National trust acquires Academy building

Historic downtown landmark was designed, built in 1870s by Mother Joseph

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

Published:

 

? Previously: The Fort Vancouver National Trust announced in 2012 that it was buying the 141-year-old Academy building from the Hidden family.

? What's new: The Trust announced Tuesday morning that it has acquired the building, to be called Providence Academy.

? What's next: Trust officials say a maintenance and renovation project will start with a $1 million new roof.

? Previously: The Fort Vancouver National Trust announced in 2012 that it was buying the 141-year-old Academy building from the Hidden family.

? What’s new: The Trust announced Tuesday morning that it has acquired the building, to be called Providence Academy.

? What’s next: Trust officials say a maintenance and renovation project will start with a $1 million new roof.

One of the most historic buildings in the Pacific Northwest has entered a new era, with the Fort Vancouver National Trust acquiring the Academy building in downtown Vancouver.

“It’s a treasure in the middle of town,” said Ed Lynch, chairman of the national trust’s Academy campaign.

Officials from the nonprofit group announced the deal Tuesday morning in the chapel of the landmark that was designed and built by pioneering nun Mother Joseph.

The national trust is acquiring the 141-year-old building — now called Providence Academy — from the Hidden family, which played a role in its construction.

The announcement caps a two-year capital campaign; it started in 2012 when brothers Bill, Oliver and Monte Hidden announced their intention to sell the building to Fort Vancouver National Trust.

“It seemed readily apparent that there was not another entity in Southwest Washington that was interested in, or could or would save the Academy,” Lynch said in an interview ahead of the official announcement.

“I think this is the prize historic building in the Northwest,” Lynch maintained. “Name something that matches it.”

The Academy, 400 E. Evergreen Blvd., opened in 1873 as a school and orphanage, and as the permanent home of the Sisters of Providence.

Mother Joseph went on to establish 29 hospitals, schools, and orphanages throughout the Northwest, and originated what now is Providence Health & Services.

Her statue is in D.C.

She is one of two people who represent the state of Washington in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

“The Hidden family is so pleased to pass ownership to Fort Vancouver National Trust,” the Hiddens said in a statement. “We preserved this historic building for 46 years, and with such widespread community support its preservation for generations to come is ensured. This fulfills our dream to have the Academy protected in perpetuity.”

Their great-grandfather, Lowell Hidden, supplied the bricks for the Academy’s construction, nearly two decades before Washington became a state.

Acquisition of the Academy and surrounding property is part of a multi-step process, said Elson Strahan, CEO of the national trust.

The first parcel includes the historic building, a restaurant, and another building that had been occupied by a preschool. The second parcel includes a parking area, as well as the former laundry and boiler buildings and a smokestack.

“We can acquire the first half free and clear, which gives us title to the building,” Strahan said. “We also are getting the deed to the second parcel, but the Hiddens will be compensated for that property as we put together a development plan and sell off parcels from that.”

The Historic Trust has a track record of managing historic properties, Strahan said, including the Red Cross Building and the Artillery Barracks in West Barracks, as well as Officers Row.

Now the national trust has to raise $5 million for restoration, maintenance and upgrades at the Academy. A $1 million roofing job is at the top of the to-do list, said Mike True, who took over as president of the organization six weeks ago.

The 6.9-acre Providence Academy campus is bounded by Interstate 5, C Street, 12th Street and Evergreen Boulevard.

Lynch Square

In recognition of Lynch’s leadership and generosity in the Academy campaign, Historic Trust Board Chair Steve Horenstein announced that a landscaping plan is being developed and one area will be named Lynch Square at the Providence Academy.

The square is a fitting tribute to Lynch, Horenstein said, for his work and financial contribution to secure Providence Academy, and also will honor both Ed and the late Dollie Lynch for their generous support benefiting our entire community.

The Historic Trust announced in May 2012 that it was undertaking a $10.6 million fundraising effort. However, the parties did not disclose the price tag on either the first-stage acquisition of the Providence Academy or the entire transaction.