Visitors to The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum never miss the ring-shaped area paved with red bricks just before the entrance to the museum. Marked by a small pedestal with a commemorative plaque, the Raymond Burrr Memorial is home to a few hundred bricks inscribed with names of friends, members, pets, or late loved ones. The garden gets updated throughout the year with the addition of new bricks.
The garden was completed in 1996 to commemorate the head of its capital campaign and supporter, actor Raymond Burr who passed away in 1993. Widely known for his portrayal of Perry Mason in the TV series of the same name, Burr was instrumental in the museum's initial development and credited with bringing public attention to the project. An avid shell collector, Burr 's donations of his shells and fundraising activities helped start the museum.
A tribute in the museum's newsletter shortly after Burr's passing, and retold by William F. Hallstead in his book "Idea to Reality" (which provides the history of the museum from its inception to opening) reads, "We knew him as a dynamic booster of the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, a warm personal friend. So beloved was Raymond Burr by so many people, that his passing, even weeks later, still seems a shock."
Maintenance person Harry Ridenour updates the Raymond Burr Memorial Garden with new donor bricks.
Donors purchase the bricks for $150 and choose the inscription. If interested to make a donation or for more information contact the museum at (239) 395-2233.