Award: Excellence on Main Award
The Elks Building was an important part of downtown Ellensburg since 1933, but after the Elks Club disbanded in the early 2000s, the building fell into a state of disrepair and many in Ellensburg believed the building was not worth saving.
In 2014, a Central Washington University alumnus and Wenatchee resident named Rory Turner, recognizing the value to the community and purchased the building.
Rory is no novice in the world of historic property renovation; he and wife Laurel have been investing in Wenatchee’s downtown for years – properties include the Exchange Building, Wenatchee Hotel and the Dore Building. Laurel serves on the Wenatchee Downtown Association board of directors and chairs the organization’s Economic Vitality committee. Rory is currently the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce board president and was recently elected Port of Chelan County Commissioner. Despite numerous community commitments, the Turners still find time to engage in lasting change for Wenatchee’s historic downtown properties. They have been instrumental in working with the city to identify barriers and opportunities to the viability of property renovations, particularly those that add housing units to upper floors downtown and provide spaces for small start-up businesses.
In Ellensburg, the life Rory and his team have breathed into the Elks Building has spurred new businesses and new investment in nearby historic properties. Since the purchase in 2014, the Elks building has recruited three tenants, with more interested as spaces become available. The upstairs is currently being renovated to include a huge ballroom which will be available as a rentable event space.
Rory’s passion for historic preservation and for downtown has transformed significant Central Washington buildings back into viable properties and sources of great community pride. His attention to detail and preservation ethic are prevalent in everything he does, from selecting fixtures that complement the historic building to going the extra mile to involve the community in a project. We are honored to recognize Rory’s impact on Wenatchee, Ellensburg, and the entire state of Washington with the Excellence on Main Award.