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Museum & Arts Center makes history
by Reneé Mizar
MAC Communications Coordinator
The Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley (MAC), a nonprofit organization invested in preserving regional history, has made history of its own by earning a prestigious state historic preservation award.
The MAC is the recipient of a 2012 State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation for its stewardship of the Dungeness Schoolhouse. The organization has owned and operated the two-story, 1892-built schoolhouse, at 2781 Towne Road in Sequim, for the past 17 years.
The MAC is among 13 individuals and organizations from across the state to earn
a 2012 award, presented by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The awards program recognizes persons, organizations and projects that have achieved distinction in the field of historic preservation, with the stewardship award bestowed upon those with a long and distinguished track record of preserving a historical site.
MAC Executive Director DJ Bassett noted that countless volunteer hours have been invested in the local landmark’s upkeep over the years, with ongoing maintenance and preservation efforts funded through grants, fundraisers and donations. Such projects have included repairing the schoolhouse’s distinctive belfry and building an ADA access ramp in 2006, performing fire code and safety upgrades in January 2011 and restoratively repainting the building’s entire exterior last summer.
“The Dungeness Schoolhouse has a long history of being well-loved and preserved in the community and this stewardship award reflects that,” said Bassett, who accepted the award at a ceremony in Olympia recently. “This is a great collective achievement for our organization and our resolve to preserve and celebrate the schoolhouse and utilize it to its full potential is as strong as ever.”
The MAC plans to celebrate its historic achievement with a MAC members-only reception from 2-4 p.m.
Saturday, May 19, at the schoolhouse. All current and lifetime MAC members, and those who join at the door, are encouraged to attend the reception, which will include tea and orange tea cake refreshments. Membership forms are available on the MAC website at www.macsequim.org.
Schoolhouse gets wired
The stewardship award comes on the heels of the MAC having received a $3,000 grant from The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Washington to fund electrical upgrades throughout the schoolhouse.
The upgrades, which were completed by Allen Electric and Jeff Nelson Electric of Sequim in March, have increased the building’s overall electrical capacity and included health and safety component improvements, installation of new electrical circuits and upgrades to existing outlets.
“Readers Theatre Plus has long been grateful to have found a home in the Dungeness Schoolhouse. It is such a lovely, intimate space and we had been proud of the productions we have presented there,” local thespian Carol Swarbrick Dries said of the theater troupe she co-founded.
“We have been limited by the outdated electrical system, (but) with the upgrades, Readers Theatre Plus will enjoy the space even more, as will our audiences.”
The electrical upgrades also made possible the installation of a wireless Internet connection a few weeks ago, Bassett said. With the schoolhouse now wired in more ways than one, the MAC is seeking to ramp up rentals of the multi-use structure that includes two downstairs classrooms and an upstairs auditorium with chairlift.
To that end, Bassett said the MAC is developing a marketing campaign specifically for the schoolhouse to draw both long-term renters as well as event-specific users in order for it to become a self-sustaining facility.
“At 120 years old, our historical schoolhouse has just taken a giant leap into the 21st century, and in doing so, truly fits the bill as a multi-use facility,” Bassett said.
Additional information about the Dungeness Schoolhouse, including its 120-year history and a printable rental agreement form, is on the MAC website at www.macsequim.org.
Prospective renters are asked to contact schoolhouse managers Mike and Kathy Bare at 477-4240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.