Depot center recommended for preservation grant

Pullman heritage center already raised more than $400,000, could receive about $260,000 extra funds

The+Whitman+County+Historical+Society+purchased+the+Pullman+Depot+Heritage+Center+in+2018.+Ever+since+then%2C+the+society+has+raised+funds+to+protect+the+exterior+of+the+space.

BENJAMIN MICHAELIS

The Whitman County Historical Society purchased the Pullman Depot Heritage Center in 2018. Ever since then, the society has raised funds to protect the exterior of the space.

MATAYA SIEMION, Evergreen reporter

Railroads were a lifeline for Pullman in the 1800s, and now, a grant could help preserve the historical depot as an educational center for generations to come.

The Washington State Historical Society’s Heritage Capital Grant program recommended the Pullman Depot Heritage Center to receive a $265,740 grant from Washington state in January 2021.

The Heritage Capital Project program’s purpose is to support the preservation of historical sites in Washington. It also strives to educate the public on historical structures, said Jennifer Kilmer, Washington State Historical Society Director.

“The mission of the Washington State Historical Society is to partner with our communities to show how history connects us all,” Kilmer said.

Whitman County Historical Society purchased the Pullman Depot Heritage Center in 2018. They wanted this center to showcase the importance of railroads to develop the surrounding area and WSU, said Linda Hackbarth, Pullman Depot Heritage Center co-coordinator.

The Nature Preservation Grant from the state of Washington is offered every two years, she said. The Pullman Depot Heritage Center had to raise twice the amount of money that they were asking for to qualify for the grant.

The depot board has already raised $400,000 and have started the Fix the Bricks campaign to raise the additional $135,000 that they need, Hackbarth said.

The center is using the money they raised and the potential grant money to restore the exterior of the depot. In the meantime, the center has been open on Saturdays and has some evening programs available, she said.

Hackbarth said fixing the exterior is only step one in a five-step plan the center has to make the building fully operational with educational exhibits. The five-step plan is currently projected to be about $4 million.

“Since the 70’s [the funding] has been extended as normal, however, these are not normal times,” Hackbarth said.

The Heritage Capital Project program funds about $10 million every two years. Despite the center being approved by the selection committee, it is unclear given COVID-19 if the state will be giving out the full $10 million this year, she said.

Kilmer said the grants from The Heritage Capital Project Program range from $25,000 to $1 million. These are generally used to fix damaged historical sites, build new museums or cultural centers.

The applicants each year get ranked by the program and are sent to the legislature. Then, it is decided how many projects will be funded based on their budget, Kilmer said.