Chester County History Center to Present ‘The Mushroom Man Who Changed the World’

G. Raymond Rettew
Image via Chester County History Center.
G. Raymond Rettew.

One April 28, the Chester County History Center (CCHC) will present the world premiere of the documentary The Mushroom Man Who Changed the World: G. Raymond Rettew. The documentary highlights the life of West Chester chemist G. Raymond Rettew, his history-changing discovery: the method to mass produce penicillin, and his love and devotion to his community, town, and its people. The documentary was produced by Doug Gahm and Deborah Divine.

Rettew was a brilliant chemist driven by a selfless desire to find the solution to the mass production of penicillin. The results of his years of research have been described as one of the most significant scientific discoveries of their time, helping to change the course of modern medicine forever. His methods helped save the lives of tens of thousands of wounded American and Allied troops during World War II.

The documentary highlights Rettew’s life-saving discovery and shines a light on his passion, motivation, and tireless work that aided the war efforts of World War II; a man who took his work producing spawn for the mushroom industry in America and turned it into a groundbreaking discovery. It’s also a story about devotion to his hometown of West Chester and its people; about a town and a county that came together to achieve what seemed impossible: changing the course of medical history.

Producer Doug Gahm said, “As producers, Deb and I strongly believe we have a unique opportunity to share this powerful story with others as part of the rich history of Chester County. It’s a story steeped in the history of the mushroom industry in Chester County and a story that evolved into one of the most important medical discoveries of its time.”

Conor Hepp, Chester County History Center said, “We are celebrating the life and work of an individual who impacted, not just his community or even the world, but humanity. How can you not be inspired by the story of a person who created such change from his garage lab?”

The event will have the distinguished presence of documentarians Deborah Divine and Doug Gahm, the Rettew and Shirk families –grandchildren of G. Raymond Rettew– and special guests from the community for a fundraising dinner, documentary premiere, and special recognitions.

This event is of particular importance to not only the History Center, which served as the principal source of information for the making of the documentary, but to the medical and scientific community and West Chester.

The Chester County History Center’s mission is to link the past to the present; to inspire the future. Serving as a hub for cultural enrichment, experiential learning, and stewardship of collections, manuscripts, photographs, and other invaluable archival materials, CCHC preserves and shares Chester County’s diverse, noteworthy, and captivating stories with a wide range of audiences.

The organization aims to enhance community vitality and build historical literacy, the pillars of robust civic culture, through curated programming and resources that span hundreds of years. G. Raymond Rettew’s work and discovery place him in Chester County’s and our nation’s history of innovation and invention, a theme celebrated in America250.

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