Grant sought for proposed arts campus at Vancouver Barracks

Donations needed for match; former Post hospital would be converted

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Supporters of a proposed arts campus in Vancouver’s historic core have sent out a call for donations, eyeing a grant that could help get the project rolling.

The Fort Vancouver National Trust is working to convert the former Vancouver Barracks’ Post Hospital into a center for arts and education. Trust officials said Thursday that they have an opportunity to get a $55,000 challenge grant from the city if they raise a matching $55,000 in private support.

The emailed call for donations was signed by Val Ogden. She is not part of the Post Hospital renovation team; but as a leader in the campaign for a performing arts center, Ogden is definitely an ally.

“We see that collaboration in our self-interest,” Ogden said.

Officials of the nonprofit Fort Vancouver National Trust are seeking the donations through Wednesday. Development Director Alishia Topper said the grant money would help turn public input, collected a year ago, into Phase 1 of the project.

“It’s the next big step,” Topper said.

That would include defining the scope of work, evaluating the building’s structural issues and assessing historical features that would have a bearing on future uses.

The trust also is thinking about future phases, Topper said. In Phase 2, community members and groups would come together to generate project concepts.

In Phase 3, up to three design concepts would be evaluated. That process would include the National Park Service and historic preservation authorities. Eventually, a preferred concept would be identified, along with its price range.

Ogden said the people working for a performing arts center are supporting the Post Hospital project because they might be among its tenants. They are negotiating for a nearby building as the home of their performing arts center. The Post Hospital building would provide space for their offices and other non-performance functions.

“Having them all together so they can support each other has a synergistic effect,” Ogden said.

The hospital building has 29,000 square feet of usable space distributed over three floors and a basement. Built in 1904 and 1905, the Post Hospital was a state-of-the-art medical center and did a 90-year hitch on active duty. The hospital ended its military career as office space for the U.S. Army and has been vacant since the mid-1990s.

The Post Hospital project is not connected to the East and South Barracks’ transition to the National Park Service. The hospital is part of the West Barracks, which has already been transferred to civilian control. The building is owned by the city of Vancouver and the Fort Vancouver National Trust holds a master lease.

Donations (with a note indicating Post Hospital Match) can be sent to the Fort Vancouver National Trust, 750 Anderson St., Vancouver, WA, 98661.

People also can go to Post Hospital or call Topper at 360-992-1801.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558;http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.