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Posted by Madi Hantho on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 in The Academy

Fort Vancouver National Trust Announces Acquisition of Historic Academy in Vancouver, Washington

Fort Vancouver National Trust's Academy Campaign Chair, Ed Lynch, announced today that the Trust is purchasing the historic Academy building in downtown Vancouver from the Hidden family. "Acquiring and preserving the Academy is critically important as one of the most significant historic buildings in the region.  The Academy embodies the work of its most iconic resident, Mother Joseph, which means it also has national stature."

Following a two-year fundraising campaign, acquisition of the Academy and surrounding property is the first of a three-phase initiative to acquire, renovate and preserve the building, and develop the surrounding property.

Opened in 1873, the Academy served as a school and orphanage, and as the permanent home of the Sisters of Providence.  It was designed and built by Mother Joseph, who went on to establish twenty-nine hospitals, schools, and orphanages throughout the Northwest.  Because of her remarkable achievements, Mother Joseph represents the State of Washington in National Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill.

Over the past several decades the Academy has been under the stewardship of Bill, Oliver and Monte Hidden, who noted: "The Hidden family is so pleased to pass ownership to Fort Vancouver National Trust. We preserved this historic building for 46 years, and with such widespread community support its preservation for generations to come is ensured.  This fulfills our dream to have the Academy protected in perpetuity."

The brothers' great-grandfather, Lowell Hidden, supplied the bricks to Mother Joseph to construct the Academy, and when the Sisters of Providence closed the school and offered it for sale, the Hidden brothers and their father, Robert Hidden, acquired the Academy in 1969 to prevent it from being torn down.

The Academy site in downtown Vancouver will be deeded to the Trust as two separate and roughly equal-sized parcels totaling nearly seven acres.  The first parcel including the Academy structure, as well as two additional buildings: the El Presidente restaurant and another that recently served as a preschool -- along with adjacent property for tenant parking.  The second parcel includes property currently being leased for parking, as well as the former laundry and boiler buildings and a smokestack.  The sale agreement enables the Trust to hold the deed for the second parcel and to compensate the Hiddens as this property is sold for development.  The Trust board and staff continue to work on development alternatives and will announce commitments as they are approved.

Trust CEO Elson Strahan has worked closely with Lynch to secure funding and negotiate the Academy purchase.  "Acquiring the Academy to ensure its preservation has been my primary objective over the past thirty months.  Accomplishing this goal is tremendously gratifying as I conclude more than twelve years leading Trust."  Strahan recently announced that he will leave the Trust in March 2015.  During his remaining time with the Trust he will continue to identify and secure capital support for renovation and restoration of the building.

Approximately $2 million is needed to address immediate preservation projects including repointing the brick and replacing porches and the roof of the Academy.  Fundraising for these projects, as well as the planning and development of the second parcel, will begin immediately and occur simultaneously over the next three years.

Mike True, Trust president, will lead the property renovation and development efforts for the Academy property. True led similar efforts on Officers Row and for the West Barracks. In considering the work ahead, True explains: "Managing and developing historic properties presents unique challenges and opportunities.  The Trust welcomes the prospect of renovating and restoring this iconic building, as well as developing its seven acres to honor its history and contribute to the economic vitality of downtown Vancouver."

Additional Announcements Made

Two other major announcements were made in conjunction with the Academy acquisition:

1.     Michael White, chief operating officer for Providence Health Plan, acknowledged all the people of Providence who personally contributed to the Academy Campaign effort. "The Academy is our historic home. Providence grew out of the vision and efforts of Mother Joseph, who was a pioneer in establishing health care, education, and social services in the Northwest, as well as the Academy building itself. Hundreds of our employees have visited the Academy under the guidance of Sister Susanne Hartung, SP, who has played an instrumental role in the Trust's campaign."

The Trust values this association and will continue to welcome Providence employee visitation.  Moreover, in recognition of this historical connection and the generosity of Providence staff, the Trust will return to the building's original identity and it will once again be known as "Providence Academy."

"We could not be more pleased," said White. "We look forward to partnering with the Trust in establishing interpretive components at Providence Academy that will give tribute to Mother Joseph and continue to tell the story of the origins of Providence Health & Services."

2.     To recognize the leadership and generosity of Ed Lynch in support of the Providence Academy Campaign, Board Chair, Steve Horenstein revealed that a landscaping plan is being developed and will be named Lynch Square at the Providence Academy.  The square is a fitting tribute to Lynch for his work and financial contribution to secure Providence Academy, and also will honor both Ed and the late Dollie Lynch for their generous support benefiting our entire community.  As Horenstein noted: "Ed and Dollie have given so much to so many worthy causes and they both shared a tremendous love of history. The board and staff of the Trust felt it is fitting that a public space be designated on these historic grounds to pay tribute to all they have done for us."

About Fort Vancouver National Trust:
Established in 1998, Fort Vancouver National Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the preservation and education purposes of Fort Vancouver National Site. The mission of the Trust is to achieve national recognition of Fort Vancouver National Site as a premier historic destination. The Trust works with Fort Vancouver partners in a collective effort to preserve, enhance and operate Fort Vancouver for public benefit through education, resource development, advocacy, community identity, programs and cultural tourism. For more information, visit or call 360-992-1800.

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