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News / Clark County News

Vancouver’s Providence Academy smokestack to be demolished in August

Historic Trust names Temple Lentz as executive director

By Will Campbell, Columbian Associate Editor
Published: July 5, 2022, 6:04am
2 Photos
Fall colors frame the Providence Academy smokestack last October. It is set to be demolished in August.
Fall colors frame the Providence Academy smokestack last October. It is set to be demolished in August. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

The Historic Trust is undergoing changes. County Councilor Temple Lentz is its new executive director, and the trust is proceeding with plans to demolish the Providence Academy’s smokestack in early August.

The fate of the smokestack was deferred for a 90-day window after the city granted a demolition permit. After some objections to its demolition, the trust attempted to raise $3.5 million required to restore it to a safe state. But pledges totaled a little less than $4,000 as of Wednesday, Lentz said.

The remnant materials of the smokestack and nearby boiler and laundry buildings, all made of brick, will be saved and repurposed in the Academy’s future renovation projects. The trust also plans to photograph the smokestack for future educational displays.

With the 112-year-old smokestack’s fate determined, the trust is focusing its effort and funding on repairing and maintaining Providence Academy. The academy, once used as a school, dates to 1873, making it much older than the smokestack.

The academy is now used for offices and events, and there are still parts of the building that need repair, including some of the outer balconies on the upper levels.

Lentz, who has served on the Clark County Council since 2018 but announced she would not seek another term, said that the position at the Historic Trust came along after she decided her time in office was done.

“I was expecting to be looking for a ‘real job,’ but not quite so soon,” she said with a laugh.

Lentz earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in organizational leadership. She formerly worked as executive director of the Parks Foundation of Clark County and produced and hosted a talk show, “Hello Vancouver!” She also served on three state boards, appointed by the governor.

She said one of her first directives at the Historic Trust is to find stabilization with the nonprofit’s direction after the effects of the pandemic.

The Historic Trust was founded in 1998, dedicated to inspiring civic pride and economic vitality through education, preservation and celebration of community history. It manages and renovates historically significant buildings and grounds in Vancouver, including Providence Academy.

“This is the home of some of the foundational history for the region,” Lentz said. “I want to continue the work of preserving, protecting and finding contemporary use for these resources.”

After the smokestack is demolished, the land will be sold to Marathon Management for the Aegis Phase 2 apartment project. Marathon is nearing completion of two apartment buildings on the west side of Providence Academy.