40 for 40: Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund
Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

By Holly Chaimberlain previous story | next story | all stories

The setting – Early November, 1997. Old Town Tacoma. The Spar Tavern. Late autumn, mid-morning sun slanting in through the front windows and highlighting the small, square, highly-varnished wooden-topped tables.

Dramatis personae – Washington Trust board members meeting following the annual conference.

Act I – As Washington Trust business was being discussed, board member Feliks Banel noted that organizations that perform outreach in the form of grants are more effective and receive more positive notice than those that don’t. He proposed creating a new Washington Trust program, called Washington Preserves, to provide small but meaningful amounts of money to promote historic preservation around the state. Enthusiastic discussion ensued, Feliks drew a logo of a jam jar on a bar napkin, and a motion in favor passed unanimously. Board members Mary Thompson and Holly Chamberlain wrote the first checks on the spot, and additional funds were given by other board members, and dedicated later from Washington Trust reserves, and fundraisers.

Act II – Committee chair Banel and members Clo Copass and Jennifer Meisner established criteria and procedures in time to make the first grant the following spring to Historic Ellensburg for its rodeo grandstand preservation project. Grant preparer and former board member Flo Lentz made the case that this important part of Central Washington history and culture should be evaluated for preservation potential by an expert. The assessment by architect Gene Grulich convinced the rodeo board to proceed with rehabilitation, and grants from the NTHP Preservation Services Fund and Washington’s Heritage Capital Fund followed. In late 2000, the endeavor was re-named the Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund. Eugenia Woo suggested the re-naming in memory of the former Washington Trust president, committed and talented preservationist, and our greatly esteemed colleague and dear friend, who died in October 2000.

Act III – As envisioned, the fund has continued to grow over time and fulfill its goal to help inspire preservation at the local level. Over $124,000 has been granted to 124 projects sponsored by organizations all over the state for myriad aspects of rehabilitation and preservation planning – parapets, bell towers, brick re-pointing, foundations, roofs, painting – the list goes on and on. Intentionally, the monies have further served as a catalyst – a vote of confidence - to help groups secure additional funds for their projects. The Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund serves as a model for other preservation organizations around the nation. 

Images of the projects that recieved grants from the Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund for 2016. To read more about the program or see a list of recipients from previous years, click here.

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust in honor of our accomplishments as we celebrate this year together! Continuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

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