Then and now: The Morrill Bank building, on the corner of First and Gowe, in 1924, left, and today. COURTESY PHOTOS

Then and now: The Morrill Bank building, on the corner of First and Gowe, in 1924, left, and today. COURTESY PHOTOS

KDP, Partners in Preservation: Main Streets to host open house weekend

Public can learn more about the Morrill Bank building restoration and help it win a preservation grant

Partners in Preservation: Main Streets and the Kent Downtown Partnership host open house weekend events on Saturday, Oct 20 at Kent’s Morrill Bank building.

Visitors are invited to learn about the unique history of the building, at 201 First Ave. S., and its restoration efforts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The open house will include a charrette from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., a hosted information table in front of the building from 1 to 3 p.m. and another information table at the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey game at the accesso ShoWare Center in the evening.

The building is one of 20 historic sites competing to win funding from Partners in Preservation, a partnership created by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places, according to a city news release.

If it gets the most votes online, the Morrill Bank building will receive $150,000 for its restoration.

Community members can vote at up to five times a day, until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 25. People can also text “MAINSTREET” to 52886.

The Morrill Bank building, Kent’s first bank, once featured a grand, two-story entry, arched-windows and clinker brick. If this project is funded, the $150,000 will help return the building to its 1924 appearance, including removal of the stucco exterior and restoration of the now-covered two-story entry and windows.

“With the community’s support, we have a unique opportunity to restore a downtown treasure,” KDP executive director Barbara Smith said. “It would take much longer to raise this kind of money on our own. By preserving this historic site, we honor our city’s history and diversity.

“This program – which celebrates diversity – is fitting for Kent because the building is home to the Ubuntu Street Café, operated by nonprofit Project Feast. Their mission is to transform the lives of refugees and immigrants through a culinary training program and to enrich communities through intercultural exchange.”

As one of the most diverse mid-sized cities in America, Kent has long been a destination for immigrants and refugees, including Europeans in the mid-1850s, first-generation Japanese in the 1920s and today’s immigrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

Created in 2006 by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Partners in Preservation is a community-based partnership to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places and their role in sustaining local communities.

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