An unexpectedly large turnout for a historic restoration fundraiser last week netted more than $12,000 for the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens in Pioneer Park on Spokane’s lower South Hill.
About 850 people attended the tour of four historic homes in a neighborhood adjacent to the gardens. The entrance fee was $15 a person.
“It exceeded expectations,” said Lynn Mandyke, who oversees the garden as director of the Corbin Art Center, 507 W. Seventh Ave.
The money will be added to $40,000 in anonymous individual donations received last year to create a maintenance fund for the gardens, which opened to the public in August 2007 following a multiyear restoration.
Last week’s home tour was the first fundraising effort of a volunteer organization known as the Friends of the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens. Sterling Savings Bank in Spokane paid the costs of the tour, including printing brochures, which allowed for all of the admissions revenue to go into the maintenance fund.
Mandyke said the turnout underscored the significance of historic preservation and the public’s support for the gardens and historic restoration in general.
Because of the city’s strong preservation ethic, Mandyke said, Spokane is in the running to host a convention of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2012, which could bring 1,000 people to Spokane to see the city’s historic properties.
The heritage gardens were resurrected from an old mansion garden that graced the lower South Hill along Seventh Avenue, west of Stevens Street.
The original gardens were part of an 1889 mansion designed by renowned Spokane architect Kirtland Cutter. The house was torn down in 1940, and the gardens slowly decayed, only to be rediscovered in 1998.
Photographs and memorabilia kept by Bertha Turner, wife of U.S. Sen. George Turner, and donated to Washington State University provided information for accurate restoration.
The Turners were the home’s second owners and hosted President Theodore Roosevelt there in 1903.
Among grants and donations toward the restoration, businesswoman Myrtle Woldson, of Spokane, contributed $1.2 million in honor of her mother.
The maintenance fund will go for path and concrete repairs, plant replacements, erosion control and other upkeep.
The gardens will be open Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 28 and reopen next spring.