Orchids & Onions Awards to Go Onion-Free for 2019 

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The Orchids & Onions Awards, an annual event once considered to be the Oscars & Razzies of historic preservation in Idaho, is dropping the negativity this year. Presented by Preservation Idaho since 1977, in years past the ceremony included handouts of both Orchid Awards in multiple categories—people and organizations that have supported and furthered the safeguarding of Idaho's history—and Onion Awards, offered as a cheeky gift to those who have, to put it nicely, "shown an insensitivity to historic preservation." But the 2019 celebration will drop the Onions.

Last year, the balance began to shift when Preservation Idaho decided it would announce "Onion projects" instead of outright Onion Awards to avoid shaming individuals and companies that have mixed records, including some bright spots.

“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,” Preservation Idaho Executive Board President Paula Benson told Boise Weekly before the 2018 ceremony, adding that Preservation Idaho also didn't want to jeopardize future partnerships.

Preservation Idaho spokesperson Kathleen Barrett confirmed that this year the council is taking that position a step further by eliminating Onion Awards entirely. The feel-good ceremony on Saturday, June 8, at 2:30 p.m. at the Historic 1912 Center in Moscow will feature only Orchids. Among those to be honored are two Boise projects, the James Castle House, which is preserving Idaho artist James Castle's family home and legacy while also raising his national profile, and the Foote Park Interpretive Project, which Preservation Idaho credits with "bringing historical value of the site to life with a creative and engaging space." Both will receive Cultural Heritage Preservation awards.

Another coveted prize, the Scott Chandler Award for Excellence in Craftsmanship, will go to Kuna resident Budd Landon, a mason who specializes in restoring the stone of historic buildings.

Tickets to the ceremony cost $15-$20. Here's a list of other winners by catagory: 
  • Contribution to Historic Preservation: 800 & 808 Main Street Project (Lewiston), International Order of Oddfellows Hall Rehabilitation (Lewiston), Spalding Hall Renovation on Lewis Clark State College Campus (Lewiston), Jerome School District Admin Building Exterior Upgrade Project (Jerome)

  • Cultural Heritage Preservation: Archipedia Idaho’s Classical Buildings, SAH Society of Architectural Historians (Moscow)

  • Friend of Preservation: Barbara Coyner (Potlatch)

  • Heritage Stewardship: Nels and Joyce Reese (Moscow)

  • Excellence in Historic Preservation: Restoration of Washington, Idaho Montana Railway Depot (Potlatch)
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