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Heritage Tourism Success One Year Later

May 19, 2017

By Sarah LeCompte

Heritage tourism workshops held in eastern Oregon in spring of 2016 paved the way for a stellar year of visitation, with many heritage and cultural sites reporting visitation increases up to 15-20%.

Some of our staff at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center joined a work shop in John Day. If nothing else had happened, meeting staff and volunteers from other sites started a networking and awareness effort that is key to success in developing regional heritage tourism. What is going on, what does each site have to offer, and who to contact for more information provides the nuts and bolts that help answer visitors questions and interest them in staying in the region and visiting other sites. Participants worked together on developing itineraries, and figuring out travel times, visit times, visitor interests and budgets to attract visitors to try something new and different. Looking for opportunities to collaborate and cross market to build new audiences, they learned about the need to start connecting heritage attractions with other activities that might not seem compatible at first glance. Museum and brew pub? Historic sites and street fairs and bicycle rentals? Art gallery to museum to fishing spot?   It’s easy to get focused on promoting our own area of interest, and forgetting that most humans generally have more than one favorite past-time, and want a travel and vacation experience to match their unique set of interests. Workshop participants learned to think beyond traditional marketing profiles of “heritage” tourists, and realize that anyone of any age, economic bracket, and cultural background is probably a heritage tourist in waiting. Experience is a common word in tourism today. And authenticity. Both concepts that fit well with heritage attractions, and workshop participants considered the idea of marketing an experience rather than a tangible “thing”. And, perhaps particular to the slower pace and friendly attitude of eastern Oregon, that a personal first-person approach can have a huge impact. Word of mouth from an authentic “local” expert is almost always the most effective way to help a tourist feel comfortable finding that great cultural treasure down the street or in the next town down the road.

Our staff came back inspired with new ideas, and lots of information to share with visitors over the information desk throughout the summer. If a Heritage Tourism Workshop comes to your area this spring, it is time well spent to meet your tourism neighbors and start knitting together the great experiences for heritage tourists coming your way.

Spring 2017 Heritage Tourism Workshops
Succeeding with Heritage Tourism: Market Information, resources, and Ideas for Attracting More Visitors through Creative Collaboration

Ontario – June 7, 8:30-12:30, Four Rivers Cultural Center
Roseburg – June 15, 8:30-12:30, Jasmine’s Events Center
Preliminary Agenda
Register

 

Oregon Main Street Highlight – Astoria

May 11, 2017

This post is part of a series celebrating Oregon Main Street’s ten years of downtown revitalization. Throughout the year we will be highlighting some of our Main Street network communities and the great work they are doing. You can learn more about Oregon Main Street here. Main Street efforts in Astoria are being carried out by Astoria Downtown Historic District Association and here is a snapshot into the work they are doing.

Collaboration and Craft Brewing Enliven a Once Abandoned Streetscape

Astoria has been rebuilding since the great fire of 1922. In our lifetimes, the transformation began in the late 90’s and took off in earnest about 2010.

Commercial Street and Marine Drive, long the major thoroughfares, are bustling centers of activities in good weather. Now, the work on the Duane Street corridor is being undertaken by enterprising individuals and non-profits alike.

The catalyst for the redevelopment of Duane Street is Astoria Station, the dream of the late Warren Williams Warren, owner of the Astoria Station building sitting at the unconventional intersection of 13th Street, between Duane and Exchange. It should be noted that 13th Street doesn’t exist on our main streets, but appears off the thoroughfare, due to a dispute amongst our earliest city planners.

Originally an auto-repair shop and later an illegal marijuana operation, a new vision was needed for this site and Warren knew just the thing for Astoria’s new economy. Mr. Williams dreamt of a multi-use space promoting craft brewing, local food, and areas for Astorians to come together to enjoy it all.

Now, after years of planning, Astoria Station is the proud home of Reach Break Brewing, Sasquatch Sausage, and The Hot Box BBQ. A micro-cidery, additional food cart, and barbershop are also in the works. Today, wine barrels for drinks and custom picnic tables for food and gathering are loosely pulled together with nautical ropes. On sunny days the garage doors at Reach Break roll up and folks spill into the light, meeting friends and neighbors. On a recent Saturday I spied a historic home rehab specialist, a local café owner, our community college president, and several Thai exchange students all gathered together enjoying artisan sausage, craft brewed beer, and our notoriously fickle sun on a Saturday afternoon.

Come see what’s new in Astoria!

Astoria recently received two grants for Main Street improvement projects. To learn more about the Main Street Revitalization Grant and those that received awards, visit here.

An Example of Usefulness of Digital Condition Reports

May 8, 2017

By Heidi Dawn, 2016 recipient of the Elisabeth Walton Potter Oregon Heritage Preservation Training Scholarship to participate in a summer internship in the Conservation Department at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

Condition reports usually consist of text documents describing the general condition of an item held in a collection, and contain a diagram, drawing, or photograph of the piece with marks that highlight any damage or wear. They are essential for pieces that are part of a traveling exhibit, and they become part of the record and history of a piece. Using digital condition reports is an easy way to improve the accuracy and visual quality of condition reports. As software becomes more intuitive and accessible, creating and updating digital condition reports becomes the best choice for record keeping. Digital records can also be shared with many people simultaneously, directors, curators, registrars, and conservators at the same time without loss of image quality.

The Conservation Department at the Fowler Museum at UCLA has developed a simple and effective work flow for newly accessioned pieces that includes digital condition reports efficiently created from templates. The templates were created in Word and Photoshop. After templates are made, the process is simple. Images are set into the template and then brightly colored lines can be digitally drawn onto the image to note damage, imperfections, or wear. These lines can easily be hidden within the application to see the unmarked image of the object, in excellent quality, for close digital inspection. The accompanying image shows a digital condition report with imperfections noted.

Heidi Dawn internship

Yao basket, held in the Fowler collections.

The Fowler’s Conservation Department work flow is a checklist dictating a smooth process from creating a digital folder, moving to photographing the object, then completing the text condition report, and finally popping photographs of the object into the image templates. If no conservation treatments are needed, the digital record is complete.

This smooth process was shown to me during an internship in the Conservation Department at the Fowler Museum under conservator Christian de Brer. I entered the internship with a goal of learning efficient documentation of ethnographic objects. I am grateful for the excellent training by Mr. de Brer, in condition reporting and photographing ethnographic objects. My internship was supported by a generous Elisabeth Walton Potter Oregon Heritage Preservation Scholarship. The ability to travel to experts in the field of conservation for training in skills that I will implement in my work with Oregon’s cultural heritage is invaluable to me as a student of conservation.

The deadline for the next round of the EWP Oregon Heritage Preservation Training Scholarship is June 2, 2017. Be sure to submit an application if you would like to attend a workshop, training, or conference that would help you better preserve your community’s heritage.

Summit on Funding Call to Action

May 1, 2017

The first-ever Oregon Heritage Summit brought together over one hundred people representing museums, Main Street organizations, preservation groups, and a variety of other areas to discuss funding solutions for heritage work.

Pages from Funding ReportThe event kicked off with a presentation of the National Survey of Heritage Funding and Incentive Programs: Opportunities for Oregon. This study, commissioned by the Oregon Heritage Commission, was designed to explore methods of funding and encourage heritage organizations to work together for shared funding. One highlight from the study was the Oregon Cultural Trust, a unique model in the country and something already in place to fund heritage, humanities, and the arts. Presentations about tourism tax, levy, tax credit funding, along with the Oregon Cultural Trust provided a deeper look at these funding mechanisms.

Discussion following the presentations was designed to encourage people to step back from the focus on their organization and explore solutions to funding all heritage work on a regional or statewide basis. Participants selected the most likely methods of funding to work toward to establish stronger funding for heritage projects. The top two methods that were discussed were the Oregon Cultural Trust and heritage districts.

Next steps to enhance heritage funding with the Oregon Cultural Trust.

  • Increase funding to the Oregon Cultural Trust. Nearly half of the cultural nonprofits registered with the Trust are heritage related. If each of those over 700 nonprofits got 10 of their $100 donors to match that donation to the Trust (and get that back as a tax credit), it would match the amount available for the County and Tribal Coalition Grants last year! That is double the potential funding for heritage work at the local level.
  • Apply for grants. Only about 20% of statewide and coalition grants were awarded to heritage projects. The coalition grants are a great way to start grant funding for organizations that have never tried.
  • Support the continuation of the Oregon Cultural Trust. The tax credit program will be up for renewal with the legislature in 2019. Be sure to let your members, the community and elected officials when you are supported by the Trust.
  • Get involved. Attend an Oregon Cultural Trust board meeting and ask to be on the agenda to share your work. Serve on the County and Tribal Coalition boards. Help local people doing heritage work access these local funds.

Next steps to explore heritage districts.

  • Connect with other heritage organizations in your area. Start building relationships with those organizations that could benefit from a district. Strong, trusting relationships are a must!
  • Start building public will. Work must start now to help the public appreciate the value of heritage and what the organizations offer.
  • Communicate with elected officials. A heritage district needs the support of elected officials at the local, county and state levels. Always invite them to events and include them on your newsletter lists.

Other topics discussed included tourism tax and marijuana tax funds among others. Two crucial points arose from the discussion of the day.

  • Partnerships are vital to the success of heritage organizations. We should be collaborating with each other and other community organizations for the benefit of our communities and organizations.
  • Communication should be a priority. In order for people to understand the value of your work, they need to know about it. Be creative and broad in your communication.

Quick, run to your social media tool, email list, or newsletter and share a recent success with your followers!

This valuable discussion will continue with the Oregon Heritage Commission and through the 2018 Oregon Heritage Conference. We hope you will carry on the conversation and take action in your area too!

Oregon Main Street Highlight – West Linn

April 14, 2017

This post is part of a series celebrating Oregon Main Street’s ten years of downtown revitalization. Throughout the year we will be highlighting some of our Main Street network communities and the great work they are doing. You can learn more about Oregon Main Street here. Main Street efforts in West Linn are being carried out by Historic Willamette and here is a snapshot into the work they are doing.

historic willametteHistoric Willamette Main Street’s mission is to celebrate and preserve the rich history and natural beauty of the area, invest in the heart of our downtown, and create a community where local residents and visitors can dine, shop, and connect with others. Our most recent rebranding efforts really get to the heart of West Linn’s Main Street: “Where Rivers and People Meet”.

A project that our Design Committee has been hard at work on is the Master Plan for our streetscape along Willamette falls Drive. We have strong partnerships with City Staff, the local neighborhood association, Council, and Mt. Hood Territories as we work together towards an overall plan developing the waterfront from the Arch Bridge to our Historic District. We are not only preparing for the future growth of the area, but addressing our current needs; from additional parking, cycle tracks, increased seating, and much needed ADA compliance.

We have also been strategizing on ways to fill empty storefronts and have found success with the pop-up store strategy. We had one of our last, long-standing retail shops close its doors and it left our Main Street with quite a large vacancy that was in need of some maintenance. The holiday season was upon us and we kept asking ourselves “How do we keep these folks in our neighborhood and support local shops and restaurants with very little in the way of holiday gift shopping options?” We had discussed the idea of pop-ups previously, and realized this was a great opportunity. With the partnership of the property owner, we reached out to our farmer’s market vendors and nearby vintage shop to fill the space for an entire weekend, relying heavily of foot traffic from an annual holiday parade, social media, and posters throughout the town. One of our vendors did so well she considered quitting her day job! Within a week we had a call from someone who had been through the pop-up looking for space in the Portland area. She, in turn, did her own pop-up for a month to see if she could manage both her Washington and Oregon shops. Meanwhile, more interested shop keepers visited this latest pop-up venture and were ready to make the commitment. They are currently negotiating with the landlord for improvements. Success!  And the gal who hosted her own pop-up venture? She is looking in the area as she stocks up for her future location with us.

2017 has been an amazing year for Historic Willamette Main Street in West Linn and we are proud to say, with the continued support of our volunteers and community, it is really happening in Historic Willamette. Come visit us on Wednesdays starting May 31st for Wednesday’s in Willamette Summer Market!

 

Oregon Main Street Highlight – Bandon

March 31, 2017

This post is part of a series celebrating Oregon Main Street’s ten years of downtown revitalization. Throughout the year we will be highlighting some of our Main Street network communities and the great work they are doing. You can learn more about Oregon Main Street here. Main Street efforts in Bandon are being carried out by the Greater Bandon Association and here is a snapshot into the work they are doing.

Exterior Sign_GEJust a few short weekends ago, Bandon’s gorse plants were in full bloom. Vibrant yellow swaths of this despised, prickly plant cover a huge part of Bandon. Gorse is an invasive, highly flammable, painful and difficult to remove plant. We don’t like it. We might even say we HATE it. But, we decided to celebrate it. We’re using our lemons, and making REALLY good lemonade.

It all started when a Greater Bandon Association board member had a grand idea for an off-season festival. It took about two years and a ton of volunteer effort to bring her dreams to reality. Greater Bandon Association and the Chamber of Commerce provided seed money to make the event possible. The Gorse Blossom Festival celebr(hated) gorse with a historical display of gorse and the fires it has caused (courtesy of the historical museum), a life-size dart board of Lord Bennett (the founder of Bandon and bringer of gorse), and displays from our local Gorse Action Group and Go Native! project.

But, the real purpose of this festival was to celebrate seafood, beer, and wine from all over Oregon and bring visitors to our charming coastal town in the dark, wet, cold days of February. We packed our motels, restaurants and shops, served up some great entertainment, and had a magical three-day festival full of fun!

Glasses_GEThe event was hosted inside our old fisheries plant building on the Bayfront, a Port of Bandon property. The inside was transformed into a festival paradise with giant remote-controlled fish swimming around the ceiling, twinkle lights draped from end to end, and forty beer, wine, and seafood vendors, all with the backdrop of local musicians and the South Coast Film Festival. Our nights ended with entertainment. Fire dancers one night, a Presidential pub crawl another, and on Sunday, an early morning Bloody Mary stroll where participants collected 20 garnishes from Old Town businesses before entering the festival for the final, and most critical, ingredient. We also hosted brewmaker and winemaker dinners in our downtown restaurants in the evenings. We sure had one heck of a good time!

We’re lucky to live in a place with such a vibrant history, funky culture, and willingness to try new things. Without the innovation of our brilliant board members, this event would not have succeeded. It was the quirky, “outside the box” thinking that made this event so special and the more bizarre our ideas got, the more popular the event became! The goal was to get visitors to our town and into our businesses during the off-season and we certainly accomplished that goal in a fun and inventive way. If you want to learn more about the Gorse Blossom Festival, please visit the website at www.gorseblossomfest.com!

Oregon Main Street Celebrates Ten Years of Downtown Revitalization!

March 24, 2017

PeoplePano

This year Oregon Main Street (OMS) turns ten and it’s a time for us to reflect on what the Oregon Main Street Network has accomplished in the past ten years. Turns out, it is A LOT!

A little background on OMS: Oregon Main Street was re-established in Oregon ten years ago in order to help communities stimulate downtown revitalization while preserving its historic character. It does this by using the successful Main Street® methodology developed by the National Main Street Center as its foundation for assistance. This approach emphasizes four critical areas of revitalization: organization helps everyone work towards the same goals and maximizes involvement of public and private leaders within the community; promotion brings people back downtown by helping to attract visitors, shoppers, and investors; design enhances a district’s appearance and pedestrian amenities while preserving its historic features; and economic vitality stimulates business development and helps strengthen the district’s economic base.

Today the Oregon Main Street Network includes 80 Oregon communities and is organized in a tier system ranging from full steam ahead Performing Main Streets, such as Oregon City and McMinnville, to those who want to investigate the approach and whether it will work for them and their community. Not only can you see for yourself which communities are in the Oregon Main Street Network by visiting the OMS tier list, but in the next year you will hear from some of the Main Street communities themselves.

Periodically over the course of the year some of the Oregon Main Street communities will be giving us a glimpse into the work of their Main Street efforts and the results that have transpired. If you are the type that responds to statistics, we have those too! The following data has been gathered from our top two tiers of Main Street communities since 2010/2011:

  • $75,740,994 in private investment in downtowns
  • $91,222,600 in public reinvestment in downtowns
  • 1,082 building rehabs
  • A net business gain of 561
  • A net job gain of 2,699
  • 175,965 volunteer hours which equates to $3,748,527 in volunteer time

You can see more data and profiles of the Oregon Main Street communities by checking out the 2016 Annual Report.

As these Oregon Main Street highlights pop up throughout the year, we encourage visitors to Oregon Heritage Exchange to comment on whether they have been to that community’s downtown and what they enjoyed the most.

Here’s to another 10 years and beyond!

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Bend’s Sense of Place

March 2, 2017

Bend is the most recent community to be designated as an Oregon Heritage All-Star Community by the Oregon Heritage Commission. The Oregon Heritage All-Star program is a way to recognize communities that make the most of their heritage resources.

bend-blog

What makes an historic place or building special? Why is it so important to preserve a particular town tradition such as the 4th of July Pet Parade or renovate an abandoned building? As I listen to people’s memorable stories about the Kenwood School gym that collapsed during severe weather storms in January, I think of the many places and community events that make Bend the special place that it is today. These many stories inspire people to continue to support our community in more ways than I think could have ever been imagined.

bend-blog2In Bend, the Tower Theater and Boys and Girls Club building renovations are two examples of strong community efforts that gave historic spaces new life and relevance for our community. There are all the fascinating stories surrounding Bend’s Nordic ski history on display during the Winter Comes Exhibit at the Deschutes Historical Museum in 2016. I also think of the recorded voices from 1953 of some of Bend’s early pioneers in the “15 Minute Histories” series made available through the Deschutes Public Library, talking about how difficult it was to travel between Bend and Prineville before cars were available in Bend. These many stories in part helped to inspire the recent restoration of Bend’s first vehicle, the 1907 Holsman.

It is this pride in community heritage that inspires so many people to support the many ongoing historic preservation activities in Bend. The Deschutes Historical Museum, City of Bend and Deschutes Public Library staff all came together to submit the application for the Oregon All-Star Heritage Community Award as a thank you to all the members of Bend who work towards a common goal of keeping Bend’s history alive and important to today. Thank you for recognizing all of our efforts and presenting Bend with Oregon’s 7th All-Star Heritage Community award. Bend is especially excited to be the first community on the eastern side of the mountains to receive this award.

Bend joins Albany, Astoria, Cottage Grove, Oregon City, Roseburg, and Salem on the list of Oregon Heritage All-Star Communities.

 

 

 

Revitalize Ontario! Successfully Navigates the Grant Process

January 19, 2017

By Charlotte Fugate, President of Revitalize Ontario!, an Oregon Main Street network community and recipient of a 2016 Oregon Heritage Diamonds in the Rough Grant

Ontario is a small rural community of about 11,500 and we rely on agriculture for our main industry. We border the Snake River and Idaho and we are on the far eastern side of the state. The town was platted in 1883 just after the railroad came to Oregon. Two years ago we organized a grass root group, Revitalize Ontario!, to develop and promote a healthy prosperous downtown within the context of cultural and historic preservation. To this end we started working with Oregon’s Main Street Program.

After setting our boundaries and phases, we formally joined Main Street as an “Exploring Downtown” member. We identified a cluster of large buildings in the core of our old town, two were in good shape, the third not so much. We selected the “not so much” building, the Lackey Building, to revive because it would have the biggest impact in enhancing our

before-competition

The Lackey Building before the facade improvement.

historical downtown. We leveraged three different grants, including Oregon Heritage’s Diamonds in the Rough Grant, to take the building back to 1967 (although the Lackey Building was built in 1906). We couldn’t afford to take it back any further but felt we would preserve the building for future generations and the bones would be visible once again.

The grant application was relatively easy to fill out. I would suggest that you review what information is required before tackling the process and try to gather as much of the information as possible before starting.   Kuri Gill, the Grant and Outreach Coordinator, was always available and walked us through the process. When our application was completed, Sheri Stuart, the Oregon Main Street Coordinator, reviewed our application and made a few suggestions that made our efforts more cohesive. The most difficult part was gathering old photos to show examples of our goals. Fortunately, a business that occupied the building in 1967 had an extensive photo album which they shared with us. We waited with great anticipation for the grant committee to review our application, then came the announcement… we were selected!

In the next few weeks we awarded the bids, set the construction schedule, and had a meeting with the major contractors and volunteers. We didn’t get off to a very good start since the volunteer who was going to demolition all the faux shingles and faux brick decided that he needed to be paid. We figured we could make that up with having volunteers do some of the paid tasks. We had to borrow $10,000 from the bank to cover one of the contractor’s bills, since they wanted to be paid when their work was complete. We had a visit near the project’s completion from Oregon Heritage’s Restoration Specialist, Joy Sears, to see our finished project and she was very pleased.

downtown-after

Downtown Ontario after the work was completed on the Lackey Building (right).

We completed our façade grant in four months (coming in under budget) and sent in our final report along with copies of invoices, receiving a reimbursement check within three weeks. I can’t praise the Oregon Heritage grant staff enough. They were helpful, encouraging, conscientious and really cared about our mission. A great group to work with! As for the Ontario community, we get accolades every day for the beautiful building and the improvements to the downtown. We have had several more downtown businesses take applications for city facade grants and have had one building owner inquire about the process to get their building on the National Historical Register. We are on our way!

Oregon Heritage has 5 grants currently open for applications, including a new grant only available to communities in the Oregon Main Street network. For more information visit here. There are several free upcoming grant workshops available across the state. Visit the calendar to find one near you. You can also contact Kuri Gill, Grants and Outreach Coordinator, at Kuri.Gill@oregon.gov or (503) 986-0685.

Organizing Your Museum: Highlights from the 2016 Western Museums Association Annual Conference

January 5, 2017

By Kathleen Daly

With the beginning of the new year, it’s a good time to begin to plan some cleaning and organization goals. This year’s Western Museums Association (WMA) Annual Conference provided a lot of great information to help with this very thing.

gloves_0437One useful tip gleaned from Find/Create/Organize: An Archive for a Small Museum, was a simple “how-to” for removing photographs from old, adhesive-based (sticky) photo albums. If you have ever attempted this, you know how dangerous and scary this can be. According to the presenters, try using unwaxed, unflavored dental floss to carefully tease the photo off the sheet. This method may not always work, so remember to work slowly and cautiously. If there is any indication of damage to the object, stop.

This session also provided a valuable outline for how to organize an archives collection. (Note: although specifically for archives, the same steps can help you through most collections organization projects.) First, define your collection. This may be done by following your collections management policy, or through a clear definition of the project at hand. Secondly, identify what is actually yours. Do you have paperwork to match up to the objects/material? Was ownership clearly transferred? Next, determine where your centralized collections space will be. In other words, where are these things going to be stored when the project is complete? It is important to prepare this space so that as soon as pieces have been processed, they can be put away. Before starting, identify your resources. This could be the National Park Service, Connecting to Collections, another, or, since we are so lucky to have this option available in Oregon, MentorCorps. (Remember, MentorCorps utilizes trained museum, library and preservation professionals from throughout the state to assist with a number of institutional needs. Plus, it is FREE!) Then lastly, begin your inventory and rehousing project.

Again:                                                      Kam Wa Chang Heritage Program Grant 2011 Processing Archives.JPG

  1. Define the collection.
  2. Identify what is “yours”.
  3. Create a centralized space for collections.
  4. Identify resources (MentorCorps, Connecting to Collections, Oregon Museums Association, Canadian Conservation Institute, the National Park Service, etc.).
  5. Inventory and rehouse.

Whatever project you decide to undertake, be realistic about your outcomes, expectations and goals. And, as I always say, do what is within your means! You are not expected to know everything, nor can you. Focus on a strategy and do what works best for you. Also, think outside of the box. Perhaps a local university can use you as a project for one of their preservation programs. Or, maybe there is a local venue willing to share display space (to help market your facility) or temporary storage space?

If questions, frustration or obstacles occur during upcoming projects, remember to take a step back to re-focus on the task at hand. It is all too easy to become overwhelmed or find yourself in the weeds. You are only one person and can only do so much. Remember this. Most importantly, there is a community of individuals (museum professionals or not) who are ready and able to help.

Kathleen Daly received Oregon Heritage’s Elisabeth Walton Potter Heritage Preservation Training Scholarship to attend the 2016 Western Museums Association Annual Conference. This scholarship provides financial assistance for Oregon residents to attend a preservation-related conference, workshop, or training in the United States. Eligible travel expenses include registration fees, transportation, lodging, and meals. Scholarships are offered to those actively involved in local preservation efforts and who demonstrate how attendance at a preservation-related conference, workshop, or training will help meet the preservation needs of their local community. Scholarships are competitive and offered twice per year.