Partners in Preservation helps save Seattle-area history

Back in 2006, American Express partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create program called Partners in Preservation, aimed at providing much needed funds for historic places throughout the US. After distributing funds in Boston, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco, the program has come to Seattle to issue grants to historical sites in funds for preservation and protection.

Twenty-five nominees – including Chapel Car 5 in Snoqualmie, Spanish Steps in Tacoma, King Street Station here in Seattle, and the Point No Point Lighthouse in Hansville – have been selected as candidates for grants issued based on votes from the public. All 25 nominees were selected on the basis of their historical and cultural significance to the area; from the Ferry House at Ebey’s Landing in Coupeville, built back in 1859 and one of the oldest residential buildings in Washington state still standing, to the Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks, installed in 1982, all of the locations are important local landmarks and all of them are worth preserving.

Settled places change over time. That change is natural, inevitable, and valuable, of course, but if we don’t hold on to our history, we lose is and there’s no amount of money that can make up for that loss. Besides serving as enduring symbols of our area’s fascinating history, the nominees (some of which are a century or more old) continue to provide service to our communities. For example, the Bowman Bay Kitchen Shelter in Deception Pass State Park on Fidalgo Island, was built back in the 1930s as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps projects around the Sound and remains today a popular and valued community gathering place. The Kirkland Arts Center is housed in a building built by Peter Kirk–the man who gave the town its name–back in 1892 and for nearly fifty years has been giving locals a chance to experience and take part in the arts.

Other nominees are the Port Townsend US Customs House and Post Office, the Schooner Adventuress, University Heights Community Center, Theodor Jacobsen Observatory, Tugboat Arthur Foss, Naval Reserve Armory-MOHAI, Horiuchi’s Seattle Mural, the 5th Avenue Theatre, Town Hall Seattle, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Japanese Cultural & Community Center, Keewaydin Clubhouse, Skansie Brothers Net Shed, Titlow Park Lodge, Anderson Island Historical Society/Johnson Farm, and Orting Soldiers Home.

The Partners in Preservation will be giving away a total of $1 million for local preservation efforts. You can participate in this process by going to their site and casting a vote for the site(s) you care about the most. You can get an overview of all 25 nominees (and get linked to further information) on their grant nominees page. You can vote for one nominee per day through May 12. At the end of the voting process, the top vote getter is guaranteed a portion of the million bucks in funds. Your votes will also help the partnership and a locally-based advisory group decide how to distribute the rest of the funding.

Voting is easy and free and you get to learn about a lot of neat places around the area. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to check them out in person, too; and, if you can, please consider providing some direct support to any of these great organizations.

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