During the September 19, 2022 Council meeting, Springfield Mayor Sean VanGordon handed out the first-ever Springfield Heritage Awards.

The awards, developed by the Springfield Historic Commission and the Springfield History Museum, recognize a broad array of stewardship activities that increase awareness, appreciation, and support an inclusive perspective of local heritage.

There are two award categories. The “Preservation Excellence Award” celebrates outstanding projects of many types including historic preservation, historical research, and community outreach. The “History Maker Award” celebrates a person or entity that demonstrates leadership in shaping, preserving, and fostering appreciation of local heritage – past, present, and future.

Nominations from the community included 19 different proposals. The winners of the awards are:


History Maker Award

  1. Dottie Chase

This year, 2022, marks the 20th Anniversary of the Emerald Empire Art Association (EEAA) becoming a non-profit 501(c)3 visual arts organization and their grand opening of the Emerald Art Center’s home on the corner of 5th and Main. Dottie Chase has been on the Board of Directors for the EEAA for more than four decades. Her expertise in fundraising, community relations, business management, and special events has endeared many community leaders to support the Art Center. Dottie continues to embody the Emerald Art Center’s mission to “provide an opportunity for all who desire to create art and exhibit their work by cultivating a vibrant art community through education, outreach and partnerships.”


  1. Kalapuya Talking Stones

Citizen Planning Committee for the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park (CPC)

Esther Stutzman

Kommema Cultural Protection Association

Lisa Ponder and Mark Andrew

Willamalane Park and Recreation District

City of Eugene Parks and Open Space

The Kalapuya Talking Stones were designed as educational and cultural reference points, as well as beautiful art objects. There are currently 15 basalt boulders in the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park; five are located in the 46 acres of the park in Springfield. The word “Whilamut (pronounced “wheel-a-moot”) means “where the river ripples and runs fast.” Some linguists theorize that the name “Willamette” may have derived from this Kalapuya word. Before the Talking Stones, the Kalapuya heritage was largely hidden. The purpose of the Talking Stones project was to revive Kalapuya language and honor indigenous culture. In 2003, the first 11 Talking Stones were placed to honor traditional Kalapuya stewardship of the land. In 2011, four additional Talking Stones were placed, sponsored by the Oregon Department of Transportation as mitigation for using the park land for the construction of the Willamette I-5 bridge. The Talking Stones Project is ongoing. The CPC and people from the Native community have been approached about expanding the Talking Stone project at educational institutions, at other parks, or on private property.


Preservation Excellence Award

  1. 745 C St – Selah Meyer, nominator

This home was built in 1910, with materials and craftsmanship from that era. As a first-time homeowner with a family history of restoring and appreciating historic homes, the owners wanted this house to stand for another 110 years by using materials from 2020 to showcase the quality of the historic materials from 1910. Restoration was the first priority and the enduring theme for the duration of the project.  The aim was to maximize the use of original materials, thereby paying homage and respecting the fact that most, if not all, the wood that is found in this home was milled in the forest around Springfield and taken by railroad to be milled in Springfield. Every decision was made to show respect and deference to the history, high quality materials and heritage of this home and neighborhood. The style, workmanship, and quality of a homebuilt over 100 years ago cannot be replicated, but it can be brought back to life with purposeful craftsmanship and an eye for respecting the past and the heritage of a home and its history. The result is a house that looks like it was just built in 1910, with the structure and inner workings to be a safe and structurally sound home for the next 110 years.


  1. Chamber of Commerce – Vonnie Mikkelsen, nominator

The Springfield Chamber of Commerce worked with local businesses and community partners to complete interior spatial improvements and technology upgrades to the Springfield Business and Visitors Center at the historic Depot. These modest but impactful improvements to the interior space were completed by the business community for the community, in honor of the building’s heritage and preserving our community’s quality of place assets. They exemplify the spirit of revitalization of Downtown, uplifting the building’s presence both as a cultural asset to the city and as home to the Chamber. The final product culminated in a $100,000 investment in building interior improvements, new equipment, and user amenities.


  1. Laurel Grove Cemetery Revitalization – John Davis, nominator

Over the past 10-plus years, the Laurel Grove Cemetery board members and volunteers from the community including members of the Springfield Rotary have been maintaining the grounds of the Cemetery. For much of its existence the cemetery was not cared for at all. The land was allowed to become wild and may grave sites and markers were lost. The Board has worked diligently to right these wrongs through proper maintenance and comprehensive research and documentation of the cemetery’s history. Through this revitalization work we can celebrate the important history of the resting place of the founders of Springfield, preserve monuments, increase accessibility and community awareness of the importance of this site.

For additional information, contact Community Development Division Senior Planner Tom Sievers, 541.726.2333 or tsievers@springfield-or.gov