Columbia County Delivers Update on John Gumm Building Renovation and Improvement Project

Columbia County hosted a media briefing yesterday afternoon to provide an update on the ongoing renovations and improvements to the John Gumm Building. The John Gumm Building will serve as Columbia County’s civic offices and the new home to the county’s administrative personnel, the Columbia Economic Team, the Small Business Development Center, and the Columbia County Museum.

The event featured speakers including Columbia County Commissioner Casey Garrett, St. Helens Mayor Rick Scholl, Paul Vogel, Executive Director of the Columbia Economic Team, and Brandon Sundeen, Vice President of the Columbia County Museum Association Board of Directors. Each speaker highlighted the importance of revitalizing the John Gumm School Building, a vital part of the downtown St. Helens National Historic District.

Paul Vogel and Commissioner Garrett describe the benefits that revitalizing the John Gumm Building will bring to the community.

"The revitalization of the John Gumm Building is an investment in our community's future. It will bring economic opportunities, cultural enrichment, and accessibility to all residents and visitors," said Casey Garrett, Columbia County Commissioner. "Our goal is to create a vibrant, welcoming hub that serves as a source of pride for our community and supports our growing needs."

The project to enhance the John Gumm Building is part of an inclusive plan to improve the building’s quality, appearance, and energy efficiency. This will return a public landmark to community use while addressing facility needs. As Columbia County continues to grow, the need to reallocate and expand its facilities has become imperative.

Instead of constructing new buildings, the county purchased the historical John Gumm Building from a private party, revitalizing it as an inviting, accessible, multi-purpose cultural and public service center. Acquired in August 2021 after years of disuse and decline, the building is undergoing significant exterior and interior improvements. This is to allow occupation, provide ADA accessibility, and offer an appropriate complement of services. 

The upgrades include full window and roof enhancements, structural repairs to the walls to mitigate future damage, and repairing and restoring the arch and structural columns at the entrance. Accessibility ramps and elevators are being incorporated to ensure all visitors can access the Columbia County Museum, event space, and county offices.

"This project will benefit our residents, visitors, organizations, and businesses across the county and state by improving access to public, economic, historical, and cultural services," said Commissioner Garrett. "It creates opportunities for growth and engagement while preserving a building of historical significance that anchors a Nationally Recognized Historic District, safeguarding a local landmark for future generations."

The John Gumm Building revitalization demonstrates Columbia County's commitment to its heritage and future. By blending historical preservation with community revitalization, the county will ensure that this iconic landmark remains a focal point of civic and cultural activities for decades to come.

For more information on the John Gumm Building Renovation and Improvement Project, visit

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About Columbia County

Columbia County is a scenic and culturally rich area located in northern Oregon. It is known for its picturesque landscapes, lush forests, rolling hills, and proximity to the Columbia River. The county is home to vibrant communities and a diverse economy fueled by manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism. With a strong commitment to preserving its historic sites and cultural landmarks, the region boasts a rich history and heritage. Both residents and visitors enjoy a high quality of life, with access to outdoor recreation, educational opportunities, and a warm, welcoming community.



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