Heritage Center


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The Heritage Center Building

"The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty. History, by apprising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future."

Thomas Jefferson

Noting the lack of opportunity for visitors to the Capitol to learn about Washington's vivid and varied history, then Secretary of State Sam Reed and Senator Karen Fraser proposed the Heritage Center as a home to the State Archives and the State Library, to make accessible Washington’s history to the citizens of this great state. The Heritage Center would hold the treasured records and publications of the state and offer exhibits and educational programs based on the collections of the State Archives and State Library. The Washington State Heritage Center was formally created in 2007 by the Washington State Legislature to provide an unparalleled visitor experience on the State Capitol Campus.

With the new home for the State Library and the State Archives, innovative exhibits telling the stories of Washington through the eyes of the people who have made history; and an active learning center geared to children and students, the Heritage Center will be a hub of heritage resources for both visitors and researchers.

Today, the activities of the Heritage Center include the ongoing programs of the State Library and State Archives, exhibits in the Legislative Building, the Heritage Center website with many connections to resources about Washington, and through the Legacy Project's oral histories and biographies of people of Washington who have moved history forward.

The Washington State Heritage Center building remains on hold due to economic downturns and State budget woes. Meanwhile the need for the building, a future home for the State Library and Archives increases with the State Archives rapidly running out of space to store the state's valuable documents and history and the State Library in inadequate facilities for their mission. "As the economy improves, we remain optimistic that our Legislature will move forward with a new home on the Capitol campus for our Library and Archives for the benefit of our state's documented history, Capitol visitors and for all of the citizens of the state of Washington," Secretary of State Kim Wyman says.

Features of the Heritage Center

The Heritage Center Today: Although the building is not yet constructed, the Heritage Center is alive and active through the ongoing programs of the State Archives and State Library, exhibits in the Legislative Building and elsewhere, the publication of oral histories and biographies by the Legacy Project, programs such as author talks with the State Library, family genealogy workshops with the State Archives and State Library, and a vibrant website with many historical resources accessible in one location. Check out the links below for more details.

Archives: Valuable historical documents, including the original Washington State Constitution, maps, photos, and records from Washington's entire history are preserved and made available to researchers at the State Archives.

State Library: The Library offers an extensive collection of books and publications relating to Washington State, including all the pioneer newspapers, the original collection of books brought to the Washington Territory by Territorial Governor, Isaac Stevens, and thousands of resources in the Family Genealogy Research Center. All these are available, many online, to researchers and the general public.

Exhibits: Exhibits will feature stories of the people and events that have made Washington what it is today. From stories of the first peoples in the state, through Territorial times, Statehood and the phenomenal growth of Washington into a multicultural society and a hub for technological, agricultural, and industrial innovation will be told through the lives of the people who made our state great.

Education: Activities for children and youth designed to make Washington's heritage come alive will be focused at the Heritage Center. In addition, programs sponsored by the Library, Archives and historical organizations will be held to appeal to visitors of all ages.

Visitor Services: The Heritage Center will include a small café, a Gift Shop, and an extensive Reading and Research Room where visitors can access the resources of both the Archives and the Library in one location.


Secretary of State's Office: The Washington State Heritage Center is part of the Office of the Secretary of State Kim Wyman. The Secretary of State also oversees the State Archives, the State Library, the Legacy Project and is responsible for collecting and preserving the historical records of the state, and making those records accessible.

In this capacity the Secretary of State is involved with the overall preservation of our state's history and making that history available to the people of the state and beyond.

In 2007, then Secretary of State Sam Reed conceived the Heritage Center as a home, on the State Capitol Campus, where the heritage of our state and the stories of our people can be accessed in person or virtually through the Heritage Center Network.

Current Secretary of State Kim Wyman continues to champion the Heritage Center because the state is obligated to educate and make history accessible. This is public service at its most important. Researchers, school groups, families and visitors to the Capitol from around the state and the world deserve the opportunity to experience and learn Washington history and heritage at the State Library, State Archives and through education programs and exhibits.

Washington State Heritage Center Trust: The Washington State Heritage Center Trust was formed in August 2008 and is a non-profit organization registered with the State of Washington. The Trust received its 501 (c) (3) status from the Federal Government in May 2009, making gifts to the Heritage Center Trust tax deductible under regulations of the Internal Revenue Service.

The Trust is governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees that ensures that all gifts to the Trust are used to support the Heritage Center and its programs as the donor intends.

Board of Trustees members:
  • Alex McGregor, Trust Chair
    President, The McGregor Company
  • Justice Gerry Alexander,
    Trust Vice-Chair, Bean, Gentry, Wheeler & Peternell, PLLC
  • Lori Drummond, Trust Treasurer
    President and CEO, Olympia Federal Savings
  • Jan Ames
    Former director of the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library
  • Catherine Brazil
    Director of Public Affairs, Cowles Company
  • Patrick Dunn
    Patrick Dunn & Associates
  • Stu Halsan,
    Law Office of Stuart A. Halsan
  • Jerri Honeyford
    Board member, MaryHill Museum and The Washington Trust
  • Patricia Lantz
    Retired State Representative
  • Jan Walsh
    Retired State Librarian
Ex Officio Trustees:
  • Kim Wyman, Secretary of State
  • Ken Raske,
    Assistant Secretary of State
  • Carleen Jackson
    Trust Secretary, Heritage Center Director of Development
  • Rand Simmons
    State Librarian
  • Steve Excell
    State Archivist


December 2004 - Governor Locke includes request for a pre-design in the capital budget.

January 2005 - Governor Gregoire includes the request for pre-design in the capital budget.

April & May 2005 - The Legislature and Governor directs General Administration to undertake a comprehensive pre-design study for a two block area on the north end of the west Capitol Campus to include the Heritage Center (Library and Archives facility) and an Executive Office building.

July & August 2006 - The Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee makes final recommendations and the State Capitol Committee approves a pre-design plan for the north Capitol Campus. The recommended plan includes the demolition of the General Administration Building and the construction of the Heritage Center on the hillside to the west of the General Administration Building.

December 2006 - Governor Gregoire, in her proposed 2007-2009 capital budget, authorized the Secretary of State to construct a Heritage Center and enter into a financing contract for up to copy11 million for the project.

April 2007 - The Washington State House and Senate pass the Heritage Center Funding bill.

May 2007 - Governor Gregoire signs the bill, creating the Washington State Heritage Center.

June 2007 - Plans for $30 million fund raising campaign under way.

June 2007 to February, 2008 - Pre-design studies continue, program planning begins for Heritage Center activities.

January 2008 - Campaign Feasibility Study begins under guidance of state and community leaders.

February 2008 - Bids out for General Contractor/Construction Management (GCCM).

March 2008 - GCCM selected.

June 2008 - Campaign Feasibility Study completed; recommends staged campaign to ultimately raise $30 million for Heritage Center programming.

July 2008 - Heritage Center funding stream based on county recording fees, primarily on real estate transactions, begins.

September 2008 - Recession in real estate market begins to deepen, affecting projected income from Heritage Center funding plan.

September 2008 - Construction cost estimated at copy41 million.

September 2008 through April, 2009 - Building design completed to 80 percent level; program planning for Heritage Center activities continues.

November 2008 - Legacy Project kicks off.

January 2009 to April 2009 - Legislature faces massive revenue downturns for the state, forcing tough budget decisions. Income stream for Heritage Center begins to rebound, but doesn’t meet predictions. Treasurer's Office concerned about sufficient income stream to allow successful financing of the project. Move of GA tenants from the building delayed causing delay in projected construction start date from spring, 2010 to, at best, 2012.

February 2009 – Legacy Project rolls out first biographies/oral histories of Justice Charles Z. Smith, Adele Ferguson and Krist Novoselic.

April 2009 - Legislature adjourns, placing a hold on the Heritage Center Project to allow time for revenue stream to fully rebound and requiring the alternate sites and a reduced project be considered in order to assure revenue can support costs.

June 2009 - Heritage Center team and architects begin review of alternate sites and money-saving tactics for the Center.

June 2009 – Legacy Project presents biographies/oral histories of Justice Carolyn Dimmick and Robert Utter.

July 2009 - Heritage Center revenue rebounds and for the first time exceeds predicted monthly goal.

August 2009 – Legacy Project rolls out 6th biography/oral history, this time for Lillian Walker, Civil Rights Pioneer.

September 2009 - Revised Heritage Center concept presented to Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee (CCDAC).

September 2009 – Two more Legacy Project biographies/oral histories are released, former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar and former Washington First Lady, Nancy Bell Evans.

November 2009 - CCDAC meets to review progress on recommendations and makes final recommendation to SCC.

December 2009 - SCC makes final recommendation on site, design and funding to Legislature.

January 2010 – Heritage Center presents “Moving Forward, Looking Back: Washington’s First Women in Government” exhibit in the lobby of the Secretary of State’s Office. Exhibit is on display through December 2010 in celebration of Washington’s Women’s Suffrage Centennial Year.

January 2010 – Over 100 people attend “The Ruddell Riddle: A Family Genealogy Workshop” sponsored by the Heritage Center, the State Library and State Archives.

February 2010 – Legacy Project presents biography of the late Washington Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn.

March 2010 – Legacy Project launches its first book, Nancy Evans: First Rate First Lady in a soft bound edition available through the State Seal Store.

March 2010 – The Heritage Center and the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library present the “Louis Braille’s 200th Birthday” exhibit in the Legislative Building honoring the development of the Braille system for the blind.

March 2010 – Washington State Supreme Court and the Heritage Center present “Washington’s First Women in Law” exhibit in the Temple of Justice.

March 2010 – The Heritage Center and the Washington State Library present a talk by Shanna Stevenson on her book, Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices.

April 2010 – Legislature adjourns special session without authorizing construction of the Heritage Center Building. Will consider Heritage Center construction in the January 2011 session.

June 2010 – Legacy Project launches its second book, Booth Who? A Biography of Governor Booth Gardner.

October 2010 – Legacy Project launches its third book, Lillian Walker Washington Civil Rights Pioneer.

April, 2011-March, 2012 - Exhibit: Young Man in a Hurry: The Life of Isaac Stevens and the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War

June, 2011 – Legislature takes no action on moving the Heritage Center building forward. The project remains on hold.

November, 2011 – Legacy Project launches its sixth book, Slade Gorton: A Half Century in Politics.

April 24, 2012-June, 2013 – Exhibit: “WE’RE STILL HERE” The Survival of Washington Indians.

June, 2012 – Legacy Project launches its seventh book, Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr.

January, 2013 – The Legacy Project presents its eighth book, A Woman First: The Impact of Jennifer Dunn.

February, 2013 – Across the Aisle: Sid Snyder’s Remarkable Life in Groceries & Government, an oral history and biography is published in cooperation with the Legislative Oral History Project, entirely funded by private donations.

February, 2013 – The Legacy Project releases its tenth printed book, John Spellman: Politics Never Broke His Heart


July, 2013 – Quilts of Valor display in the Secretary of State’s office lobby, honoring the volunteers who create quilts to give to wounded and returning soldiers in honor of their service.