December 18, 2010 in Washington Voices

Encouraging sign

Spokane Valley Heritage Museum raising money to restore building’s signature nameplate
By The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Valley Heritage Museum volunteers Herman Meier and Al Shrock get a hand from Don Gormancovering the sign to protect it from deteroriating. The museum hopes to raise $10,000 to restore the original 1912 scroll sign above the entrance to the historical Opportunity Township Hall. Below, the entrance of the museum, featuring the scroll sign.
(Full-size photo)

For almost 100 years, it has hung over the door of what is now the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, 12114 E. Sprague Ave. It was there when the building was Opportunity Township Hall. It was there when it was a silent movie theater. It overlooked Sprague Avenue when that huge swath of asphalt and traffic lights was still just a dirt road.

The scrolled sign that says, “Opportunity Anno 1912” will soon be restored or rebuilt, according to Jayne Singleton, director of the museum.

“This is a Valley landmark,” she said.

The sign is now covered in black plastic to protect it from any further damage – Singleton said it has cracks, and chunks of plaster are missing.

During the coming months, the museum will present events to raise funds for the old sign. Singleton said she will also accept donations throughout the year; her goal is to raise $10,000.

Singleton said she is not sure if it will need to be taken down completely to be fixed or if workers will have to do the repairs while it is still attached to the building. She said it was originally attached using long spikes, similar to railroad spikes, and if it is removed, it might crumble. If that happens, the sign will need to be recast.

She said the sign has watched over the area and watched the change that has taken place.

“Besides being a sentinel, it’s a cornerstone,” Singleton said. She said the building doesn’t have a real cornerstone. “It’s very distinct and very recognizable.”

The Spanish Colonial Mission Style building was made with brick blocks and covered with a stucco façade. It was renovated to suit the purposes of a museum on the inside. A volunteer, Al Shrock, built the office and Singleton said he has been helping with the planning of restoring the old sign.

“We’re in good hands with Al,” Singleton said.

Singleton said the museum is not supported by tax dollars; the entire operation is supported by the community. She added that all donations are tax deductable.

“We’re very, very grateful for all the support we’ve had from the community,” Singleton said.

“It’s not like any sign today,” she said. Its design of an unfolding scroll reminds her of the history she has been working to preserve.

“It’s unfolding,” she said. “History is unfolding in front of it.”

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