To the sound of trumpet fanfare from the Freddy Pink Band on Saturday night July 20, 2013, Mari Phillips, Quilcene Historical Museum Chairman, announced the successful conclusion of Phase I for Worthington Park in Quilcene, Washington.
“It simply doesn’t get much better than this, Phillips remarked. Little under two years ago our Board embarked upon a capital campaign to raise money and purchase the Worthington property located on Columbia Street. We have now successfully completed the two major parts of Phase I: one – a capital campaign and two – purchase of the property. By June of this year, we met our campaign goal and I am proud beyond belief to show you the deed to Worthington Park, now owned and under the care of our Museum.”
The campaign was a first in many ways for this small town on the Olympic Peninsula. It represents the first major capital campaign ever launched in the area. Organized by a volunteer steering committee and the Quilcene Historical Museum Board, the campaign began locally with 100% board giving and by the end of June, gifts had been received from 16 states across the nation, 78 cities in total, with 43 towns in Washington state.
In reflecting back on the decision to go forward, Phillips said, “We (the Museum Board) knew the opportunity to purchase Worthington Park would only come once.” She continued, “The property is 10 acres with 660’ of riverfront, a Victorian mansion built in 1891, out-buildings, vintage barn, native woodlands, and a beautiful pond. It is full of possibilities for our community and visitors to enjoy, learn, and experience in a country-setting.”
During the campaign, Eilleen Worthington (1919-2012) then property owner, gave her support to a unique building effort on the property prior to the completion of the real estate sale to the Museum. Envisioned by local community member, Bob Rosen, The Linger Longer Outdoor Theater was professionally constructed by 16 local volunteers in a record amount of time – two months from breaking ground to finish. Over 70 people helped the core building team with in-kind contributions, labor and cash donations. Unofficial appraisal of the finished structure is $165,000. The stage was dedicated in July, 2012, and the current second season features concerts and other special events for the local community and visitors to the Olympic Peninsula. Net proceeds from the theater support the Museum operations.
Support from both small and major businesses in Quilcene was strong. The Quilcene Village Store sponsored a matching challenge grant in winter this year. A Business-to-Business matching program was launched and successfully completed. Major contributor, Coast Seafood Company, located on Quilcene Bay, understands the positive impact the Park will have on town. Coast president, John Petrie commented, “The volunteer commitment of Quilcene is nothing short of phenomenal. We at Coast understand and respect the stewardship necessary to preserve our land and waters. This effort to preserve Worthington Park for our future generations is yet another indication that this community cares – leaving a legacy and creating a venue as a new economic outreach.”
“Our town and South County really became a very positive ‘family’ to help raise the necessary funds” stated U.S. Bank vice-president, Lisa Hames. 418 different individuals and businesses contributed to the campaign. Gifts came in all sizes. Two youngsters from Arlington contributed money from their allowances; a local EMT visiting the Museum and heard of this local effort, emptied his wallet and gave to WP. To “top” the giving tree, in June, the campaign received a grant from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust, in the amount of $57,000.
“To receive a grant from the Birkenfeld Trust is a huge vote of confidence and trust in our community,” stated Carol Christiansen, volunteer campaign fund-raising coordinator. She continued,”the committee from the Seattle Foundation, who manages the trust, was impressed with our communities “can-do” attitude and the fact this campaign was organized and run by volunteers.”
In total the capital campaign raised $366,828 which is 22% over goal. Thanks to widespread support, the Museum can begin a kickstart immediately for the Phase II. In addition, during the campaign several significant mansion problems needed immediate attention and it was evident the repairs needed to be made immediately. The Board advanced the necessary dollars from the Museum reserve fund to fix the problems. Those funds can now be replenished.
The news gets even better. Early on in the campaign, State Representative Steve Tharinger (District 24) submitted a “member requested local community project” for Phase II of the project. The request included building repairs and structural development. Working the request through both house of the legislature was a daunting task and County Commissioner Phil Johnson kept the project visibility high in Olympia.
Museum secretary, Larry McKeehan, commented,”We are so very grateful for the guidance and support of Jefferson county commissioners on the project. From the beginning days Commissioners Austin, Johnson, and Sullivan have shown their support by attending functions and lending guidance in this many faceted project.” After the legislative session ended, Commissioner Phil Johnson ‘unearthed’ PSHB 1089, and he contacted Museum officials. He said to be cautiously optimistic that the request was still in the budget. And on the bill language, Page 34, Number 28, this page lists Worthington Park receiving $210,000 for Phase II of the Project.
McKeehan continued, “our legislators from the 24th District – Senator Hargrove and Representatives Tharinger and Van De Wege have been so supportive of our efforts – we are honored by their support.”
Phillips concluded, “Now that the Phase I is complete and the Museum has title to Worthington Park, we have the luxury of focusing on developing a clear vision and mission statement of what Worthington Park will become for our local community, Jefferson County and visitors to the Olympic Peninsula. The volunteer Steering Committee for Phase II will be developed as the needs, people skills, and expertise for renovation is identified through the scope of work to be completed. The mansion is a grand Victorian ‘lady’ and the residence needs a great amount of work and renovation to keep this landmark in good order for generations to come.”
- Vintage Kenworth logging truck…
Read about the Kenworth connection to Worthington Park!