The historic towns of Prosser and Walla Walla continue to revitalize their downtowns, and leaders in each community will receive Washington Main Street Program awards today in Chelan.
Prosser received acclaim for its new town clock, while Walla Walla winemaker Charles Smith will be recognized after transforming an old auto repair shop into an upscale tasting room.
"I wish they came with cash, but unfortunately, they don't," said Sarah Hansen, coordinator of the Washington Main Street awards.
More than 30 applications were judged on behalf of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. The awards will be presented during a reception at RevitalizeWA, the state's Preservation and Main Street Conference.
"Each award is equal to the others. There is no grand prize," Hansen said.
Prosser's award is for Outstanding Special Project, which led to the creation last year of the new, but historic-looking clock, at the corner of Sixth Street and Meade Avenue.
The Historic Downtown Prosser Association organized a bachelor auction -- a sassy, Chippendales-style event (without stripping or suggestive moves) -- to help come up with half of the $10,000 needed.
"We raised about $5,000 net, and a private contributor matched it so we were able to have it installed by Sept.13," said Alisa Groenen, executive director of the Prosser association.
In Walla Walla, Charles Smith Wines World Headquarters earned the Outstanding Design or Rehabilitation Project. Smith purchased the derelict Johnson Auto Electric Building on Spokane Street in 2010 and hired Olson Kundig Architects of Seattle to renovate it.
Workers stripped down the building to brick walls, exposed beams and the original concrete floor. Skylights were installed, and the original garage doors were replaced by steel and glass versions.
"When opened, the doors serve as a canopy over the sidewalk seating area for the tasting room," said Jennifer Northam, events and public relations manager for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.
"What they've done is beyond amazing in the use of space and the saving of a building," Northam added.
"It's re-energized the entire block. Now, businesses on either side are picking up the banner and working together to try and raise money to make improvements along the street."
The building also serves as offices for Charles Smith Wines and K Vintners.
This year, the Historic Downtown Prosser Association plans to buy trees and large pots to line streets.
Its next bachelor auction -- which includes date packages and services such landscaping and electrical work -- is scheduled for June 2. Tickets are available at www.historicprosser.com.
For more information on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, go to www.preservewa.org.