OCHLOCKNEE — Pope's Store Museum had a special delivery this week when it received a letter from Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II is interested in the museum's history and its World War II memorial, the letter states. 

The memorial was constructed by folk artist Laura Pope Forester in the late 1940s.

"Her Majesty was interested to know about the art work of Mrs. Laura Pope Forester, the previous owner of your home, and of the story behind some of the figures she chose to depict in her sculptures," wrote deputy correspondence coordinator Jennie Vine, MVO, on behalf of the queen.

The letter was addressed to Michelle Dean, the museum's executive director and owner of the former Pope home.

Pope wanted Americans to remember Great Britain's partnership with the United States during the Second World War, Dean said, and the visage of the Queen Mother, Elizabeth II's mother, was included in the memorial along with several other prominent figures as a tribute to her nation's sacrifice.

At the urging of her children, Dean wrote a letter in May informing Buckingham Palace of the memorial's history and of her intentions to reopen the museum to the public.

"We really wanted her to know that there was a memorial to her family and her mom and herself in south Georgia," Dean said. "We were fairly confident that she had no idea that there was this national treasure that a portion of which was for her."

Thursday afternoon, Dean received a response in her mailbox.

"I wasn't even sure that it wasn't junk mail because I didn't notice it was Royal Mail," Dean said. "I didn't notice the seal of Buckingham Palace."

Once Dean opened the letter, she realized that it carried the queen's official seal, and she called over her children to share in the excitement that they had gotten a response.

"We were really excited and we enjoyed the moment that Her Majesty wrote us," Dean said. "How cool is that?"

Dean plans on eventually framing the letter, but her correspondence with the queen isn't finished yet. She plans on writing back to Buckingham Palace within the next several weeks.

"The way we read it is that she wants some more information about why Laura chose different figures to make statues of," Dean said.

Since she purchased the abandoned Pope home in January 2017, Dean has led efforts to restore the museum and return some of Pope's lost artwork. 

Hearing back from the queen may be Dean's crowning achievement so far, but she said there's still work to do, including the restoration of the World War II memorial.

The memorial has partially been cleaned, but Dean said there are still living organisms on it that are in danger of permanently damaging it.

"We are in a race against time to preserve this World War II memorial," Dean said.

An upcoming escape room fundraiser for the memorial's restoration will take place Oct. 24. Dean is currently seeking corporate sponsors for the event.

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