Written by Leah Suhrstedt
What do web-based virtual exhibitions, an iron furnace, and historic windows have in common? Projects related to all three were funded with grants from the Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors this year. These two funds of the National Trust for Historic Preservation award grants on an annual basis and fund a diverse array of projects throughout the country, and grant recipients often find that these funds open the door to many other opportunities.
In 2005, the Heart Mountain Foundation of Wyoming received a $2,500 matching grant from the Favrot fund to conduct a conditions assessment of Heart Mountain’s original campsite and the original buildings that remain on the property of this former Japanese-American internment camp. Constructed in 1942, the camp, which is located in Powell, Wyoming, housed more than 10,000 internees over the course of three years. Heart Mountain is rare among internment camps built during World War II because many of the original buildings are still standing, providing a unique opportunity to interpret this difficult chapter in our nation’s past.
Using Favrot funds, the Heart Mountain Foundation worked in cooperation with the US Bureau of Reclamation in Mills, Wyoming and the National Park Service to produce a "Treatment Plan and Cost Estimate" for the remaining standing buildings at the Heart Mountain relocation site.
Since the study done through Favrot funds was completed, progress has continued to be made at the site. In the spring of 2007, Heart Mountain was designated a National Historic Landmark. Currently, legislation is pending in Congress that would allow for a study of the site to see if it would be appropriate to make it a unit of the National Park Service.
The Heart Mountain site aims to memorialize and to educate the public about the significance of the historical events surrounding this tragic event. Hopefully, by studying difficult pasts such as this one, we can prevent such atrocities in the future while also learning about the people who were interred there and the lives they were able to create for themselves. While at Heart Mountain, internees set up systems for democratic governance, health care, education, farming, and community services. Amazingly, more than 750 internees served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II (some volunteering to serve while interred in the camp), and 85 internees resisted the draft and were imprisoned.
Currently, there are only two former internment camps that have been recognized as National Historic Sites by the NPS: Idaho’s Minidoka National Historic Site (included on our 2007 11 Most Endangered List) and California’s Manazar National Historic Site.
The Favrot Fund was established in 1994 in honor of the 80th birthday of Johanna Favrot, and grants can be used for professional advice, conferences, workshops and education programs relating to historic preservation. Favrot grants provide anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 to nonprofit organizations and public agencies for projects that contribute to the preservation or the recapture of an authentic sense of place.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors grants are also awarded at the same time as the Favrot fund. Established by a generous gift in 1997 from George P. Mitchell in honor of his wife, Mitchell funds provide nonprofit organizations and public agencies grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to assist in the preservation, restoration, and interpretation of historic interiors. You can read about an amazing - and Webby-award winning - Mitchell funded project at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House on our Historic Sites blog.
Recipients of this year’s Favrot and Mitchell Fund grants were recently announced, and you can read about those winners here. This year, the Favrot Fund awarded $80,000 and the Mitchell Fund awarded more than $138,000 in grants.
Leah Suhrstedt is the grants and awards coordinator for the Center for Preservation Leadership at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.