In 1984 the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation was formed as the Walla Walla Main Street Foundation
The Foundation hired its first executive director, Dwight Van Fleet and he stayed until December of 1988. The Foundation and the Italian Heritage Association sponsored their first Italian Heritage Festa.
The Foundation worked with ten local banks to establish a $350,000 low interest façade loan program. It was also the first year of the Summer Concert series on Friday afternoons.
The first Main Street May Fair was held in conjunction with the Balloon Stampede. Main Street Banners were installed and the Foundation completed the “Walla Walla Redevelopment Plan”. Jacobi’s restaurant (the Northern Pacific Train Depot) was renovated as was the Snyder Crecilius building.
Karen Waltz was hired as executive director from July to November. The Foundation hosted the first Multicultural Heritage Festival. The initial work began on the Local Improvement District (LID). Bruce Buchanan was hired as director in December of 1989 and remained in that position until December of 1993. Pioneer Title was renovated in that year as well.
The general Obligation Bond failed and the worked continued on developing the LID. The Center for Sharing was renovated, Crawford Park was completed and the Downtown Trick or Treat was restarted.
The Liberty Theater was restored and the Bon Marche expanded. City Council approved the LID, contracts were awarded and construction began. The Fireman Statue was erected at Crawford Park and the initial effort began to recruit the Corps of Engineers into the downtown.
The name was change to the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation. The streetscape improvements were completed. A new addition was added to the First Congregational Church, the Harold building was renovated and the Foundation cosponsored the first annual Jingle Bell Run with the United Way. The DWWF was accepted as a partner Level Program with the State Main Street Program.
The Heritage Square Park was completed and the first of many street dances occurred. The “Out to Lunch” afternoon concert series began. The Walla Walla Hotel was renovated and converted to second floor apartments. The Foundation started Walla Walla Village and Ornament series.
The Foundation sponsors the first Walla Walla wide screen and the Whitehouse Crawford building was restored. Walla Walla was named a GAMSA semifinalist for the second year. The Foundation worked with the County to improve the design of the new justice building.
The first “Taste of Walla Walla happened and the Living Tree was planted. The newly restored Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center opened and the Foundation hosted the State Downtown Revitalization Conference at the hotel. Walla Walla Foundation won the Great American Main Street Award and three new bronze statues were installed downtown.
Wheelin’ Walla Walla spun off to own group and the Foundation cosponsors ArtWalla. Two more pieces of public art were added to the downtown. Walla Walla was named Sunset magazine’s “Best Main Street in the West”. The CLG ordinance and the zero setback ordinances were passed. The initial work with the Planning Commission on downtown development guidelines was begun. Diagonal parking was extended on Main Street from Palouse to Issacs. The Denny building, the Naimy building and the Drumheller building were restored. The DWWF introduced the new Downtown Walla Walla Visa.
The initial funding and organizational effort for a new 20-year downtown Master Plan was started. Three additional pieces of public art were installed as part of the Blue Mountain Arts Alliance ArtWalla project. Taste Walla Walla moved to the Court House lawn. A new cover was installed over the Crawford Park stage. Walla Walla successfully retained the Bon Marche remaining in the downtown. The first phase of the Main Street sewer and water replacement initiative was completed.
The new 20-year Downtown Master Plan was adopted and the second phase of the Main Street sewer and water replacement work was completed. The Downtown Endowment fund was started with an initial gift of $100.
Great American Main Street Award –semi-finalist -- National Trust for Historic Preservation
The Great American Main Street Award - National Trust for Historic Preservation
Arbor Day Award- Washington Arbor Day Council
Best Main Street in the West - Sunset magazine
Distinctive Destination - National Trust for Historic Preservation
Best Economic Restructuring Story – Department of Community Trade and Economic development
Excellence in Downtown Revitalization Award – National Trust for Historic Preservation
Friendliest Small Town in the U.S.- Rand McNally/ USA Today
Top Ten Great Neighborhood – American Planning Association
Excellence on Main Award for Downtown Walla Walla Residential Guidelines – Washington State Main Street
The Governor’s Smart Communities Award – Washington State