WASHINGTON, IOWA — Members of the Washington community continue to express interest in saving the building that once housed the famed Captain’s Table restaurant. For over a year the Washington Chamber of Commerce has been raising money to purchase and renovate the property to be used as an information hub for the services provided by the Chamber and Main Street Washington. The estimated cost to do so is between $1.5 and $2 million. To date, $740,000 has been committed and the Chamber is applying for a $750,000 Riverboat Foundation grant which will determine whether the project will go forward, according to Chamber Director Michelle Redlinger.
Most recently, Dave Stoufer and Rachel Nicola committed $100,000 to the project. Joe and Marde McConnell committed another $10,000. The Washington Iowa Betterment Foundation committed $30,000. Earlier, the City of Washington backed the project with a contribution of $500,000 which will not result in any increase in city taxes. The Chamber is also committing $100,000 to the project and Main Street Washington is contributing architectural services.
No professional fundraiser has been hired to raise money to save the building. Redlinger has been talking to individuals who have contacted her with interests in the effort during the past 18 months. Fundraising was hampered due to the pandemic and its effect on contributors, especially the Riverboat Foundation. If the Foundation grant is approved, the new welcome center would serve as a regional facility to welcome visitors to Washington County and provide them with information about sites and activities throughout the area. It would also house the staffs of the Chamber and Main Street Washington and serve other community purposes. If the grant is not approved, the funding gap to renovate the building will be too great to move forward. Without action to renovate and repair, the building will continue to deteriorate and there will likely be no other choice than to tear it down.
Redlinger said saving the house would replace an eyesore with an inviting welcome site to visitors on a highly trafficked area. And it would enable the community to preserve an historic structure, she said.
Redlinger said she wants the project to be a local renovation project financed with local contributions and support to cut down on the red tape and conditions that go with grants from non-local sources and to build a sense of local pride. The Chamber intends to renovate the building using as many local contractors as possible. Anyone interested in saving the building is encouraged to contact Redlinger at [email protected]
For questions, please contact Michelle Redlinger, Washington Chamber of Commerce Director at [email protected]