Grant opens window for improvements at Walla Walla museum

The Kirkman House Museum got a boost for planned work on the house's 35-odd windows.

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WALLA WALLA -- A local museum has received a small boost for a long-term upgrade project.

On Tuesday, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation announced the 2011 Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund grant awards for several organizations in Washington state, including Walla Walla's Kirkman House Museum.

The museum at 214 N. Colville St. was granted $1,000 to help with window rehabilitation.

While that amount will only help with the current restoration of kitchen windows in the 130-year-old house, "every little bit helps," said Kirsten Schober, Kirkman House executive director.

Much of the restoration work done at the museum in the past few years has addressed interior needs, she said. "This (grant) is perfect timing. Now it's time to start focusing on the exterior."

The initial phase of rehabilitating the 35 or so windows means taking some all the way out for restoring and reconditioning the wood, in order to keep the house as original as possible, Schober noted. Long-term efforts will include adding interior storm windows to help with climate control.

Before 2004, the museum was largely dependent on volunteer staff working with a limited budget for preservation, the director explained. In the 1990s, several of the building's windows were scraped and painted, "which didn't really get down to the original problem."

Schober is anticipating the window work will begin in early spring.

Other 2011 grantees included the City of Ellensburg, $2,000 to repair the roof of the Northern Pacific Railway Depot in downtown; Gig Harbor Boatshop, $1,000 to repair and restore the hull of Thunderbird No. 2, a racing sailboat designed and manufactured in Gig Harbor; and the Ezra Meeker Historical Society in Puyallup, $2,000 to help rehabilitate dining room windows at the Meeker Mansion.

Also awarded was the Maryhill Museum of Art and Northwest Schooner Society.

Since 1998, the preservation trust has awarded 79 projects totaling more than $67,000 in funding to local historic preservation organizations and advocates engaged in preserving Washington's cultural heritage.

Funding for the grant program is obtained from private donations to the Trust with the goal of providing a minimum of $6,000 in grant funding per year.

For more information, go to www.wa-trust.org or call 206-624-9449.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom.

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