from the director: may

Preservation Month and Heritage Tourism

The National Trust for Historic Preservation was created through legislation signed by President Harry Truman in 1949, sixteen years before the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts. Its charge was simple: to provide leadership, education, advocacy and resources to protect the irreplaceable places that tell America’s story.

May is Preservation Month in America and it’s fitting that we acknowledge the accomplishments and evolution of the preservation field. 4Culture is proud to offer two funding programs backed by Lodging Taxes – Landmark Rehabilitation Program and Landmark Challenge Grants. These two programs provide financial resources to ensure that sites and structures significant to King County’s unique history are preserved for future generations of residents and visitors to our region.

The preservation movement has grown exponentially over the past sixty years and its advocacy efforts have made communities much more aware of the economic and ecological benefits of preserving older buildings. The “out with the old, in with the new” attitude is no longer sustainable. Adaptive reuse is the new mantra. Older buildings can easily be retrofitted for new uses, with enormous benefits to tourism and the environment. When older buildings are torn down or allowed to deteriorate, a part of our past is irrevocably lost and our landfills are stretched to capacity.

Preserving older buildings or districts like Pioneer Square creates places that encourage tourism. Think about where you go when you travel. Most of us travel to experience a place that is not like home. King County’s story is preserved in its farms, barns, historic houses, museums, maritime centers, districts, and industrial sites, many of which are promoted in our new Destination Heritage guide series.

For the past three years, 4Culture’s Heritage and Preservation programs have collaborated on the “Golden Rain Globe Award” for Heritage Tourism. It is the only award program in the state of Washington that specifically celebrates the contributions of historic places and history museums to the local tourist economy. Our first two recipients were The Center for Wooden Boats and the Northwest Railway Museum. These two organizations do a great job of promoting their many programs beyond the region and the interpreting two themes that were critical to the region’s growth.

This year 4Culture is proud to acknowledge The Museum of Flight, one of the great cultural attractions in the Pacific Northwest. I have visited many times, especially when my children were younger. My (at the time) eight-year-old son sat in the cockpit of an F-16 until he had to be yanked out. We walked through Air Force One; visited the exhibits in the Red Barn, the historic birthplace of the Boeing Company; and sailed in a simulated glider. On his twelfth birthday my son and a few friends took control of a space mission in the Challenger Learning Center. An unforgettable family experience.

I’m often asked to explain the difference between heritage and preservation. The truth is these two fields are one and the same, when it comes to heritage tourism. The Museum of Flight is both a heritage museum dedicated to telling the story of aviation, and a preservation site, preserving irreplaceable aircraft and the original structure in which Bill Boeing and a collection of brilliant engineers launched the industry that put Seattle on the map.

Congratulations to The Museum of Flight and its Director Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar for being this year’s Golden Rain Globe award recipient. And thank you for all you do to promote tourism in King County.

Jim Kelly
Executive Director