Hillsboro Historical Society seeks funding for project
Main Street in downtown Hillsboro may soon see upgrades if a project by the Hillsboro Historical Society receives funding.
The society started phase one of its Stories on the Streets project last month to add 23 visually appealing historical signs, with small descriptions, to buildings on the second and third blocks of Main Street.
The signs would then link to a website, which would go into further detail about the location and allow others to share their memories about the site.
"I have found in working with the community that most people these days are completely unfamiliar with the history of Hillsboro," said Tonya Macalino, a board member with the Hillsboro Historical Society. "When people have connections to their community — when they own the story of their town — and when they feel a part of it, they tend to be more involved."
The project would highlight "forgotten" historical figures of the Tualatin Valley, such as financer John Shute, newspaperwoman Emma McKinney, statesman and physician Dr. Francis Bailey, and theater man Orange Phelps.
As for the funding, the nonprofit has applied for several grants — including the Oregon Heritage Commission grant. The society requested $11,642 in funds for the project and is planning to match the grant with $18,833, which will come from people donating time and services for editing, fact checking, and artist renderings.
Emily Barnes, the artist who would provide the artwork, hails from Hillsboro. Having a local artist was a requirement from the Oregon Heritage Commission grant committee, said Macalino.
"We'll also have the opportunity for individuals and other folks to sponsor the signs or co-sponsor," she added.
The Hillsboro Downtown Partnership is also helping create and install the project. With the partnership's help, the society is able to connect to property owners and get approval for the signs.
"For the most part, the people that own properties downtown, they have pride in these buildings and what they are," said Elisa Joy Payne, executive director for the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership. "So, if we can just help share that pride and give them, the community, and give them a little extra, like, "Thanks for being part of this,' for free and not any cost to you — that'll be key to this project."
But Payne did acknowledge that it can be difficult for owners to maintain historical buildings because of the added cost. One of the biggest hurdles so far has been assuring property owners that the signs will be properly installed outside of the buildings, said Payne.
Despite that, the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership has received a few verbal commitments from building owners on Main Street.
"It's the whole idea (that) these things happen because of community," said Payne. "They're not about one organization or one individual."
Once the permissions are in place, the Hillsboro Historical Society has enough money to move forward with a prototype, said Macalino.
But if the grant money doesn't come through, the society is fundraising online at gofundme.com/stories-on-the-streets. The page has raised $375 of the $20,000 goal listed on the website.
The project is set to be done in time for the Celebrate Hillsboro festival next summer, which attracts more than 12,000 people annually, said Macalino.
She hopes the community will be more involved once the first phase is completed. The signs would then be added to additional blocks of the downtown area.
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