Mother Joseph, a woman who could handle “a hammer and saw as well as her father,” supervised the construction of the building and during its early life it served as the headquarters and home for the Sisters of Providence, functioned as an orphanage, and later as a school which continued to operate until 1966.
The Hidden Brick Company, founded by Lowell Hidden, supplied the bricks for the charming colonial-style brick building, and almost 100 years later – in 1969 – the Hidden family purchased The Academy. Robert Hidden, grandson of Lowell Hidden, and Robert’s sons Bill, Oliver and Monte participated in the purchase of the Academy.
The Hiddens made repairs to the building in order to house office space for 60-plus businesses, offered the chapel for weddings, and allowed event and meeting space. This was done with minimal renovation that kept the essence of the structure intact but left the building with a last century feel and a few quirks.
The Fort Vancouver National Trust today announced a $16 Million Capital Campaign to purchase and restore the historic Academy building and grounds. As new owners of the building, the Fort Vancouver National Trust will have access to resources not normally afforded a for-profit business, namely experience with historic sites, broad community support and most importantly fund raising expertise.
The mission for the Trust’s current 366-acre campus, the Fort Vancouver National Site, is to preserve it as a premier historic destination. The Academy will benefit from the collective effort as it is folded into the Trust’s master plan.
“There is arguably no more important historic structure in the region. The connection between the Fort Vancouver National Site, Mother Joseph and the Academy is deeply intertwined,” said Elson Strahan, CEO and President of the Trust. “As the third and final owner of the Academy, the Trust will continue the stewardship of the property and keep alive the story and history of Mother Joseph.”
When completed it is said that The Academy was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Today, it is dwarfed by structures on both sides of the Mississippi but remains a stalwart piece of architecture snugged up tight against Interstate 5.
400 E. Evergreen Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98660