
Secretary/Treasurer: Melissa A. Barker, Research and Planning Analyst, Hennepin County
Melissa Brechon, Library Consultant; Former Director of the Carver County Library
Gerald Brennan, Director, The Brennan Group/Baird Wealth Management
Susan Hopp, Partner, 45 Degrees/Minneapolis
Laura Iandola, Ph.D. candidate in history
Stephen Kelleher, Senior Director, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management-Boston
Joel Pace, Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Dave Page, Retired Professor of English, Inver Hills Community College; Fitzgerald scholar/author
Lisa Venticinque, Owner, Lisa Venticinque Photography
Sarah Caflisch, Fitzgerald in Saint Paul Coordinator (contractual staff – ex officio)
Fitzgerald in Saint Paul
950 Hoyt Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55117
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