The city of Colusa and Alpha Kappa Chapter of Omega Nu will host an open house at Colusa City Hall next week to discuss restoration efforts of the historic building.

Fernanda Vanetta, grant writer for the city of Colusa, said because City Hall symbolizes the strength of the community, preserving the historical landmark would demonstrate the city’s resilience and inspire future generations to carry on the most cherished values of the community: hard work, initiative and civic engagement.

“As the city of Colusa faces an exceptional drought and the effects of a global pandemic, necessary inspiration can be found by respecting what those before us have accomplished,” said Vanetta. “One of the many things we are rightfully proud of is our historical buildings – shining examples of what our community can accomplish.”

Vanetta said the building currently used as City Hall – which was first inaugurated as the Colusa Grammar School in April 1918 – is a powerful example of the potential of Colusa and its residents.

“At the time, this was the country’s most technologically advanced school building,” said Vanetta. “It is now one of Central California’s last remaining pre-World War I buildings in the Gothic Revival architectural style.”

According to city archives, the Tudor Gothic Revival building was designed by Williams H. Weeks and features a ruffled red brick exterior lavishly ornamented with terra cotta.

“The corridor system for the first floor is one of the earliest examples in the Sacramento Valley of poured-in-place, refined concrete,” according to archives.

As the number of students in Colusa grew due to rapid immigration, the proposal to build the current building was made in 1916 to replace the Webster Public School. The funding needed to build the structure – $65,000 – was passed with a bond measure the same year, according to archives. Two additional bonds totalling $85,000 were also reported to be available in 1917 by the city clerk.

Construction began in March 1917 and, after completion the following year, a dedication ceremony was held on April 9, 1918, to open the school and welcome the first 300 students that attended. According to archives, the first day of classes were held April 11, 1918.

“The city of Colusa City Hall can once again be an iconic landmark and a center of community life in Colusa,” said Vanetta. “Because of its overwhelming significance, it is imperative to save this American treasure.”

To acquire the money needed for restoration efforts to take place, the city plans to apply for a “Save America’s Treasures” grant. This grant, which is administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, offers between $125,000 and $750,000 in funding for projects that focus on historic building preservation.

Criteria considered for projects to be selected for the grant include national significance, severity of threat to historic property, how effectively the project mitigates the threat and project feasibility.

“While the city’s project to restore City Hall easily qualifies based on the above-listed criteria, another aspect of this grant is the requirement of a 1:1 match,” said Vanetta.

To get these matching funds, the city is offering sponsorship opportunities on a variety of levels ranging from Steward ($100-$249) to Foundation (more than $1,000).

“Larger sponsorship opportunities are available, and range from Trustee Sponsorship, with naming rights of the auditorium, as well as Presenting Sponsor, with naming rights to the stage,” said Vanetta. “These opportunities are open and welcome from individuals, families, or corporations that are looking to preserve historic buildings.”

To discuss these options further and provide additional information about the “Save America’s Treasures” grant, city officials will be hosting an open house at City Hall next week. The open house will take place at Colusa City Hall, 425 Webster St., in Colusa on Nov. 30 from 5-7 p.m.

According to city officials, tours of the building’s historic auditorium will be offered and beverages and light refreshments will be served.

“We invite you to join us as we work to preserve this beautiful piece of Colusa’s legacy,” read a statement from city officials.

A book entitled, “If the walls could talk: Colusa’s architectural heritage,” which features the Colusa Grammar School, was recently published by the Colusa Heritage Preservation Committee. Copies of the book can be purchased at City Hall and Davison Drugs, 640 Market St., in Colusa. There will also be copies of the book available during the open house.

For more information or to become a sponsor, call 407-466-8937 or email grants@cityofcolusa.com.

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