The Key Peninsula Historical Society received a substantial boost for the restoration of the 1893 Vaughn Library Hall with the award of a $100,000 grant included in the state’s 2022-23 budget. The grant is one of more than 200 awards for local and community capital projects statewide, totaling an appropriation of $160,910,000. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Inslee May 18.
Restoration of the historic hall began in 2016, soon after the building was acquired by the historical society. After extensive cleanup by a large group of volunteers from the community, the focus shifted to stabilizing the structure and beginning to make it weatherproof and secure. This grant will be used to complete as much of the weatherproofing as possible by adding new siding that matches the original appearance as well as related upgrades, according to society president Cathy Williams and project manager Bart Wolfe.
The society has spent about $150,000 on the project to date. In addition to the $100,000 state grant, it also received grants from Pierce County, The Angel Guild and The National Society of Colonial Dames as well as private donations, raising a total of $133,000 so far. Wolfe estimates that an additional $200,000 will be needed in the next year or two, assuming recent inflation in construction costs returns to normal from its current highs.
The board worked closely with Sen. Emily Randall (D-26, Bremerton) and Rep. Michelle Caldier (R-26, Port Orchard), who sponsored the project. Randall and Caldier visited the historic hall and later met with Williams, Wolfe and other board members to ensure a successful grant application.
“I was very happy to help with this important project; I remember noticing an old ballot box when I visited, a reminder that the hall was a place where people went to fulfill their civic duty,” Randall said. “I’m excited to visit later this summer to see how work is coming.”
Caldier said the historic building “will cultivate our community with the dedication of the Key Peninsula Historical Society.”
“We’ve received a number of other grants as well as numerous donations but nothing on this scale; we are truly grateful for all Senator Randall and Representative Caldier have done on our behalf,” Williams said.
“We still have a long way to go but this grant will really help,” Wolfe added.
The Vaughn hall, the last remaining of many such structures that once dotted the Key Peninsula, began as a dance floor built by early Vaughn settlers to celebrate the Fourth of July in 1889, a few months before Washington became a state. The Vaughn Bay Public Library Association was formed in 1892 to encourage the education of early settlers; in 1893, walls and a roof were added to the dance floor to create a meeting hall with a library in one corner. Over time the library outgrew its small corner, and in 1926 an addition was built alongside the meeting hall for a larger library and eventually for a kitchen and storage. The hall continued to be used regularly until the 1950s when it was sold and converted to a residence. (See “Vaughn Library Hall Restoration Underway,” KP News, July 2019).
Once the restoration is complete, the society intends to open the building for both public and private events. “Besides holding our own events we will make the hall available for private parties, weddings, reunions and other activities,” Williams said. “We have found enough of the original finishes, lighting fixtures, etc. to know how to match each, so we are confident that, when complete, we will be able to share the history of the hall and allow people to experience it just as the early settlers did.”
For more information, go to www.keypeninsulamuseum.org.
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