Ellensburg locations qualify for Third Places Fund


Kassidy Malcom

Multiple Ellensburg buildings could receive funding from The National Register of Historic Places.

Libby Williams, Staff Reporter

Ellensburg is home to 11 historic places on The National Register of Historic Places which could potentially receive grant money.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation (WTHP) held a virtual workshop on April 1st to discuss their Third Places Fund. Property owners who receive grant money from the program can put it towards construction costs in order to preserve the location so it can continue to provide for the community.

Jennifer (Jay) Mortensen, the outreach director at WTHP, led the workshop.

“This program is a one time special grant program that the DAHP, the Department of Historic Preservation and the Washington Trust partnered together to apply for funding from the National Park Services,” Mortensen said. 

These buildings include the Downtown Ellensburg Historic District, the First Railroad Addition Historic District, the Kittitas County Fairgrounds, Olmstead Place State Park and the Washington State Normal School Building (Barge Hall). Since Ellensburg meets the population requirements of the grant, any of these locations are eligible to apply.

There are several qualifications that must be met in order to receive the grant. The property must be in a town with a population of 50,000 or less, and applicants can request a maximum of $75,000 of the $730,000 available.

“In every downtown, there is at least one place people think of as their home away from home,” Jonelle McCoy said. “A place where you meet with your friends, while away an hour and catch up on the news. These are third places, and they are the foundation of civil life, essential to the health of the community and wellbeing of residents.”

A home is considered the first place and a workplace is someone’s second place. McCoy said a third place could be anything from a local café, a barber shop or your local park. The most important thing about these places is the sense of community they bring to those that visit them.

She said the money is federally funded directly to DAHP, and WTHP will run the operations and logistics side of the grant.

The program is reimbursement based, so applicants must have the funds already available before they make any changes, and these changes cannot dramatically shift the cultural integrity of the property.

The property must also be listed on The National Register of Historic Places. Julianne Patterson, a grants coordinator at WTHP who will be overseeing the Third Places Fund, said what this means.

“It really is just an honorary designation that acknowledges that your property or your building has been recognized at the federal level by the National Parks Service as being historically significant,” Patterson said. 

Patterson said that this designation can protect the property from significant damage caused by projects funded by federal dollars, such as federal highway or federal infrastructure projects. 

Mortensen said the WTHP expects most of the money granted will be used for interior and exterior construction and property acquisition. Architectural or engineering costs can account for up to 20% of the total project costs, and any changes made to historic buildings must coincide with the Secretary of the Interior’s for the Treatment of Historic Properties. A preservation agreement or property easement will also be required.

Patterson expressed the importance of preserving historic buildings so that they can be used by the community in various ways for many years to come.

“The use of a historic building will change over time,” Patterson said. “so I think creating new uses for old buildings, especially ones that encourage community engagement and bringing people together is really important.”

Applications for the grant will be due June 1 at 11:59 p.m., and grant winners are expected to be announced sometime in July. More information on the grant as well as applications can be found at preservewa.org