Shelter Fund-Raising Set to Go Public

Article excerpt

Byline: Scott Maben The Register-Guard

The old, rusty Quonset hut long used for picnics, weddings and festivals at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum could be gone within a year, replaced by a light-filled, all-weather pavilion built to last 100 years.

That's the hope of arboretum officials as they prepare to kick off the public phase of a fund-raising drive to raze the dim, dilapidated picnic shelter and erect the new White Oak Pavilion.

"This will be a far more open and bright building," said Ron Funke, chairman of the arboretum board's planning committee.

The nonprofit organization that operates the 209-acre arboretum has raised $206,000 since last summer, including $100,000 from a Eugene woman.

Organizers figure they need $150,000 more. They plan to kick off a "raise the rafters" campaign on Monday and will announce the identity of the big local donor then.

The 56-year-old Quonset hut once was used for cattle when the arboretum and surrounding area was a farm. It was converted to a picnic shelter after the arboretum opened 30 years ago, but now it's rusting and falling apart.

"It doesn't meet today's standards as a place to have exhibits and educational events," Funke said.

Many weddings have been staged there as well, but the old structure isn't terribly suited for such ceremonies, Funke said.

"It's not the most attractive building nor the most functional building in the world," he said.

The new pavilion, based on a design from 1996, will allow in more light and afford better views of the surrounding parkland and trees, including the stand of California white oak for which the building will be named.

Visitors will be able to close the 3,000-square-foot shelter using sliding glass "barn doors." The feature will come in handy on blustery days, such as those that have ruffled the arboretum's annual wildflower show in mid-May.

"This is one of the problems that has pushed us to do this," Funke said. "With the prevailing north wind this time of year, if you have lots of flowers in vases oriented in a north-south wind tunnel, it's very challenging to keep things in order. …