Wait Park, Log House, Whiskey Hill Store Selected for Cultural Grants

The Clackamas County Cultural Coalition has announced the award of $39,000 to 17 projects supporting local arts, heritage and humanities — and several recipients hail from our area.

The City of Canby’s beloved downtown Wait Park was awarded $2,000 for a project known as “Amplify Wait Park.” Canby Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator Calvin LeSueur explained in an email that the project will permanently install outdoor-rated, wireless speakers on four light posts in Wait Park.

“Have you ever been to Canby’s traditional Light Up The Night holiday ceremony in Wait Park, but not been able to hear the music and announcements well?” LeSueur asked in a city newsletter this week explaining the program. “That should be a worry of the past once the project to ‘Amplify Wait Park’ is implemented this year.”

Example of the Airnetix ‘Street Sounds’ wireless audio speakers that will be installed at Wait Park. Courtesy the City of Canby.

The project will allow the city to “amplify” announcements and music during its many events that center on Wait Park, including Canby’s Independence Day Celebration, the Big Night Out Street Dance and the Downtown Canby Halloween Spooktacular Village.

LeSueur did not give a definitive timetable for the project but said the new speakers will be installed before this summer.

The Molalla Log House, a more than 200-year-old structure being restored and rebuilt at the Hopkins Demonstration Forest near Canby, was awarded $2,500 for an education interpretive panel. (Technically, the grant was awarded to the nonprofit Forests Forever, Inc., which owns and manages Hopkins.)

The old house is still in the midst of the restoration process, but is expected to open for demonstrations, school trips and the like at some point this year.

Darryl and Amy Lenhardt — owners of the Whiskey Hill Store as well as our favorite love story just waiting for a call from Hallmark Channel producers — will receive $1,000 for an in-store historical display.

The Lenhardts have been working since 2019 to “restore the store” — the nearly 100-year-old structure that has long been the heart of the small but tightly connected Ninety-One School/Whiskey Hill Community.

The building was actually the original Ninety-One School — then known as Whiskey Hill School — before it was moved across the street and given new life as a store and residence in 1949.

The Lenhardts said the bulk of the award will be used to enhance historic photos, which will be displayed in the rebuilt “library” bookshelf on the east side of the building.

The deteriorated bookshelf, which the Lenhardts learned from former students had been the school’s original “library,” will be rebuilt and house historical photos and memorabilia from the school and store which have been found or donated. Frames for the photos will be made from reclaimed building materials found onsite.

“Though we are the owners of this property, we see ourselves as stewards, entrusted to rebuild this beautiful building and share the history with all who come here,” Amy Lenhardt said. “Our hope is these artifacts will remain on display, no matter how long we are the owners.”

The Mark Prairie Historical Society was offered a $2,500 grant for the Let’s Warm Up the Mark Prairie Schoolhouse initiative — though the Cultural Coalition noted that this award was declined.

And the Charbonneau Arts Association also received a $2,500 award for “The Biggest Pumpkin” Community Sculpture — which they accepted.

The Clackamas County Cultural Coalition’s Project Grant program’s purpose is to locally distribute private funds contributed to the Oregon Cultural Trust in support of goals and funding priorities outlined in the Clackamas County Plan for Arts, Heritage and Humanities.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer these funding opportunities for Clackamas County arts, culture and heritage organizations, and individual creatives,” said Clackamas County Cultural Coalition Chair Katinka Bryk.

“The impact extends beyond simply the immediate performance or project- cultural experiences can change lives and communities for the better. They increase the quality of life, explain our history and bring joy. Thank you to all the organizations who work so steadily to make Clackamas County the best place to live.”

This year’s funding priorities were to increase how local culture is valued and supported; support the creation of, or participation in, cultural projects and activities; and stimulate the partnerships and collaborations that grow capacities to support assets and remove barriers.

The association also sought to communications capacity for cultural groups, organizations, and artists/creatives, and offer other operating support due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An independent grant review panel was convened to review the 24 applications received. The full list of projects recommended for funding (including four first-time recipients) is available here.

Since its inception in 2005, the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition has provided funding of over $535,208 to 321 local arts, heritage and humanities projects and needs. Funding is made possible through the Oregon Cultural Trust.

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