'Hope in Hard Times' exhibit opens Jan. 17 in Walla Walla

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 9, 2014 

The Great Depression had a profound effect on people living in Washington that has been chronicled in an exhibition titled Hope in Hard Times: Washington During the Great Depression.

The exhibit opens Jan. 17 at the Kirkman House Museum in Walla Walla and explores the adversity and triumph of everyday Americans during the 1930s, comparing the struggles of that era to those facing many people today.

"Many citizens took to the streets in protest, joining fellow activists and political movements to rally for solutions to economic crisis," said Tim Copeland, a spokesman for the Kirkman House. "Throughout the state, other Washingtonians made it through tough times by making the best of what they had, recycling and rescuing everyday items while looking ahead at the promise of better days."

Hope in Hard Times, a multi-sponsored exhibition that includes Humanities Washington and the Washington State Historical Society, features photo essays and historical documents on life around the state.

The Great Depression plundered the world's economic status, with the United States being dealt the blow in 1929, when Wall Street crashed. For the following decade, the country wallowed in high unemployment, poverty, deflation and plunging farm incomes.

During that time, the suicide rate soared, and many Americans did what they could to survive.

While most textbooks, documentaries and movies about the Depression are focused more on bigger cities or the farmers in the heartland, Hope in Hard Times opens a door to the past specifically for Washingtonians to learn how devastating life was in their home state.

The Kirkman House Museum is at 214 N. Colville St., Walla Walla, in a historic home built in the latter part of the 1800s by the Kirkman ranching family.

The house, which is the only home in the area that was built in the Victorian/Italian style, has had an interesting history. It was an apartment house for about 50 years, with one of its tenants being Walter Brattain, the 1956 Nobel Prize winner for his co-invention of the transistor, and it also served as a boys dormitory for those attending Whitman College from 1920-24.

In the 1950s, the Northern Pacific railroad started a rescue operation to save the house from ruin, and in 1974 it was listed on the National Historic Home Register. It's been run as a nonprofit museum since 1981.

The museum's winter hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, though the museum is closed for winter maintenance through Jan. 16. It reopens Jan. 17, and the exhibit continues through early April. Beginning March 1, hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Admission is $5 per person or $20 for families. For more information about the Hope in Hard Times exhibition, go to www.kirkmanhousemuseum.org or call 509-529-4373.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service