Many traveling through Tenino’s Historic Downtown corridor may have noticed the fruits of the Tenino Façade Grant. Slowly but surely, since 2018 many downtown businesses have received new paint, stone cleaning, repairs and windows. The grant can be used to spruce up the face and visible sides of any buildings in the corridor. The grant requires matching 2:1 funding, but will reimburse businesses up to $1,000 of their expense. So, a $3,000 project may at the end of the day only cost $2,000.
“The facade grant is a wonderful program,” stated Chris Hallett of Edward Jones, who is benefitting from the grant while renovating the Columbia Building. “It encourages businesses to refresh their building. I was a winner of a grant this year for $1,000 but spent over $13,000 cleaning up the front. It was a motivating factor in doing it. I have seen a difference. The downtown business corridor looks better than it has in a long time.”
Hallett’s efforts to renovate has attracted a new business to Tenino, The Shiplap Quilt and Coffeehouse. Shiplap hopes to open sometime in October. The domino effect is encouraging. “I think the best is still to come,” says Hallett. “I’m working on another building project a block away and am excited about the future. Tenino is alive and thriving!”
Tenino City Councilwoman Linda Gotovac has been involved with the Façade Grant since its inception in 2018.
“I went around and dropped off applications to all the businesses in the historic district,” recalls Gotovac. “I called a meeting and we had a good turnout. And they were all happy to participate, but the Eagles building was really in need of a facelift. So, I contacted all the businesses to see if they would be willing to give up their part so that we could give the full $3,000 to the Eagles. They all agreed that they would like to see that building fixed up. So that’s what we did.”
Since then, the grant has grown to $5,000 awarded annually. In addition to the Eagles and the Columbia Building, other buildings that have seen improvements are the Old Tenino Bank which was pressure washed and the trim painted, the Kodiak Room was pressure washed, and the Tenino Antique Mall was painted. Other projects in the works are the Ironworks will be painted, and the Tenino Farm and Feed store will be painted blue, the old hotel will be painted white and the Whitewood Cider Company will be painted red.
“It makes me sad to see a town fall to wreck and ruin,” says Gotovac. “Our mission is to make our town more presentable to visitors and tourists.” Gotovac sees the way forward for Tenino through these small improvements with a big impact. “We want to bring in more sustainable small business, which we are doing with the help of people like Chris Hallett who has the wherewithal to buy a building. I would love for somebody to put in a dinner house. I would love to see a hotel or a motel within a few miles from here.”
Like many Tenino residents Gotovac wants Tenino to retain its small-town charm. “We are going to grow,” she says “but we have to be careful to do it responsibly and not go whole hog. We don’t want to bring in big box stores like Costcos or Walmarts or even Safeway. We’ve got a nice little grocery store. We want businesses that fit the character of the town. The Agricultural Park that is going in is going to be fabulous. I can’t wait for them to start building. These really are exciting times in Tenino.”
Gotovac has lived in Tenino since 2002 but her roots here go much deeper. “I started coming here and spending the summers with my cousins when I was old enough to leave my parents for a couple months,” she recalls. “This was 1948 to 1958. I wanted to live here, but my dad would never live here. My Mom was born and raised here and I moved back after my husband died and I love it. I love this town.”
The Façade Grant and serving on the Tenino City Council is just one of the ways Linda Gotovac has pitched in around Tenino. “I love to volunteer,” says Gotovac. “I love seeing things happen.”
Gotovac is the secretary of the Tenino Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the Tenino Lions Club, and the South Thurston County Historical Society. She also runs the Christmas Auction every year at the Eagles club and heads the auction committee for Slash Bash. She is also, as Mayor pro tem, involved at City Hall. But Gotovac believes that volunteering makes her a better council person.
“You can’t just be a council person and go to a meeting every two weeks and make informed decisions.”
To learn more about the Façade Improvement Grant visit the City of Tenino website.