PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A lodge with historical significance for Portland’s Black community is receiving thousands of dollars in funds to preserve its history.
Billy Webb Elks Lodge #1050 in Portland’s Albina neighborhood received $140,000 from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund – a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The lodge is on the National Register of Historic Places and previously suffered damage from a fire last September.
According to Restore Oregon, the $80 million fund is the largest U.S. resource dedicated to the preservation of African American historic places.
“Funding will allow BWEL to hire its first staff member, a part-time executive director/operations manager for two consecutive years,” said Restore Oregon in a press release. “By hiring an E.D. to manage their historic preservation and business needs they will be in a position to steward the BWEL long-term.”
The nonprofit added it’s one of 33 organizations this year to receive $3 million from the fund to protect and preserve sites representing African American history.
“A new wave of hatred and prejudice has been sweeping America, and it is important now more than ever to preserve sites that can provide essential services and resources to marginalized communities,” said Louis McLemore, exalted ruler of the Billy Webb Elks Lodge. “Though the lodge was born from segregation, our hope is that it can serve the community in the future as a place of racial harmony and unification.”
With a total of $12.4 million, Restore Oregon says the fund has supported 160 places through the National Grant Program since 2017.
“This year’s list further demonstrates the beauty and complexity of African American life, and includes historic sites tied to Black arts, culture, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, sports, medicine, education, religion, and social justice,” the announcement said. “These often-overlooked places hold aspects of history that must be protected — and used to draw inspiration and wisdom for the benefit of all Americans.”