The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Education recognizes outstanding efforts to inform the public about a particular historic property, or range of related historic resources. Individuals or organizations can receive awards for publications, films or videos, exhibits, websites, conferences, or ongoing historic preservation education programs. This year, the award in the Education Category goes to Kevin Palo of Ilwaco for the Fort Worden Windows Restoration Project.
To watch Kevin Palo at work is to witness living history. A professional preservationist for more than thirty years, he proves false the old adage: “Those that can, do…those that can’t, teach.” In fact, Kevin can turn any occurrence in the field or in the workshop into an educational opportunity. A natural teach, Kevin freely shares his extensive knowledge of vintage tools and techniques, knowledge he gained first-hand from artisans and craftsmen, many of whom were the last of their kind.
During the spring and summer of 2010, Kevin undertook the ambitious Fort Worden Windows Restoration Project. His plan was to combine the practice of building restoration and weatherization with historic preservation instruction in a working environment at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. Nearly 100 large, century-old, double-hung windows in two of Fort Worden’s buildings were restored to full functionality, and each received a custom-built, historically accurate storm sash. Kevin accomplished this in 11 weeks with 60 volunteers, most of whom had little or no previous experience in carpentry or historic preservation.
As Chief Instructor, Kevin Palo led each class; supervised all activities at the workshop and job sites; plus managed all administrative tasks. As the courses progressed, many students enthusiastically returned, along with new attendees. Nearly all of the 60 students graduated, received a certificate from the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, the State Park, and credits awarded by Peninsula College. It is noteworthy that some of the graduates have gone on to apply their newfound skills in their own businesses, while others are continuing their education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. As a result, Kevin is perpetuating these skills and knowledge so that future generations will be able to restore historic buildings to the same high standards.
In creating and conducting the Fort Worden Windows Restoration Project, Kevin drew on his skills as an expert in historic building restoration and as a teacher of historic preservation techniques. Sixty individuals from the northwest—aged 18 to 65 that included veterans, state park employees, interested hobbyists, and preservation students, spent from 2 to 9 weeks with Kevin, learning to restore and weatherize nearly 100 historic wooden windows at Fort Worden. In doing so, they benefited from Kevin’s vast knowledge and passion for historic preservation, taking home not only new skills, but an appreciation for the value of preserving Washington’s historic treasures. For this and all his efforts to apply and perpetuate preservation skills and craftsmanship, it is a pleasure to honor Kevin with this award.