Trust wins $650K grant for purchase of Academy

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



Go to or call Elson Strahan at 360-992-1835.

Go to or call Elson Strahan at 360-992-1835.

The Fort Vancouver National Trust has been awarded a $650,000 challenge grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to help purchase the historic Academy building in Vancouver.

Matching the Murdock challenge grant would put the National Trust’s Academy Campaign at about $5.3 million in pledges and contributions — halfway to the purchase price.

“The challenge grant is designed to raise awareness of The Academy as an iconic historic structure,” Elson Strahan, National Trust president and CEO, said Wednesday afternoon.

The campaign is looking to raise $10.6 million by its January deadline.

By reaching 50 percent of the goal, “this grant signals we are making great progress,” Strahan said. “Up to that point, there is a wariness on the part of donors whether you will get to the finish line.”

The three-story landmark at 400 Evergreen Blvd. was built in 1873 by pioneering nun Mother Joseph. Once known as Providence Academy, it served the community as a school until its closure in 1966.

The brick structure has been owned since 1969 by Vancouver’s Hidden family. An earlier generation of Hiddens provided bricks and lumber to build The Academy.

The trust and the Hiddens announced a sales agreement in May 2012. Because the negotiations took place below the radar, “We didn’t have a precampaign buildup” to raise money, Strahan said.

While Interstate 5 separates The Academy’s 7-acre campus from the Vancouver Barracks area and National Park Service site, The Academy was historically linked to the Fort Vancouver National Site, Strahan said.

The Vancouver-based Murdock Charitable Trust provides grants to organizations that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, cultural and spiritual base.