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Archiving Prineville’s history

Bowman Museum was recently awarded the coveted Heritage Project of the Year award by the Central Oregon Association of Realtors

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Crook County History Center was one of nine projects in Central Oregon that won the Heritage Project of the Year award this year

Bowman Museum has always been a source of pride for Prineville, but in November 2012, the rest of Central Oregon also recognized its value.
   For more than 25 years, the Central Oregon Association of Realtors (COAR) has been recognizing outstanding building projects in Central Oregon. Nine projects throughout Central Oregon won awards.
   Dan Heater, Communication Coordinator with COAR, said, “We spend several months fielding nominations from other realtors, project developers, and the public. We then analyze them according to our mission and go view and vote on which ones deserve an award according to that set of criteria. There is no competition so to speak. If the committee deems the project deserving, then we recognize them with an award.”
   The Bowman Museum expansion building named Crook County History Center was the recipient of the Heritage Project of the Year award in November. This isn’t the first time a Prineville business has won a COAR award.
   “There have been several given in Prineville over the years. Last year, the COCC campus in Prineville was recognized and in a previous year, the Simmons Realty,” Heater said.
   Gordon Gillespie, museum executive director, was not expecting recognition like this.
   “Six or eight people affiliated with that realty association (COAR) came over,” he said.
   Gillespie took the committee on a tour and answered a few questions for them.
   “Then, I got a letter saying that we had won this award,” he said.
   Not only was he not expecting an award for the project, he was surprised by the large turnout at the awards ceremony.
   The awards ceremony was held the evening of Nov. 1, at the Oxford Hotel in Bend, where 60 to 80 realtors and award winners celebrated the award-winning projects.
   The Bowman Museum was awarded a table-top display that included a certificate in the center surrounded by photos of the project.
   The History Center building project was well-thought out and included many goals. The Crook County Historical Society was responsible for coordinating the project. They wanted to provide a public use meeting room for the community that blended with the structure of the museum.
   This venue would also lend itself to community education programs and provide educational opportunities for local schools. It would provide opportunities for local input into the exhibit and facility development.
   It was a plan that they hoped would become a focal point and invigorate the downtown business landscape, and as much as possible, local materials, products, and services were used.
   Another major goal was to draw in people from other areas to enjoy, not only the building and the rich and diverse history of Crook County, but to also visit and patronize other establishments in Prineville, as well.
   According to Gillespie, since the building was completed, the History Center has had several visits by local schools, some as far away as Bend. Numerous public functions have been held in the new community room and it has become a popular venue for events.
   Like most building projects, there were unexpected obstacles to overcome, such as buried fuel tanks, asbestos, and sewer connection problems, but nothing daunted museum staff, the historical society, and their supporters from realizing the dream of a new history center for Crook County.