Historic preservation is more than just a labor of love. It's a life changing experience. An incredible, yet arduous journey one embraces out of the sheer passion to save a structural piece of history. There's a new effort launching to perserve and celebrate a historic Ritzville, Washington building that's unfolding as one determined owner is crafting a plan to breathe a new life into their property.
Brenda Owens is embarking on an ambitious effort to preserve a 120-year-old building, to ensure this rural wheat country marvel thrives for another 100 years.
Her desire to restore the building started in June when she and other local business owners met commercial real estate developer Rory Turner, who was brought to Ritzville by Adams County Economic Development Director Stephen McFadden.
Turner, who has revitalized historical building in Ellensburg and Wenatchee, conducted a walkthrough of the structures in Ritzville, and provided insight and ideas to restore the buildings. he explained that restoring the buildings would be a way to entice travelers on Interstate 90 to drive into downtown Ritzville.
The H.E. Gritman Building is a flagship example of the architecturally impressive brick buildings that line Ritzville's Main Avenue. Constructed in 1902 by Harry Emmet Gritman, the 50x90 two-story behemoth stands at the corner of Main Avenue and Washington Street, its turret and flagstaff serving as sentinels from a different era.
Much work lies ahead. From masonry restoration and repair work, to the removal and replacement of the second-story windows. The exterior task list will present plenty of challenges. In the summer of 2019, plywood was removed from 27 windows for the first time in 40 years. Interestingly, pieces of remaining Mt. St. Helen's ash were still present behind the plywood. The first of these 27 windows are currently in a shop being restored to their original glory.
A plan is being formulated and a path forward will soon be shared. Until then, if you want to ask questions, offer assistance, volunteer or donate to the building, you can contact Brenda at H.E.Gritman@gmail.com.
120 & 118 & 118 1/2 West Main Ave.
Ritzville, Washington 99169
H.E.Gritman@gmail.com | TEL.(509) 850-7371