WALLOWA — The Wallowa History Center’s vision for its new home is moving closer to reality.
Board President David Weaver said the center will have its site plan and exhibit plan for the four-building home of the center at 1st and Madison streets in Wallowa by next month, and at that point, they can move to the next step of restoring the old Forest Service buildings and converting them into a history hub.
“By July 1, we’ll have all those products, and then we’ll start chipping away at moving forward with that bigger plan,” Weaver said. “It’s a long-term process. We’ll start looking at which pieces we want to tackle, and start the capital fundraising. We’re four to five years out. So we’ll start doing some of the identified restoration work.”
The center began leasing the property — which includes four buildings — from the city about three or four years ago, Weaver said. Previously, it had been deeded to the Forest Service.
“This was the Bear-Sled Ranger District,” Weaver said.
Among the features of the center’s home once it is complete will be a research library for individuals to dig — both online and through print resources — through history of the city. There also will be an interpretive center.
For now, though, getting some of the basics taken care of on-site is the focus.
“The stages that we have been in now, we sort of have the collection moved in there and set up shop for that, and did the electrical work, and the plumbing work, installation (and a) new exterior window,” Weaver said of the building that previously served as the ranger’s office and will be where the research library is.
Weaver said the hope is that when the center is complete, it will be a location that doesn’t take away from the Wallowa County Museum, but that makes photos, artifacts and more accessible.
“Our plan is basically to have a timeline around Wallowa history in this building centered around natural resources,” he said. “It won’t be a museum, because we already have a good museum, and it’s great up there.”
Mary Ann Burrows, the center’s director, in addition to having a location for history memorabilia, wants to see the buildings restored to what they once were.
“The house is in really bad shape,” she said. “It’s going to take multiple years to complete the project because there is so much work that needs to be done. It’s an addition to our area for people that are interested in history.”