New Heights for Providence Heights?

By Shayna G., Lopez Island Middle School Student

The 1960s were an important time in history for both women and the Catholic Church. Women were finally beginning to gain more rights and opportunities when it came to their professions. Up until then, women had very few choices of professions to choose from, where as men had seemingly endless choices.

Women of the Catholic Church had even fewer choices than their secular counterparts due to their education. In high school, young women training to be nuns learned about the Catholic Church along with their regular high school curriculum. After graduation, these nuns would only learn about the Catholic Church. In the 1950s and 1960s, this began to change as the Church came to the realization that their nuns in training needed more knowledge than what they learned about Catholicism.

The Sister Foundation came to the conclusion that one solution to this problem would be to build and open a college where women studying to be nuns could take regular college classes such as chemistry, math, and literacy, in addition to their religious studies. The college they opened was called as Providence Heights College in Issaquah, WA.

Providence Heights Campus is located on a beautiful plateau in Issaquah, surrounded by farmland. The Sister Foundation spent 6 million dollars to build the entire campus before is was opened in 1961. They spent extra money for quality building materials and design.

Perhaps the most expensive part of the campus is the center cathedral; which has fourteen 33-foot-tall stained glass windows that weigh approximately one ton each. The windows were the work of Gabriel Lore, a world renowned French stained glass artist. Lore had a very unique art style because he crafted one-inch-thick glass chunks into beautiful, modern designs – instead of imitating classic stained glass windows. Gabriel Lore passed away 20 years ago. There will never again be art pieces exactly like these windows.

After opening, Providence Heights College thrived for about five years. Thousands of women were registering for the college. This began to change as women started to have more rights and job opportunities that they were previously denied. Some women felt they didn’t need to become nuns as other professions became available to them. As more and more women came to this realization, fewer began to sign up for Providence Heights College. Only eight years after the college’s opening, there were so few women attending the college that it didn’t make economic sense to keep the college open. It was shut down in 1969.

Since its closing, the college has remained mostly vacant. It briefly served as an Issaquah preschool and a meeting place for local organizations. Although the campus is currently not being used, many residents of Issaquah believe that the campus would serve wonderfully as either a community center, a school, or a meeting place for different organizations. Because the Sister Foundation spent the extra money on quality building materials, the campus is still intact and in great condition. In fact, the campus is in such great condition that Steve Thues, outreach manager of the Sammamish Heritage Society says: “It’s almost a turn-key school as it is. You could probably go in and start teaching classes here this week.”

Despite the fact that the campus is in such great condition and has never been remodeled, making it a great example of 1960s architecture, there has still been plans filed with the city of Issaquah for the entire campus to be leveled and replaced with 133 modern homes. If these plans come to fruition, not only will a historic, non replaceable cathedral be destroyed, but also part of Issaquah’s history will be lost forever.

Although there are organizations working to have the campus demolished, there are also many people working to preserve the campus. Local city residents and preservation groups such as the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and the Sammamish Heritage Society, are working to save the historic campus.

An example of a local Issaquah resident working to save the campus is Ella Moore. Moore is the president of the Sammamish Heritage Society and has been a Sammamish resident for fifty years. “This is too unique to be destroyed,” she said. “We need those things up here because it’s development crazy and the children and all peoples need to know that there was history here on the plateau; and this is a prime example.”

Providence Heights Campus represents an important time in history for both women and the Catholic Church. Although the campus is not even a century old, it’s still an important historic site in Washington  State, and it contains an irreplaceable center cathedral with the work of a world famous stained glass artist. If this whole campus is leveled all these things will be lost.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation website says that if you want to help take part in the potential preservation of Providence Heights Campus, you can contact the City of Issaquah and ask that city officials require the developer to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. If required, an EIS would compel the developer to consider alternatives to demolition and would provide critical time to identify potential preservation-friendly uses for the site.

To learn more go to http://preservewa.org/news134.aspx or download the Washington State Insider app when it launches in mid-June.

 

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Stone Houses

By Sonnette R., Lopez Island Middle School Student

During the Great Depression, Clint Dobson, a businessman in LaCrosse, Washington, built several houses out of basalt stone because he didn’t have enough money for other materials. The stone houses were built between 1934 and 1936 from rocks out of the fields in Lacrosse. These buildings are very unique for this time period, and they attract many tourists and photographers.

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The basalt stones in the Lacrosse fields were created by the repeated flooding from Lake Missoula over thousands of years. This shaped the area of Lacrosse, including nearby Palouse Falls.

Palouse Falls

According to Lacrosse local, Peggy Bryan, “the unique geological events of the Missoula floods combined with the unique construction of these depression-era basalt stone structures provide an important and historically significant preservation opportunity that is well worth pursuing.” Protecting this historical monument would provide “a great educational opportunity.”

The LaCrosse community’s goal is to have a Missoula Floods/Ice Age museum in the old gas station that was made out of stone. According to Bryan, this would “add value to our community, both economically and culturally.”

LaCrosse Stone Station

LaCrosse Community Pride is working with the WSU School of Design and Construction’s Rural Communities Design Initiative on this project. Community input was facilitated and conceptual designs have been developed for the incorporation of a visitor center in the museum. There are five other rock structures on the property that could provide many opportunities, including artist retreats, a farming museum, local gift shops, tasting rooms, and bed and breakfasts, among others.

Originally, the stone houses were used as rental units by local farmhands, workers, and railroad crews. Clint Dobson operated the service station and repair shop for many years until Hank Pile took over, operating the station and houses until the 1960s.

Today two houses, three cabins, and the service station are still standing. The buildings are important because they bring visitors to the area. Lacrosse Community Pride is focused on preventing these structures from being torn down.

To learn more about the LaCrosse Stone Houses, find them in the Washington State Insider app (available mid-June 2016). When you visit, you’ll earn points that will get you a discount at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.

 

Saving Enloe Dam

By Ava F., Lopez Island Middle School Student

Last year my dad and I took a trip to Eastern Washington on vacation. One stop on our trip was a waterfall on the Similkameen River near the town of Oroville. While walking to the falls, we passed several abandoned buildings along the river’s edge. I was curious about these buildings, and this year in Northwest History class I was able to get some answers about their history.  What I have learned is that the buildings I passed that day are what remains of the Enloe Dam, a dam that provided power to the surrounding community in the early 1900s. I also learned that the Enloe Dam is one of the Most Endangered Historic Properties in Washington State.

Similkameen River

Enloe Dam is a small rundown power plant placed next to a beautiful waterfall. The Similkameen River provided power to the area starting in 1907. The powerhouse we know today as Enloe Dam was built using local brick in the 1920s by Eugene Enloe. The town of  Oroville relied on Enloe for its power and electricity until the 1950s, when Bonneville Power started provided cheaper and more efficient electricity to the area.

The Enloe Dam has seen better days. Not many people can see what it was once used for, as it is now rundown and very much abandoned. The building itself was very sturdy until vandals started to destroy it.

Enloe Dam Powerhouse

The history of this Dam was built by the men and women who worked there. Without them there would be no Enloe Dam, and the people in the surrounding towns would not have power. This Dam faces the terrifying truth of extinction. With Enloe being so remote, there does not seem like there could be a lot of use for the building. Some people think this could be turned into a museum or even a rest area for travelers coming through the area.

The communities surrounding Enloe Dam and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation are trying to save it. I encourage you to visit the Dam. You can find it in the Washington State Insider app (available mid-June).

Enloe Dam

Relocating the Dvorak Barn

By Mallory Q., Lopez Island Middle School Student

The Dvorak Barn on 22274 Russell Rd in Kent, WA represents the area’s agricultural heritage. It is slated to be torn down to make way for a levee that will be going through the farm on which it sits. I hate this. Do you know why I hate this? I hate this because the Dvorak barn has an intriguing history.

Dvorak Barn - from front

The Dvorak Barn on 22274 Russell Rd in Kent, WA

One of the earliest settlers of the Kent Valley, David A. Neely, was the recipient of a Homestead Land Grant for the area that became a 320-acre farm. Built in 1906, the Neely’s home preceded the barn, which was built in 1925. This is interesting because the house acted as the first post office for the first postmaster in Kent. Not only did they deliver the mail, they helped Kent become the lettuce capital of Washington State. Pretty cool, huh?

The farm flourished due to their lead in hops, corn, lettuce and onions – until eventually modern times caught up with them. The Neelys were doing well with their farm and post office, until the postmaster, David A. Neely, passed away. He passed his farm onto one of his eight children, James Neely.

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A hops farming family in early Kent

Interstate 5 eventually had to be built. As it expanded, it ran through Kent Valley, eliminating a lot of the farming land in the area. The barn closed because of the new highway. The result: an awesome little bit of history fell into disrepair.  Now with the levee needing to run through the farm, all buildings on that stretch of land will need to be torn down or moved.

Over time, all the farms in the Kent Valley have disappeared as warehouses have sprung up over the past 50 years. This started with the construction of the Boeing Space Center in the 60s. Within the past few months, Amazon.com opened a massive distribution center. Kent, once known for agriculture, has become the 4th-largest warehouse distribution center in the United States.

Amazon Distribution Center - Kent

Amazon’s new Kent distribution warehouse, less than a half-mile away from the Dvorak Barn

As a former 4H-er I am proud of the farm lands in Washington State. All Washingtonians are proud of our farm lands. It’s a big disappointment to all of the local farm owners to see this barn be condemned.

One way of saving the barn would be to move it. Sharon Bersaas, long-time Kent resident, has advocated for this option in order to preserve this legacy. “Our history has a wonderful story and using the Barn for an interpretive center we would be able to tell our story to future generations,” said Bersaas.

Bersaas and others have lobbied to get the barn moved to a preserved property, but the isolated area – along with the lack of funding – has made this venture a nonstarter.

One way to move the barn would be through crowd-sourced fundraisers such as gofundme, kickstarter or indiegogo. These could help raise funds to relocate the barn. The Greater Kent Historical Society’s Facebook page has a lot of information about the barn.  It could be used to make a Kent Historical Museum or an art gallery, or something along those lines. I think it would be neat if they were to make it into a restaurant. It would be awesome if they were to put up pictures of the barn, Kent and the community back in the 1920s, up on the walls around in the barn. Not only would you be eating, you would also be learning about some of the history of Kent, which, in my opinion, is pretty dang cool.

I hope that this story is meaningful to you and you want to help raise funds for the barn. Help support awareness by downloading the Washington State Insider App (available mid-June) and visiting the Dvorak Barn in Kent!

Dvorak Barn - from back

The back of the Dvorak Barn

Woodinville Schoolhouse’s Last Lesson: How to Preserve our Past

By Anna V., Lopez Island Middle School Student

Woodinville Schoolhouse is one of the last remaining historic buildings in Woodinville, WA. Woodinville was one of the first towns to be settled across Lake Washington from Seattle in the 1880s. The schoolhouse is on the corner of 133rd Ave NE and NE 175th Street, near Woodinville City Hall and the sports fields – once the center of activity of Woodinville. It has been vacant for sixteen years, and minimal effort has been made to keep it maintained. The building now is starting to get cracks on the walls. There are plants growing up against the walls as well. Without any rehabilitation, the building will crumble. Once this building is destroyed no one can recover all the history that it represents.

Woodinville Schoolhouse front

Originally a wooden structure, the Woodinville Schoolhouse is actually a compilation of three  building projects. It now stands as an example of  1930s architecture and the New Deal program,  Work Projects Administration (WPA).

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The Schoolhouse served the kids of Woodinville for almost a century until it closed down in the 1970s. By that time, the Woodinville population had outgrown the Schoolhouse, so it was rented out to community groups. It was later used for city hall, but the City of Woodinville closed it down after the Nisqually Earthquake made the building unsafe to occupy. The Woodinville Schoolhouse now faces “demolition by neglect.”

Woodinville leaders disagree on the future of the Schoolhouse. Many people want to remodel it. Others, such as members of the City Council, want to tear down the building to make room for a parking garage. The Woodinville Heritage Society’s mission is to preserve and perpetuate the history of the greater Woodinville area.  Rick  Chatterton, Heritage Society Board President, would like to see the Schoolhouse once again be a gathering place for the community. Chatterton and the Heritage Society are talking to the State of Washington to confirm that the building is on the National Historic Landmark list. If it is on the list, it will be much harder, if not impossible, for the City Council to have the building torn down.

Chatterton feels that it is important to preserve the Schoolhouse. “It is more than just bricks and mortar; it tells the story of our community,” he said. “It represents the importance of education, community activities and how we have grown over the last century. To lose it would mean losing 120 years of history and robbing future generations of our unique story.”

Rick Chatterton

Rick Chatterton, Board President, Woodinville Heritage Society

The Woodinville Heritage Society has been driving the efforts to preserve the Woodinville Schoolhouse since 2004.  Over the years there has been support from some members of the City Council and various private building interests.  In 2001 the City, through the Woodinville Landmarks Commission and King County Landmarks and Heritage Commission, designated the building as a City of Woodinville Landmark. Recently, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Schoolhouse on its Most Endangered Properties List.

The history and the value of the Schoolhouse will never be the same if people want to ruin what is left. This building has been in Woodinville for 120 years. Destroying it would be a terrible thing.  As Chatterton explains, “Once a historic building like the Woodinville Schoolhouse is destroyed, it is gone forever.”

If you would like more information you can download the Washington State Insider app (launching mid-June 2016) and earn points for visiting the Woodinville Schoolhouse. Those points can be redeemed for discounted entry to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. You should also check out Woodinville Heritage Society’s website: www.WoodinvilleHeritage.org

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Woodinville School students, circa 1950

RevitalizeWA

For most Lopez School students, the word “endangered” brings to mind species of plants or animals that live in this fragile ecosystem that is the San Juan Islands: disappearing lichen from rocks on Iceberg Point, diminishing populations of sea birds, or hundreds of other species of concern around the Salish Sea. In the past few weeks, we’ve learned about another endangered list: historic properties around Washington State.

In late April I attended a conference in Chelan, called RevitalizeWA, organized by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. With my summer history trip around the state approaching, I thought this would be a good way to get a sense of some of the communities I’d be visiting in advance of hitting the road to promote the Washington State Insider app. During the opening reception of the conference, Chris Moore, the executive director for Washington Trust, announced the 2016 Most Endangered Properties List for Washington State – seven at-risk properties that embody the cultural heritage of their respective communities and the region overall. I was surprised to see that the #1 Most Endangered Property is Enloe Dam – a location that Ava, one of our ProjectWA students, had identified to put in the Washington State Insider app!

I learned so much at RevitalizeWA – from strategies to “right size” legacy cities to innovative approaches to preserving communities’ Main Streets – that I had to report back to our students upon my return to Lopez. To my surprise and delight, the students suggested that their final ProjectWA projects (a blog post to be published on this site) should be focused on this year’s Most Endangered Properties List. The idea makes so much sense, and I’m thrilled that this was the students’ idea, not mine.

We immediately took action on this idea. Each student picked one of the properties from the 2016 list, reached out to that property’s champion (usually the local Heritage Society), and created a location entry for the Washington State Insider app. We have a small class of just five students, but we’ve created app entries for each of the seven properties. For their blog posts, Ava picked Enloe Dam, given she was already interested in that place; Anna picked Woodinville Schoolhouse; Shayna picked Providence Heights College, Mallory picked the Dvorak Barn; and Sonnette picked the LaCrosse Rock Houses. Every one of the students’ property contacts replied immediately with enthusiasm – answering questions and providing more background information, maps, photos and videos. The students are now in the process of writing their blog posts.

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Lopez Island Middle School students work on their final projects, Most Endangered Properties

When Mr. Rovente and I came up with the idea for this semester’s ProjectWA class, we had no idea this is where we’d end up. We started with a good cause: raising awareness of the lesser known aspects of Washington State history while raising money for new text books. We’re ending up with an even bigger objective: helping preserve the places that represent Washington State’s cultural heritage.

RevitalizeWA