Drexel Foundation Gets Help From Restore Oregon


Restore Oregon, after careful consideration of numerous applications, chose the Vale’s (Drexel) Hotel for it listing of “Oregon’s Most Endangered Places”. Restore Oregon works hand in hand with sites earning the “Oregon’s Most Endangered Places” designation to bring together rehabilitation expertise, resources, grants, and local support to bring these significant and irreplaceable sites back to life in their communities and to be passed forward to future generations. “It is an honor to share this designation with some of the finest historical sites treasured in the entire state. This is a vote of confidence to our entire community. Being placed on this special list is acknowledgment that we are capable of making our community stronger thru preserving this fine and beautiful building, and we urgently need more help!” Said Sandijean Fuson President of the Drexel H. Foundation. Each year Restore Oregon publishes its list selected from nominations from across the state. Each place selected is historically significant and in imminent danger of being lost if not helped. These designated places receive direct assistance from a seed grant for preservation and technical staff support from restore Oregon. On Nov 11th a celebration was held in Portland’s Sentinel hotel to make this important announcement and celebrate the past “ Endangered” places taken of the list after getting the help they needed in preservation. The gathering also celebrated exemplary projects receiving the DeMuro Awards for historic Restoration completed during 2016. Most of those projects took many many years.

The Vale Hotel, originally called the Drexel Hotel, was built in 1907 and opened for business in 1908. With 58 rooms, white linen service in the dining room, and a Chinese laundry, the Drexel Hotel was often compared to the Idanha Hotel in Boise. Like the Reinhart Stone House and Grand Opera House, the Vale Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hotel is 74ft X 94 ft, has three levels and a magnificent staircase. The layout is a in a U-shape, which allows natural light to reach every room. The building currently has no water, sewer nor electrical service. It has an urgent need for repair to mortar & replace brick in the west exterior brick wall of the Hotel located at the NW corner of the rear façade. Time is working against the building. This building has not been occupied since the early 60's. The owner Mike McLaughlin, the Drexel Foundation, and community members saved it from the wrecking ball through collaborative efforts in the 1990's. The goal to restore its 50+ rooms to be occupied for a variety of uses is shared by the entire region. This shared vision of Heritage Tourism, and Economic Development with the return of this building to its former grandeur is a cornerstone of support for this endeavor.

The Drexel Foundation has been working for 20 years towards the goal of using a portion of the building for an art center, artist in residency space, and the former Malheur county law library. (books “saved” in 1996 now are in the hotel). Other uses planned are community driven and include offices, small business incubators, commercial spaces, public community gathering spaces, and a bread and breakfast. The Drexel Foundation has made much progress by grassroots fundraising and small grants. Since 1994 the owner, Drexel Foundation, grantgivers and local volunteers have made investments & performed considerable preservation resulting in huge gains to the Vale Hotel structural Stabilization, weatherization, and restoration of many rooms. At the Core of the Drexel

Foundation’s purpose for existing and mission is preservation of this building. The Foundation also supports, promotes and provides various Art & cultural Programs for youth and their families in the Western Treasure Valley. The Foundation is named after the building.

Implicit in the special designation of “Oregon’s Most Endangered Places” is Restore Oregon’s help with technical assistance in obtaining additional grant funds, and connections with preservationist. Drexel Foundation shall also be seeking financial assistance from Restore Oregon for match to the planned work for the west brick façade this spring 2017.

Drexel Foundation has worked vigorously to pursue various grant options, meet regionally with other community leaders on community building and economic development. “We are on a consistent path of funding and regional support. The Oregon Cultural Trust grant for the Architectural Study during 2015-2016 was a huge benchmark of our strategic plan. The momentum continues as we are proud to announce the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) Preserving Oregon Grant awarded us a 2016-2017 Grant for a portion of the funds needed for that repair to the West exterior brick wall. We have launched a Buy a Brick Campaign for funds needed to match the SHPO grant. Our goal is 500 bricks to be sold, each for a $50 donation. A special donor plaque will be placed next to the West repaired wall for all to see. We are also hoping that people remember that the Drexel Foundation is a 501 (c )(3) and think of us in their year- end giving and on #oregongives on November 29th. We are THANKFUL for all the local support we receive and have received since 1995 when we began our restoration and began our FREE art programs for families. ” Said Fuson.

Restore Oregon’s mission is to preserve and pass forward the historic places that make our communities livable and sustainable. They provide educational programs, technical assistance, and advocate for sound preservation policy and legislation. Although Restore Oregon office is located in Portland, they operate Statewide. “We are thankful for the support of Restore Oregon and their staff and believe though perseverance we shall continue to make headway. If you go on a tour you will hear me say we are saving these buildings for the children of the future. In the last 20 years I have seen the youth engage and embrace “a sense of place” while standing in the lobby. I remind them the Authentic Oregon Trail passes right in front of the hotel lobby. We teach the youth about the importance Vale had to pioneers of Oregon. Vale has a unique place in history. The hotel has a unique place in Vales history, too. It has held businesses such as; “Tony’s Barber Shop,” “Red Robin Café,” “U.S. Bank,” “Greyhound Bus Station” and at one point the city’s fire siren and cities water tower were located on top of the hotel. Last year the Middle School students paid one of the highest compliments to the vision of restoring this building, with giving us a Century Link Youth philanthropy grant to assist our efforts. ” said Fuson.

Photos of all of Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places are available online and a profile of each endangered place can be found at RestorOregon.org . 

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