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Transom Window Exposure & Restoration Kickoff – Downtown Lebanon, Oregon

March 8, 2019

Written by Wyatt King, Duck Buddies LLC & Lebanon Downtown Association

My family dreamt up the idea of restoring of our downtown Lebanon property a few years back after discovering the original 1910 glass work behind the plywood boards put up generations ago. We didn’t know it was a prismatic glass transom window, or what all this would entail, but we figured it would be a challenge and cost a chunk of change. Now, because of the help of our partners, that dream is a reality. If your project is like ours, you can make it a reality by building partnerships, focusing on community, and having fun.

Before and after photos of transom window exposure project.

Lebanon, like many smaller communities, is one where involved people tend to know each other through overlapping groups or causes. These community connections are directly responsible for our beautifully restored transom. At the end of a meeting with our City Manager, Gary Marks, he mentioned his difficulty in getting any downtown properties to take advantage of Lebanon’s new Downtown Revitalization Program which covered the interest on loans for approved downtown projects. Seeing an opportunity to help our town and improve our property, we asked if the transom project was a good fit. It was! Within a month or so, we had the general plan in place (with bids) and an almost interest free loan.

We worked with the Lebanon Downtown Association (LDA) regarding Oregon’s Diamonds in the Rough grant. They agreed the transom project was a great fit and began helping us go after it. Thanks to LDA connections, we were soon in touch with Sheri, Kuri, and Joy from the State, who were wonderfully accessible and helpful- we never had a question go unanswered and every email was full of great points. Between the LDA and these wonderful ladies, we were able to get a finely tuned grant application rounded out by letters of support from community partners. Their help allowed us to have fun, working in puns on the grant (or the T.W.E.R.K. acronym for our project, Transom Window Exposure & Restoration Kickoff ). Our partners helped us every step of the way, and without them, our Transoms would still be boarded up. Thank you to our amazing partners!

Historic images of downtown Lebanon over time.

Does your heritage organization have a board handbook?

February 28, 2019

In our 2018 Survey of Digital Heritage Collections in Oregon, we asked survey takers what written plans and policies their organization has in place. Of the 178 organizations that responded to the survey, only 70 (that’s roughly 39%) affirmed that they have a board handbook.

Why have a board handbook?

Board handbooks are important tools for new and existing board members to quickly access legal, planning, operational, and personnel policies and documents for your organization. Handbooks can, and should be used to orient new board members to the organization, but they are also a useful reference tool for existing board members. Placing essential charters and documents in one place allows your organization to clearly explain where you’ve been and where you’re headed. This makes it much easier to set board member expectations and can be referred back to for quality control and to answer logistical questions that come up. Ultimately, a board handbook provides board members information upfront so they can make solid decisions moving forward.

What should be in a board handbook? (While contents may vary among organizations, here are some suggestions of what to include. )

  • Organization Mission Statement
  • List of Board Members- Names, addresses, short biographies
  • Board Member Job Description
  • By-laws
  • Organizational Chart
  • Committee List- with assignments of all board and staff members
  • Strategic Plan- including goals, objectives and committee work plans
  • Operating Policies of the Board
  • Confidentiality Statement
  • Conflict of Interest Statement
  • Short History of the Organization
  • Minutes- from the last year
  • Staff Job Descriptions- presented in brief outline form
  • List of Programs- with descriptive data
  • Budget
  • Audited Financial Statements- for the previous year
  • Marketing & Promotion Materials
  • Sources of Funding
  • Glossary of Terms

Board members need to know what their job is and how they can be most effective in doing that job, and a board handbook is one tool for nonprofit organizations to provide a solid orientation to board members. Join us for the 2019 Heritage Summit to dig deeply into the theory and practice behind great boards.

Conserving Artifacts at Benton County Historical Society

February 13, 2019

Benton County Historical Society is building a new, state-of-the-art museum in downtown Corvallis, Oregon.  The Corvallis Museum provides four galleries for exhibiting objects from the Society’s collection of over 100,000 artifacts.  Many of the artifacts need to be cleaned, stabilized and given supportive mounts before they can be moved from protective storage to public exhibitions. Thanks to generous matching Oregon Heritage Grant, BCHS was able to hire object conservator Tom Fuller to prepare artifacts for the first exhibitions in the Corvallis Museum.

Compact storage units house museum artifacts in a climate controlled storage facility.

Our primary concern is whether the artifacts are stable enough to endure the rigor of exhibition. Travel, handling, gravity and exposure to ultra-violet light can degrade an artifact. Occasionally Mr. Fuller has recommended that we don’t use a particular artifact in an exhibition due to condition issues. Other times he has been able to mitigate circumstances to allow the artifacts to be used. Sometimes, the objects simply needed a skilled cleaning.

Oregon Governor Douglas McKay’s western saddle is gleaming and ready for public exhibition thanks to Fuller’s meticulous care. This hand-tooled saddle with engraved silver work was made by Ed Bohlin, “saddle maker to the stars”, like Hollywood cowboys Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger.  Douglas McKay was an Oregon State University alumnus with a passion for the American West.

One of the more visually dramatic objects that Fuller conserved is the Zumwalt family trunk which came to Oregon via the Applegate Trail in 1846. While crossing the Cascade Range, the party was forced to leave this hide-covered trunk and other baggage behind.  Fortunately, it was still there when they returned for it in the spring of 1847. After 170 years in Oregon, the trunk received some long-overdue attention from a professional conservator.

Zumwalt family trunk before conservation.
Zumwalt family trunk after conservation.

This week Fuller is working wood grain auger with hand-carved paddles that Rowland Chambers carved for his water-powered grist mill on the Luckiamute River in Kings Valley in 1853.  Early pioneers planted wheat and built grist mills for grinding flour. The auger or screw conveyor moved grain continuously from one part of the mill to another.

We hope you’ll come see Fuller’s beautiful work when the Corvallis Museum construction and installation is complete, hopefully in autumn 2019.

Written by: Mark Tolonen, Curator of Exhibitions at Benton County Historical Society

Iron Fences Repair & Maintenance Plan at Salem Pioneer Cemetery

January 30, 2019

The Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries awarded a 2017 match-fund grant of $1,300 to the City of Salem Public Works Department for professional assessment of five historic cast-iron and two wrought-iron burial plot fences in Salem Pioneer Cemetery.  The cemetery, a property of seventeen acres founded by Chemeketa Lodge No. 1, Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1854, is a City landmark enrolled in the National Register of Historic Places.  It came under public ownership in 1986.  The grant allowed the City to engage an architectural conservator to prepare guidelines for repair and ongoing maintenance of the historic fences in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.      

The burial plot of the James I. Thompson family is enclosed by a common double-rail cast-iron “gas pipe” fencing having decorative railing sleeves at mid-section. Posts are mounted on a cut stone curb.

Historical architect Robert Dortignacq, A.I.A., of Portland, analyzed and proposed corrective treatment for each enclosure and contacted nine American foundries and iron companies experienced in restoration of architectural iron.  It was decided to produce the 22-page planning document as a resource, rather than a library-shelf report, so that it could be broadly available and updated as needed to guide cemetery stewards in putting work out to bid or placing certain work in the hands of experienced personnel supported by volunteers.  Cost estimates for rehabilitating each enclosure were incorporated also.

The Metal Craft Repair, Treatment and Maintenance Plan for Salem Pioneer Cemetery distills essential guidance for treatment of architectural iron work published by the National Park Service, Chicora Foundation, and Association for Gravestone Studies.  Plan drawings and photographs are included to illustrate the scale and provide general views of each enclosure as well as close-up details of such problems as gates separated from railings and posts that have lost their anchorage in masonry foundations.

The original Oregon manufacturer of the DeVol plot fence is no longer in operation. Cast-iron panels manufactured from the same historic pattern were located at the Lawler Machine & Foundary Co.

The consultant’s contact with foundries across the country showed that, occasionally, ironwork cast from historic patterns is still available through a supplier.  In Salem Pioneer Cemetery, panel sections were needed to fill gaps in one highly decorated cast-iron fence in the cemetery dating from the 1880s.  The consultant found matching panels were still in stock through the Lawler Machine & Foundry Co. in Birmingham, Alabama.  Custom casting required to authentically replicate missing ornamental features no longer in supply can add up to considerable expense.  Among his contacts, the consultant could not find a ready-made source for foliated and clasped-hands pipe rail section sleeves for commonplace gas-pipe fences.  Such ornaments often are found rusted-through and broken away in whole or in part.  Wrought iron is treated differently, but the fundamental rule in maintaining cast-iron fences in good repair is to keep all elements protected from exposure to water and air by careful preparation, protective coatings of primer and paint, and reapplying paint on a sound surface on a timely, recurring basis. 

Note:  Although Mr. Dortignacq’s Metal Craft Repair, Treatment and Maintenance Plan Project was completed on April 20, 2018, qualified personnel were not available to begin putting the plan into practice in the 2018 field season.  Implementation is expected to begin in March, 2019 under the joint supervision of the City’s contractor of record and an experienced metal craftsman as sub-contractor.

Written by: Elisabeth Potter, Friends of Pioneer Cemetery

Building Community Support

January 16, 2019

When the City of Canby re-instituted its Heritage and Landmark Commission after a decade of inactivity, commission members quickly realized that building community support for historic preservation was their greatest challenge. As a result, the group decided to make community outreach and involvement a significant element of all of their heritage initiatives.

Recognizing that heritage programming often attracts a limited portion of the community, HLC members looked for ways to reach a broader segment. The commission began with students. Collaborating with Canby’s Lee Elementary School, they included student council members as speakers at the induction of the Philander Lee Oak Tree into the Oregon Heritage Tree Program. When the nomination of the community’s 1937 City Hall required a public hearing, Commissioner Tony Crawford worked with teachers to create an opportunity for students to participate. Fourth graders wrote essays in support of the nomination and read them as part of the public testimony segment of the public hearing. The inclusion of students has the added benefit of attracting parents, grandparents, teachers and others to heritage events, many of whom might not otherwise attend.   

Another challenge for the commission was engaging Canby’s relatively large (22%) Latinx population. In 2017, the group decided that the first step involved eliminating the language barrier. They voted to produce all brochures and interpretive signage in English and Spanish to better connect with that group. With their 2018 project, Building a Better Community: The Canby Women’s Heritage – the first in Oregon dedicated to the accomplishments of women, they took that one step further. A city-wide student essay contest invited submissions in English and Spanish. The featured speakers at the public event, which was headlined by former Governor Barbara Roberts, included the reading of an essay in Spanish by a Canby student in which she recognized the sacrifices her mother made to ensure the success of her family.

Written by Carol Palmer, Canby Heritage and Landmark Commissioner

A Guide to Nonprofit Board Service

January 2, 2019

As Oregon Heritage gears up for our 2019 Heritage Summit on the Culture of Board Engagement, we reached out to the Oregon Department of Justice to learn more about their Guide to Nonprofit Board Service in Oregon.

nonprofit-board-serviceSusan Bower, Assistant Attorney General in the Charitable Activities Section of the DOJ, shared that over 21,000 charitable organizations are registered with the Oregon DOJ, and the majority of nonprofits in Oregon (68%) have less than $100,000 in annual revenue. While Oregon nonprofits vary in size, structure and mission, there are a number of principles that apply to all nonprofits. The Guide to Nonprofit Board Service in Oregon is a free resource to assist nonprofit board members in performing their roles as directors. Read our Q & A with Susan to learn more.

Q. What is the goal of the Guide to Nonprofit Board Service in Oregon?

A. The Department wants charitable organizations to be well-run so that they are successful and contribute to our society. The board is ultimately responsibility for managing charities. Through the Guide to Nonprofit Board Service in Oregon, the Department strives to educate boards about their roles, rights, and responsibilities so that they can implement good governance practices, understand and comply with applicable laws, and improve their chances of success.

Q. What is the role of the Attorney General’s Office in overseeing nonprofits in Oregon?

A. The Attorney General has broad supervisory rights and responsibilities over charities, charitable fiduciaries, and charitable assets. In general, the Attorney General’s role is to protect the public’s interest in charitable assets. There are numerous statutes specifically referencing her authority, such as the Charitable Trust and Corporation Act, ORS 128.610 – 128.759, Charitable Solicitation Act, ORS 128.801 to 128.898, but the underpinnings of her authority stem from long-established common law principles that the Attorney General is in the best position to protect the public’s interest in charities.

Q. Based on what comes through your office, what is the top piece of advice you would give a new nonprofit board member?

A. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many times new board members feel intimidated or embarrassed by their lack of knowledge and are reluctant to ask questions. But one of the fundamental principles of board governance is that board directors must actively participate in and make informed, even if not perfect, decisions. We find that many boards never undergo any formal board training and are often unaware of their various roles and responsibilities or are acting under misinformation. Ask for clarification of budgets, programs, and policies if they are not made clear or no information is given. Be sure you have reviewed your organization’s Articles and Bylaws and financial information. Become informed so that you can meaningfully participate in decisions.

Mark your calendar for the 2019 Heritage Summit “The Culture of Board Engagement” that will take place in Medford April 25-26, 2019. 

Springfield Museum’s CAP Experience

December 20, 2018

Written by: Madeline McGraw, Curator, Springfield Museum

Springfield Museum_opt

The Springfield Museum is housed in a substation built in 1911.

When I joined the Springfield Museum in May, I knew very little about the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program. I knew that it was created by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) through an agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and that it supports conservation assessments of museum collections and buildings. I also assumed that it would be a confusing, time-consuming program with little relevance to a small museum like the one I was now in charge of. What could a program like this offer us, other than more headaches?

CAP assessors ventured out onto the museum roof to check its condition.

Luckily for me, my predecessor had applied for entrance into the program as one of her final tasks, and the Springfield Museum was chosen to be part of the 2018 CAP class. Steering the Museum through the program would be my first duty as Curator!

I quickly learned that my earlier assumptions about the program were wrong. Often, programs and grants are tailored to larger institutions with big budgets and multiple staff members, and smaller museums end up struggling to remember why they applied in the first place. The CAP program is the opposite: while institutions of any size will benefit from joining, the program is specifically created for small and mid-sized institutions. CAP staffers were very understanding when we missed deadlines or had questions about paperwork, and helped us locate assessors who would work with our needs.

Here are some tips for navigating the CAP program as a small museum:

  • Don’t try to “tidy up” before your site visit. The assessors want to see your museum the way it is, grime and all! Your assessors are not visiting to shame you, but to help you find constructive solutions.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if an assessor has a suggestion that would be difficult for your institution to implement. A frank discussion could lead to a more manageable solution to the problem.
  • Use the CAP program as a way to talk to your community about your museum’s conservation needs-you might find local support for implementing the assessor’s findings.

Six months later, the Springfield Museum now has a professional report filled with priorities that we can take to our City Council and use as evidence in grant applications, and two assessors that we can turn to when we  have concerns. No headaches here!

*The Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program provides small and mid-sized museums with partial funding toward a general conservation assessment. The assessment is a study of all of the institution’s collections, buildings, and building systems, as well as its policies and procedures relating to collections care. Participants who complete the program receive an assessment report with prioritized recommendations to improve collections care. CAP is often a first step for small institutions that wish to improve the condition of their collections.

Colorful Coburg

December 6, 2018

Coburg-Coloring-Book-front cover reducedCoburg, Oregon continues to hold its place in the heart of the South Willamette Valley despite its proximity to the Eugene area. In large part this can be attributed to its small-town appeal including Coburg’s National Historic District of vintage style homes with architecture dating back to the 1800s. Coburg’s agrarian flair has been established through cultivated connections to surrounding farming communities, long stretches of country roads and backdrop of the Coburg Hills. The well -preserved homes of varying styles include cottages, barns and bungalows which recall over 150 years of Coburg history. Coburg residents’ value their small-town charm and are fervent to sustain preservation of these assets. During 2017 the community completed its Visioning project with Rural Development Initiatives identifying historic character as a substantial priority to retain and build upon in the years to come.

Coburg’s Heritage Committee continues to play an important role in advancing projects that aim to inspire community involvement.  One such project was Coburg Community Historic Art Contest which culminated in Coburg’s first Art Show this past May. The art show displayed depictions of historic structures in Coburg as a means to spotlight local artists and historic buildings. Other projects including an updated Historic Walking Tour Brochure and Colorful Coburg Coloring Book. The Colorful Coburg Coloring book printed through 2018 Certified Local Government (CLG) Grant funds includes depictions of historic homes and architecture included in our Coburg Historic Walking Tour Brochure. Through a partnership with local business owner and active community member Terry Dawson, the Coburg Coloring Book was reproduced from a previous edition dating back to the 1980s.  The Coloring Book will be available throughout the holiday season to engage more youth interest in historic preservation. Through these projects, we wish to promote creative expression for future generations as we maintain and enrich ties to our past.

Written by: Emma Vallillo, Community Development Project Manager, RARE AmeriCorps Member for City of Coburg

Annual Reports: To Do or Not to Do?

November 15, 2018

Does your organization do an annual report? There are many reasons to do an annual report and also many ways to do it. The important thing is to know why you are doing it because it does take time and effort so it should be something that is strategically leveraged among your stakeholder groups and put to good use.

Some of the reasons to do an annual report include:

  • Shows the impact your organization has in a community
  • Makes the case for donations
  • Thanks staff, volunteers, members, supporters, and partners
  • Highlights the annual accomplishments in one place
  • Serves as a good communication tool when advocating for your organization in the community and with local, county, and state elected officials (see the Cultural Advocacy Coalition for more information on advocacy)
  • Emphasizes transparency of your organization and builds trust with the community you serve

Some of the information to consider including in your annual report:

  • Mission Statement and any organization vision statement
  • Goals achieved and steps taken to achieve them
  • A letter from the Director or Board President
  • A list of board members and staff
  • A list of members
  • Visitor numbers and various levels of breaking that information down such as geographic reach

  • Financial information such as a breakdown of how money was spent and the different types of revenue that was generated
  • Highlight a successful project and/or partnership
  • Highlight 2-5 accomplishments
  • Include any awards the organization received
  • Feature a volunteer of the year
  • Tell the story of a community member’s engagement with the organization
  • Number of volunteers and total number of volunteer hours

There are a variety of ways to do an annual report depending on time, money, technology, and capacity of the organization. Here are some formats organizations can use to report to stakeholders the accomplishments of the organization:

For more information, check out these resources:

If your organization does an annual report, feel free to tell us about it in the comments and include a link if it is available online so others can check it out!

An Ounce of Prevention…

November 8, 2018

Written by Anna Goodwin, Collections Manager at Maryhill Museum of Art

Maryhill fire image

Milepost 90 Fire near Maryhill Museum of Art in the Columbia River Gorge, 2018

Every museum should have an up-to-date emergency preparedness plan. The importance of this is especially relevant given the recent museum fire close to home in Aberdeen, Washington, as well as abroad at the National Museum of Brazil. Here at Maryhill Museum of Art, we recently revisited our plan and made some significant changes.

Working with a risk assessor, we determined that our plan was cumbersome and lacking critical information for managing human assets during a crisis. This led us to create a new document which we named our Emergencies Resource Guide. This guide is a concise, easily accessible book that personnel use to familiarize themselves with our procedures in advance, and draw upon quickly in an emergency situation. It is laminated and bound, and has tabs for each emergency.



From the beginning, it was clear that having a fresh, outside perspective was critical. Previously, our plan focused heavily on our collections, and less on staff and visitors. We also needed to add several new emergency procedures, including: Lost Child/Parent, Lock Down/Out, Active Shooter, and Armed Person. This whole process involved a multitude of revisions among key staff, and a review with our regular emergency duty officers. We also sent the plan to our local Sheriff’s office for feedback. Once a final draft was compiled, we presented it to our staff at the annual orientation.

We learned several lessons during this process.  Most importantly, a plan should be something that will be carried out by the assigned staff. If the procedure is unrealistic or if a staff person is uncomfortable with performing the duties, adjustments must be made. It is also essential to review the plan regularly. Our plan had not been updated in almost ten years when we revised it in 2015, and we still had many more changes with the latest iteration. Another critical detail is to ensure that all of the equipment needed is accessible, such as flashlights and clean-up kits.

Ultimately, this process allowed us to examine closely our procedures for addressing emergencies. By doing so, we were better able to equip our staff to respond in an emergency situation, and feel confident in that. Though we cannot predict when a crisis may occur or what the conditions will be, having a plan sets an institution up for timely and effective management of a situation. And it provides invaluable peace of mind, so we can continue to protect our most valued cultural treasures.