Negotiations between the City of Creswell and the Creswell Heritage Foundation (CHF) have resulted in an agreement to transfer ownership of the Upper Willamette Valley town’s oldest structure to the recently-formed non-profit. An ambitious five-year plan proposed by CHF would see incremental fundraising and construction project which would complete the building’s rehabilitation in time to participate in the region’s hosting of the World Track and Field Championships scheduled for Eugene in 2021. While the Foundation had requested that the city retain ownership of the structure, in December the Creswell City Council decided to surplus the schoolhouse and transfer ownership to CHF. In recognition of the immediate and ongoing financial obligations that such a transfer would impose on the small nonprofit, the city will also grant CHF $55,000. Procedural details of the property transfer and donation are scheduled to be finalized by the Creswell City Council at their February 12th meeting.
This exciting news caps an impressive year of accomplishments for the Creswell Heritage Foundation which formed in late 2016 to address community concerns stemming from the proposed surplus of the city’s only National-Register listed site. Restore Oregon testified at a City Council hearing that November to advise against a hasty decision regarding the fate of the historic structure. This testimony and the passionate advocacy of the Creswell community resulted in a city decision to delay action while allowing the investigation of CHF into potential costs and uses for the building. Restore Oregon staff has since met with foundation volunteers on three occasions to offer advice and encouragement as they worked to address the city’s questions.
In less than a year, this determined band of volunteers has worked tirelessly to gain formal recognition as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating as the Creswell Heritage Foundation, solicit successful grant applications with funding awards of over $17,000, strategize local fundraising efforts to engage the community and generate revenue, and publicize their efforts in several local and county-wide media outlets. Funding from grants and individuals allowed CHF to hire preservation architect Susan Licht to evaluate the structural needs of the schoolhouse in a Conditional Assessment and Stabilization Plan. Licht’s study, completed in November, will be used to prioritize future funding requests and rehabilitation efforts.
The efforts and achievements of this all-volunteer organization during the past year on behalf of the Creswell Old Schoolhouse have been nothing short of extraordinary. We look forward to seeing what the Creswell Heritage Foundation will accomplish in 2018.