First, proceeds from the sale of the developable portion of the property is critical to pay off the purchase debt and put The Trust in the financial position to stabilize, restore and improve the Academy building and its operating systems, ensuring that it stands for future generations. Second, developing the west side of the property with compatible, mixed-use buildings with housing and retail will recreate the vibrant, active gathering place that the Providence Academy once was. This will set the stage for more community engagement with the site and ensure the preservation Providence Academy building itself.
As we look toward to the future of the Providence Academy site, it is important that our community understands the site’s rich history. The Academy building was built by Mother Joseph in 1873 and served as a school and an orphanage. It was also the original home and headquarters for the Sisters of Providence. After almost 100 years of operation, the school closed and the site was purchased by the Hidden family, who supported preservation of the site by renting out the Academy building as commercial space, renting parking spaces and leasing the building that housed the El Presidente Restaurant on the Academy grounds.
In 2012, The Historic Trust began to raise money for its acquisition and preservation, and successfully acquired the property in 2015. Today, more than 60 small businesses call the Academy building their home. To date, The Historic Trust, with support from the community, has invested more than $8 million in this important project. We take our stewardship of this community treasure seriously and are working hard to ensure it achieves its maximum potential.
Over its 145-year history, Providence Academy has had multiple functions, adapting over time to meet changing needs. Buildings that have come and gone on the site include multi-story classroom structures, animal yards, water tower, bakery, wood sheds, latrines, gardens, orchards and a religious shrine. The current development proposal is a continuation of the changing historical purposes of the site. Once achieved, the renovation and development efforts to the Providence Academy building and site will preserve its heritage and ensure its active and continued use for future generations.
I thank everyone in our community who has shared their thoughts on the proposed development. The Academy Advisory Team is reviewing feedback from stakeholder interviews, the City of Vancouver, the Clark County Historic Preservation Commission and the community comments submitted at the open house and on our website. Once all of this information has been organized and analyzed, the advisory team will recommend changes to the development plan that considers the feedback provided and the project’s Guiding Principles – Preservation, Compatibility, Fiscal Sustainability, Safety and Code Compliance, and Stakeholder and Public Benefit.
To stay up to date on the status of this process, please visit our website at www.thehistorictrust.org. Together, our community will realize the true vision for the Providence Academy building; a year-round center of activity for the Vancouver community.