One thing about historic buildings is – they’re old. They need maintenance and often costly upgrades so they can be enjoyed by future generations. In Washington state, there’s a whole list of projects that are cued up and ready for restoration.
There are 35 projects on the list, everything from Seattle’s Paramount Theater to the Fort Ward Community Hall on Bainbridge Island.
In 1995, the state legislature recognized the need to preserve historic places and artifacts, so it established the Heritage Capital Projects Fund. According to Jennifer Kilmer, director of the Washington State Historical Society, it’s one of the few issues that doesn’t cause a ruckus during budget season.
“You know the nice thing is that history really isn’t political. It’s not a Democrats issue or Republican issue,” said Kilmer.
Typically the legislature appropriates about $10 million every two years for renovations — things like upgrades to sounds systems in old theaters. Projects can even play a role in revitalizing a town.
“All of the little buildings that get funded across the state — so a historic gymnasium that functions as a community hall for a small town — for that community, the project is really important,” said Kilmer.
The list is vetted by the historical society along with architects and museum professionals. At the top of the list for this biennium? Here’s a hint, it’s often found in Port Townsend.
“The number one ranked project is the historic schooner, the Adventuress and this is part of their centennial restoration. It is one of only two National Historic Landmark sailing ships ... still in active operation on the West Coast,” said Kilmer.
Kilmer says you’d think eventually we’d run out of projects, but given the very nature of historic buildings, it’s pretty certain there’ll be a never-ending need to restore, refurbish and repair.