Then and now: The Morrill Bank building, on the corner of First and Gowe, in 1910, left, and today. COURTESY PHOTOS

Then and now: The Morrill Bank building, on the corner of First and Gowe, in 1910, left, and today. COURTESY PHOTOS

Kent’s Morrill Bank building one of 20 finalists in national competition for preservation dollars

Residents can vote to help receive funds

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

The Morrill Bank 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.

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,” Kent Downtown Partnership 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.

“Our city has an amazing history that needs to be preserved and being nominated for this project speaks to that,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said. “You can help celebrate our rich history by voting. This funding will help us restore this beautiful building for future generations to enjoy. We can’t make this a reality without your vote.”

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