City receives state grant to expand historic church survey

The City of Tacoma’s historic preservation office has received a $17,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation Office’s Certified Local Government program to expand an effort currently underway to survey and inventory Tacoma’s historic churches, according to a statement released Friday.

The announcement comes two months after Historic Tacoma, a non-profit organization that advocates for historic preservation, announced it had received a $5,000 grant from the National Society of the Colonial Dames in the State of Washington to fund the historic church inventory and survey.

“We hope this work will provide the means to proactively preserve Tacoma’s sacred places and for more congregations to nominate their structures to the Tacoma Register of Historic Places,” said Historic Tacoma board president Sharon Winters, who shared the news in an e-mail announcement to Historic Tacoma members.

According to Winters, inventory work is expected to begin this fall. Next year, the organization plans to post the inventory on the Web and publish a walking tour map and brochure.

Both grants and the project it will support come at a time when local congregations are facing dual challenges of a decline in memberships and rising costs associated with maintaining their historic churches. In May 2006, the congregation at First United Methodist Church sold its 90-year-old building to MultiCare Health System for $8 million. The church was later demolished to make room for the hospital’s expansion.

According to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s Web site, the Certified Local Government program aims to help local governments preserve historic and cultural resources.