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Heritage association hopes to buy historic house
Vashon’s heritage association is launching an ambitious fundraising campaign to secure the property adjacent to its museum for eventual use as a family-friendly education center.
The Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association announced last week that the house on Bank Road that it has long hoped to acquire will go on the market in about a month. It hopes to raise $195,000 by then, enough for a down payment on the property.
“It’s an urgent situation for us,” said Deb Dammann, the current president of the heritage association.
Dammann said the organization has long had its eye on the 1910-era house on Bank Road just west of the heritage museum, which was historically the parsonage of the small Lutheran church where the heritage museum is now housed. Purchasing the home would not only reunite the two historic properties, she said, but would provide a space for the growing museum to expand into.
“Eventually we will outgrow that building,” she said.
The heritage association recently learned that the owner of the house, Bruce Kleiman, plans to put the house on the market in April, and volunteers scrambled to form a plan. They determined they would need to fundraise $195,000 for a down payment — an amount they also hope will cover about half the cost of the house — and applied for a $65,000 grant from King County 4Culture, which has supported other heritage association projects. Dammann said they are feeling optomistic about the grant and have a meeting scheduled with representatives of 4Culture’s emergency and unforeseen opportunities program.
The organization also mailed to all of its members pamphlets titled “An Unforseen Opportunity.” Inside is an appeal for donations as well as a description of what the group is calling a heritage education center, a family-friendly interpretive center that could one day be housed in the new building. At such a center, Dammann said, families could experience child-friendly exhibits, see and touch real artifacts, participate in activities and do research on computers.
Brian Brenno, a heritage association board member, said the house could also provide needed storage space, though its primary use would be as an interpretive center.
“We realize there are a lot of young families on the island, and we’re looking to get a younger demographic in the museum,” he said. “That’s one way we can engage the community and share the history.”
However, the new center, Brenno and Dammann say, likely won’t take shape for years. Should the association purchase the property, it would likely rent out the house for as many as 10 years while it pays off the mortgage. Several years from now, it would likely put forward a capital campaign to fund the creation of the new center.
Kleiman, who was outside the house doing yard work one day last week, declined to comment on the heritage association’s efforts but said he does plan to put his house on the market next month. He also said he has made many improvements to the home, intending to restore it. According to King County records, Kleiman purchased the house in 1988 for $59,500.
Brenno noted that the heritage association has never undergone a large fundraising campaign and has mostly relied on grants and its approximately 400 members for funding. It now needs both wide and quick support for its effort to purchase the house.
“We’ve never quite reached out to the public like VAA and whatnot,” he said. “We need to start reaching out to the community and getting more support so we can reach this goal.”