Murals and Interior Renos Sweep the Downtown Design Awards

On December 5, the Inkwell Home Store played host to the 2019 Downtown Design Awards. Held by the Downtown Corvallis Association. The event recognizes beautification efforts made by local businesses. Emceeing this year’s festivities were Michele and Randy Dobson of The Dobson Group.  

The category of Outstanding Public Art had four winners, the first being the mural “Footprints of Compassion” at the Heartland Humane Society Thrift Shop, painted by Esteban Camacho Steffenson. The award was accepted by thrift shop manager Carrie Fairchild and Heartland’s Executive Director Emily James, who said they were “glad to be brightening up our little corner of town.” 

Next was “Cougar Under the Bridge” painted by Marnie Ernst Zoa. The mural was commissioned by Officer Josh Zessin of the Corvallis Police Department to deter graffiti under the Harrison Street Bridge. Zoa said the award “really mostly belongs to Josh, because it was not easy getting approval.”   

The third winner was the LOVE mural at 3rd and Western commissioned by Christina Jancila, made by Portland artist Dylan Miller. Fourth was another Steffenson piece, “Hummingjewel,” located in the Art Alley.

The next category was for Best Rebranding, which went to Wisecracks Cafe, formerly The Broken Yolk. Following that was Best Business Relocation, won by The Golden Crane, which moved into the space previously occupied by Stash. Julie Johnson said that she and her co-owner Regina Walker were “proud to be continuing the 40 year tradition of the business.”  

The award for Best Historic Renovation Project was given to The Whiteside Theatre, for their historic poster cases. According to the DCA, “The improvement to the Theatre’s streetscape is quite significant. It now proclaims the Whiteside Theatre is open and invites the public to a wide variety of upcoming performances.”  

The largest category by far was Outstanding Interior Renovation, with no less than five winners: the Inkwell itself for their upstairs loft; Treebeerd’s Taphouse at the Corvallis Hotel Building; Bodhi Bakery at the site of the old Allan Bros. Beanery; Splendid Barre on Madison and 5th; and Adore Salon in what used to be Melhaf’s. All of the recipients expressed extreme gratitude to the Downtown Corvallis community for their support.  

Conifer Wellness took the award for Outstanding Upper Floor Renovation. Co-founder Katie Smith said that “Far too often mental health is pushed to the outskirts of town, so we are grateful to the DCA and Jennifer Moreland.”  

Outstanding Adaptive Reuse went to Restyle for their overhaul of the old Gracewinds space, taking advantage of the building’s distinctive wooden beams and hardwood floors.  

The final category was Outstanding Comprehensive Renovation, which was awarded to Lumina Hospice for their work on the Arnold Building, and Reynolds Law Firm for their new 5th Street location. Laurie Russell of Lumina said that “the renovations cost more than the building,” and that she was “excited to be able to walk to lunch.”  

By Brandon Urey