The Wharton Memorial Foundation (WMF) is a 501 c-3 organization established in 1996 for the express purpose of promoting the cultural arts in Bedford in two ways:
- Through the establishment of a significant public garden to envelop our newly-renovated Public Library and the three historic structures built either by, or through, the efforts of the Wharton family, and
- Through the restoration and the subsequent public use of the buildings themselves.
The Gardens, designed by Robert McDuffie of Virginia Tech, have been substantially completed from the Central Library to the Bower Center.
The Charles Wharton House, built circa 1886, is owned by the City and was restored in 1997 by the Bedford Historical Society.
The John Wharton House, built in 1848, was purchased and restored by the WMF in 1997.
The Bower Center for the Arts (originally St. John’s Episcopal Church and later the Bedford Christian Church) was purchased in 2005 by the WMF, through a gift from Dr. John Bower.
In 2008, the WMF assumed the development and management of the Bower Center for the Arts. The Bower Center is dedicated to music and arts education and performance for the benefit of the Bedford Community.