By Joshua Dillen
Baker City Herald
Face-lifts can be expensive.
When an historic building needs one, the price quickly runs into the thousands of dollars.
Baker City's Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) building at the corner of First Street and Valley Avenue is getting a much needed makeover thanks to Historic Baker City Inc. (HBC) and the Leo Adler Foundation.
Kate Dimon is the director of HBC. She helped the VFW apply for a $7,000 grant from the Leo Adler Foundation.
Dimon is up to more than just helping to secure funding for the project, though.
She was hard at work Tuesday morning sanding the base of the columns at the entrance to the brick building, which celebrated its centennial last year.
Officially dedicated on Oct. 24, 1912, the building originally housed the YMCA and included a swimming pool on the main floor and a gymnasium on the upper floor.
Gary Young is on the VFW's board of directors and is very involved in the restoration project. He and the rest of the board decided it was time to use some of the money their organization had in its coffers.
"The building and the sidewalks were deteriorating so we thought it would be a good time to use the funds we have and go to work to get it cleaned up to make it look much better than just a derelict building," Young said
Appearances are important and need addressing sometimes.
"I had a professor one time tell me, 'every couple of years a building, like a lady, needs a new pair of clothes,' " Dimon said with a chuckle. "So we're giving her kind of a new outfit."
Dimon, as a veteran herself, has a particular affinity for the structure.
The sidewalks on both the Valley Avenue and First Street sides of the building were recently replaced. The price tag for that project was $24,500. Baker City reimbursed the VFW $1,500 through its sidewalk grant program, and another $775 for the wheelchair-accessible ramp that was part of the project.
Ed Hindman, bar manager for the VFW, is grateful for Dimon's help.
"We've been working on getting grants for seven or eight years and finally Kate came through for us," he said.
Hindman said the Audubon Society donated and planted the new trees on the First Street side of the building.
For more information about the Leo Adler Foundation and how to apply for a community grant, visit his Web page at www.leoadler.com/community.html. Call HBC at 541-523-5442 to learn more about its community projects.
Information about how to apply for a sidewalk construction or replacement grant can be obtained by calling Jennifer Murphy in the Baker City Public Works Department at 541-524-2063.