PRESERVING THE PAST
By Allyson Marrs
Every place has a beginning. The Eastside has its own story to tell, its own pictures to share and its own history to study. From Bellevue to Medina, the Eastside has grown quickly during the last century, and one organization is looking back to where it all began.
The Eastside Heritage Center ( "Connections for yesterday, today and tomorrow") was established in 2001, with the merger of the Bellevue Historical Society and the Marymoor Museum of Eastside History, after Marymoor's museum was forced to close its doors.
Although EHC does not currently have a destination museum, their hope is to grow into one to make their collection more accessible.
For now, EHC is your destination for information, educational services and public programs, all relating to the Eastside and its origin. Temporary exhibits are sprinkled throughout the area and are constantly changing.
The collection is 35,000 pieces strong, but most objects sit in storage, waiting for their turn to be featured in an exhibit.
But it doesn't take a large location to have an effect, as EHC is proving through special programs. The organization rents out Treasure Boxes—tools, materials and information, about historic mining, for example—to groups, such as schools or senior homes.
EHC and its volunteers also work to organize hands-on projects for kids to teach them about local history. In 2005, one of these activities involved showing children a blacksmithing tool that stripped kernels off dried corn. It's a way to relive history in an educational environment.
Currently, there are two EHC offices in two historic Bellevue houses: the McDowell House and the Winters House.
The McDowell House is home to the Curatorial Education and Management staff, so those looking for a particular item—a special piece of history—should make an appointment here.
The Winters House is a designated site on the National Register of Historic Places, the only public building in Bellevue with this honor, and is open to visitors Tuesdays, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Thursdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Here, docents will lead guests through the restored home and offer background on the building and its setting. Although admission to the house is free, donations are appreciated.
For more information about EHC, to volunteer, to coordinate a school program or to donate, visit www.eastsideheritagecenter.com or call 425.450.1049. The website is also the most up-to-date venue to learn where current and upcoming exhibits will be held, and which items will be displayed.
Until EHC find its home, Eastside businesses will act as its gracious hosts.
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