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Historical Commission sinks mural gift to city –
Wolf Bldg. owner may withdraw from Historic Register

Steve Craig’s Wolf Bldg. proposed mural
Mural drawing courtesy: Steve Craig

The Yelm Historic Commission held a special meeting at 4 pm today to discuss whether Wolf building owner Steve Craig should be granted a ‘certificate of appropriateness’ for the proposed mural on his building’s wall. Gary Carlson, the citys building official and staff to the historic commission, announced that while the meeting was open to the public, no public comment was allowed.

A certificate of appropriateness is necessary for additions or alterations to buildings on the Yelm Historical Register, according to a notice from the city, yet the Historical Commission previously approved the mural for the building. Carlson said this meeting was to decide about the mural’s artistic representation from a mock-up Craig provided of the proposed mural.

– The Yelm Historical Commission did not carry their mandate.
The mandate states their job is in “reviewing proposed changes to register properties.”
The Historical Preservation Commission previously approved a mural to be on the Wolf Building, requesting minor changes to the artwork.
That should have been final.

– The city’s own website says,
“The major responsibility of the historic preservation commission is to identify and actively encourage the conservation of the Yelms historic resources by initiating and maintaining a register of historic places and reviewing proposed changes to register properties; to raise community awareness of the citys history and historic resources, and to serve as the citys primary resource in matters of history, historic planning, and preservation.”

– Infusing the decision with their own personal opinions of the artistry is NOT within their purview.
They ended up tabling the decision to approve or not for another 3 weeks, holding up the optimum time to paint the building during the summer. Craig then withdrew his request to paint the mural and told the Yelm Community Blog he will consider dropping the Wolf Building from the city’s Historical designation and may paint the mural himself without city oversight. He will investigate what is involved to do so. The meeting was a total embarrassment to Craig’s gift to the city and the citizens of Yelm!

Bottom line:
Does the mural add to the building’s character and dignity – the Commission already approved adding the mural, so YES!
The minor disagreements on the artistry, i.e. size of the mountain, the colors, whether a river should be deleted or not are expressions of the artist and not for the Commission to decide.

– The only Historical Commission member in support of the mural’s artwork was Beverly Vines-Haines.
She said, “Murals are stylistic and may not be exact to scale. This is only going to add to our city. I like owners’ rights. I like the idea for this mural and the 7 others proposed [by other Yelm business owners].”

Vines-Haines “got it” and was the only voice of reason in the entire 15 minute meeting!

Editor’s Note:
A Yelm circa 1930’s home on 3rd St. near Gordon’s Grange was set to be purchased and preserved by a local citizen in 2004, only to be sold to another party, who then had it burned to the ground in a fire department exercise in order to build a rental duplex on the lot. The Yelm Historical Commission provided zero support in that case and now they have an issue about the artistry of a mural being painted on the Wolf Building???
Where are this group’s priorities?

UPDATE: August 22, 2014
“Yelm Historic Commission Tables Decision on Mural”
By Steven Wyble in the Nisqually Valley News
Read more

Posted by Steve on August 6, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

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