Did you know 4,600 barns were built by Oregon Trail Settlers through Willamette Valley land claims from 1841 and 1865?
And did you know only 23 remain?
But, with funding and support from the Cultural Trust and its partner, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Portland-based nonprofit Restore Oregon is taking steps to preserve the homes and barns that made up the original Pioneer settlements. In 2010 Restore Oregon (then called Historic Preservation League of Oregon), created an annual list of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places.
A grant from the Trust enabled them to do outreach and education about these old buildings, and community engagement around their restoration in more than 10 towns and cities statewide. They noticed that many applications came from Willamette Valley farms, all over 150 years old and, according to Restore Oregon Senior Field Programs Manager, Brandon Spencer-Hartle, “not up to code, or falling down.” Most of these properties have stayed in one family since the original settlements, said Spencer-Hartle. “Some of them are surrounded by cities and towns now, and maybe the current owner doesn’t know what to do.”
By the third year of the Endangered Places project, the organization decided to group the homesteads into one category, listing over 230 properties as Endangered Pioneer Era Settlements. “Instead of a campaign to save one building, it became a campaign to save several buildings or a type of building,” said Spencer-Hartle. Restore Oregon teamed up with SHPO, which did a nine-county survey over three months and released a report on its findings. “People came on the Oregon Trail and built their own barns with hand-hewn timber and no nails,” said Spencer-Hartle. “It was the beginning of Oregon’s agricultural history.”
The Oregon Trail may be Oregon’s most famous icon, as recognizable to many visitors as Mt. Hood. “We’ll lose the wagon ruts over time, but what will still be around, if we want them to be, are the original homesteads,” said Spencer-Hartle.
Applications are now in place for the National Park Service to place all these buildings on the National Historic Register of Places, but that could take six months or so. Meanwhile, Restore Oregon is planning community outreach, including informational “Preservation Pub,” nights at local brewpubs across the Willamette Valley. “Most of the restored houses become museums, government property, or private homes,” said Spencer-Hartle, but he believes that’s a limited scope of what the houses and barns could become.“There are opportunities for agricultural and heritage tourism, to turn the buildings into restaurants, tasting rooms, B&Bs, agri-B&Bs, outdoor concert venues. The question is, how do you reinvent these properties to be economically viable and have contemporary uses? It’s a new mentality.”
The Oregon Cultural Trust raises 80% of its annual donations in the last six weeks of the year. And 2013 was no exception.
After the rush of last-minute gifts, online, by phone and by mail, the tallying began January 2, with 2013-postmarked mail still arriving from across the state. Though we won’t have a final number until the end of February, we already have good news to report.
The Trust’s ongoing partnership with Willamette Week Give!Guide showed a 25% increase in 2013 over 2012, for a total of $243,720 (2012 donations came in at $195,058). A new Give!Guide feature prompted contributors to Cultural Trust partner nonprofits to match with a Trust gift on the same website and qualify for the state cultural tax credit. Thank you Willamette Week Give!Guide, for all your support!
Media partners were generous, publishing positive opinion pieces written by community leaders. In at least two cases (The Daily Astorian, Eugene Register Guard) followed guest pieces with year-end reminders and editorials. December 31 donations came to $364,000, which is $100,000 more than the last day of 2012.
As usual, contributions flooded in on the last week of the year, many from new donors who saw our ads featuring Holly Andres photos commissioned for the Trust, and a billboard using Holly Andres’ image of Cheryl Strayed, which spent six weeks at two locations in downtown Portland. This winter the Trust was also able to augment its online, print, TV and radio advertising and its social media presence, with almost 1,000 new Facebook likes since November.
Thank you to Sheepscot Creative, Peterson Media, Thomas Osborne, In-House Printing, and CGI Printing, for a great 2013 ad campaign. The upshot: more people than ever now understand the important work of the Cultural Trust, its partner nonprofits and grantees, and the exceptional state tax credit that makes it all possible.
Oregonians have long recognized that creativity is the mother of invention. Certainly Salt & Straw ice cream entrepreneurs and Oregon Cultural Trust supporters Kim and Tyler Malek would agree. Innovation, curiosity and discovery are all sparked by culture – our arts, heritage and humanities.
With your support this year, the Trust is leveraging donation dollars through grants to organizations that exemplify this spirit of invention. For example, Portland’s OMSI is developing and promoting community spaces to encourage greater participation in make-it-yourself activities; Pendleton Center for the Arts’ ArtsZoom program brings art instruction to children all over Umatilla County by utilizing Skype; and, in Southern Oregon, the restoration of Medford Corporation’s No. 4 Willamette geared steam locomotive fosters the love of movement and exploration inherent in Oregon’s deep railroad history.
The Cultural Trust is a constant partner in promoting this sense of discovery, providing seed money to more than 1,000 cultural organizations statewide since 2003, this year granting more than $1.6 million to nonprofits that spark curiosity in our children, inspire innovation in our workforce, and make lifelong learners out of every Oregonian.
The creative economy is thriving all over Oregon, in part because of our cultural treasures and reputation as an “incubator” for creativity. With your help, the Oregon Cultural Trust plays a vital role in building strong Oregon communities and enriches lives every day.
Please ensure that Oregon remains a fertile place for invention, from fine art to ice cream. Take advantage of our unique tax credit by making your gift before December 31st. Simply return your gift in the enclosed envelope or visit www.culturaltrust.org to make your gift though our secure online donation page and learn more about the tax credit.
Please give to the Cultural Trust today!
The Oregon Cultural Trust Board approved $1,618,056 in grants for the coming year at its quarterly meeting in Newport July 25. Awards of $539,351 were made in each of the Trust’s three grant categories: competitive cultural development grants, cultural participation grants (to county and tribal cultural coalitions), and partner grants to the Trust’s five statewide partners (Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Historical Society and State Office of Historic Preservation).
“The Cultural Trust, now in its tenth year of grantmaking, is supporting some of Oregon’s most innovative and inclusive arts, heritage and humanities programming. These are projects that bring us together as communities, inspire our children and attract thousands of visitors to our state,” said Christine D’Arcy, executive director. “We estimate the grantees’ direct spending in this round of funding will be in excess of $14 million.”Cultural Development grants support a wide range of projects: preservation and renovation of such important stuctures as The WOW Hall in Eugene and the Happy Canyon Grandstand in Pendleton; tours of live performces to be undertaken by Eugene Ballet, Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Portland Youth Philharmonic, and projects that connect culture with Oregon youth and families. Although 28 of the 49 Cultural Development grants will go to groups in the Portland metro area, many will support performances, residencies, classes, and workshops in smaller towns. Portland Opera to Go, Hand2Mouth Theatre, Oregon Children’s Foundation and Portland Youth Philharmonic, as examples, will tour as part of the scope of their grant.
To see full list of Competitive Cultural Development grants and Cultural Participation grants, by region, click here.
Outgoing Cultural Trust Board member and former Oregon Arts Commission and Cultural Trust Board Chair Norm Smith lauded the board for its funding recommendations. “I see increased accessibility and broadened reach as important themes of this year’s grant giving. Having served on the Trust Board since 2006, this represents to me a wonderful evolution - of the Cultural Trust’s grant making philosophy and the Oregon cultural community itself.”
Sisters High School senior Jaimee Simundson has done some extraordinary things in her first eighteen years. She recorded a CD, built a guitar, taught fifth grade music, and held a professional internship. Her post-graduation plan is to serve with Americorps and then head to college.
Nine years ago Jaimee had different interests, a mix of academics and athletics, until she discovered the Americana Project. The project, which brings music education and American folk traditions to the public schools in Sisters, mentored Jaimee to find herself, not only as a performer, but as a teacher, songwriter, luthier, and member of a focused, achievement-based peer group. This June, she’ll graduate with career experience, education options, and a unique life trajectory.
The Oregon Cultural Trust, through the Deschutes County Cultural Coalition, has made multiple grants to the Americana Project. Directly, and through its county and tribal coalitions and five statewide partners, the Trust has awarded thousands of arts, heritage and humanities grants.This important work inspires our children, engages our citizens and fuels our economy, ensuring that Oregon is and remains a great place to live, work and play, all the while building a permanent fund for culture in Oregon.It’s simple to give to the Oregon Cultural Trust. And that gift benefits you while it increases tourism, builds community, and educates young people across the state.First, donate to one or more of the 1,300+ cultural nonprofits in Oregon. A searchable list is provided at http://www.culturaltrust.org/what-we-support/participating-cultural-non-profits. Then, make an equal gift to the Cultural Trust. Oregon’s unique cultural tax credit means your Trust donation comes back to you when you file your taxes – up to $500 per individual, $1,000 for households filing jointly and $2,500 for C-Corp businesses.Give by June 30 to continue providing uncharted opportunities for Oregonians like Jaimee Simundson. Join me in supporting Oregon culture by making your gift, today!
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