2018 Orchids & Onions Awards Opts for “Onion Projects” Over Outright Onions 

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Preservation Idaho has been highlighting the good, bad and downright ugly in Boise with its Orchids & Onions Awards for more than 40 years. Think of the event as the Oscars & Razzies of preservation. Traditionally, Orchid Awards go to those who have helped conserve Idaho’s architectural and historical legacy, while “Onions” go to organizations or individuals that have “shown an insensitivity” on the same front. This year however, the ceremony on Saturday, May 19, at the Boise Public Library Hayes Auditorium will be onion-free—though not for lack of options.

“As Boise has grown we have found it can be more problematic to give Onion Awards because the deserving Onion recipient in one case is a potential Orchid winner in another,” said Preservation Idaho Executive Board President Paula Benson. “Unfortunately, with so much growth, there are many opportunities for Onions with entities that we hope to collaborate with for other sites or projects. As you can imagine, getting an Onion does not necessarily promote partnership, although we would hope it would serve to highlight a lost opportunity for preservation.”

In other words, this year’s ceremony will be more positive, focusing on the 10 Orchid winners, both individuals and projects: Diane Myklegard, recipient of the Heritage Stewardship Award for her efforts to preserve Julia Davis Park; Lori Dicaire of Vanishing Boise, named this year’s Friend of Preservation; Noel Weber, who scored the Scott Chandler Award for Excellence in Craftsmanship for his sign design work; Barbara Perry Bauer and Elizabeth Jacox of The Arrowrock Group, named Distinguished Preservationists for their historical research; The Syringa Club, recognized as 27-year Heritage Stewards of Syringa Hall; the Lander Street Water Renewal Facility, preserved by the City of Boise Public Works Department; the revitalization of the 523 Main Street building in Caldwell; the transformation of the Third Ward LDS Meeting House into The Healing Sanctuary, and the renovation of the Leatherworks building, both in Idaho Falls; and the restoration of the Genesee Exchange Bank in Genesee.

Though it won’t call out any Onion organizations or individuals, Benson said Preservation Idaho will talk about three as-yet-undisclosed government initiatives it considers “Onion projects,” which represent either lost opportunities or blows to cultural resources.
“Two of these groups have made efforts at preservation, or at least have increased their preservation awareness, so we are hopeful that we can improve outcomes with them in the future,” said Benson. “The third is part of an overall challenge in the state that we highlighted last year.”

The May 19 ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 1 p.m., with a paid reception at The Cabin Literary Center to follow.
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