Historic Restoration

National Register of Historic Places

Saved from the wrecking ball during 1990’s, these buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and a community treasure. The Drexel Foundation was originally created to help preserve the Historic 1908 Vale Hotel and 1895 Grand Opera House. The goal is to restore these important buildings for Vale’s future children.
The buildings are well on their way to becoming an “Art Center”, and “Artist in Residency” space. The upstairs of the Opera House is starting to look like the art center. Since 1995 roof repairs & structural stabilization has occurred for both buildings. Many rooms have been restored, the roof in-between the wings, and the new exterior door was added in the alley at the hotel. Restoration of the original 1895 tin ceiling and floor in the opera house is beautiful. Both the Opera House & Hotel’s exterior bricks underwent mortar repairs. All work on buildings are done in accordance with the national standards for historic preservation. ” Every year we take many steps forward, you can see it all coming together, with the great programs & volunteers and support. The Drexel Foundation is making a difference! You can check out the progress during our Open House, see calendar events for info. If you miss this chance to tour the buildings, there are private tours available by appointment. Some of the memories from local people are the best, such as “I delivered papers in the hotel when I was a kid” as told by Bill Cummings. The Drexel Foundation is always trying to learn more about the puzzle of these buildings, and always on a lookout for old interior photos of the buildings. Rehabilitation has been possible over the years from the owner, Mike McLaughlin’s personal labor & financial investments, the Drexel Foundation’s efforts, SHPO & OCT, and community grants. Local investment of labor, materials & volunteers have been used as a match for various grant assistance.
There is community support of our preservation project by hometown business owners, government representatives, past residents, and teachers. During 2020 they created the HGTV Application film to reach out for help with funding for our community. They support the Drexel H. Foundation’s efforts and are trying to help get the needed financial support for Historic Restoration projects, and to improve downtown Vale. See the video below of the HGTV video that they created.
The Grand Opera House has national and statewide significance. It contributes to understanding Eastern Oregon’s culture, Vale’s place in history, and is located on the authentic Oregon Trail. Its occupancy is vital to return life to our downtown core Main Street Vale. It represents a unique time period of the West, was a center of social activity. When the county went dry the former saloon became the Grand Opera House, brought entertainers from around the nation to this pioneer town, since the manager trained with the Barnum & Bailey Circus there was top-notch culture presented at this location. The Vale residents, young and old embrace the communities’ vision to create a Drexel art center and useable community event space in the Grand Opera House.

Since 1995 progress toward its occupancy has been made by grassroots fundraising, local volunteers, and small grants. This building used to have missing doors and missing walls and was designated as slum and blight. Considerable preservation efforts and restoration work on installing doors, windows, mason mortar repair, structural roof webbing, a new beam and wood for shear required by the engineer, initial electrical & initial plumbing work, architectural design for handicap bathrooms, in addition to restoring 1895 historical features, such as the press tin ceiling and original wood floors, building a column, exterior wall, stucco, new roof TPO, gutters, facia board, and building the front access to the second floor have all been accomplished. We are at the final stages of construction work to obtain a certificate of occupancy, thanks to grants and the investment of time and money of our entire community. See progress photo and hear the original song “Never give in” in the below video.