Donna M. Morris moved from Los Angeles, California to Port Angeles, Washington in September of 1993 following the previous move of a close friend to the area. During her time on the Olympic Peninsula, Donna became aware of the lack of dedicated performing arts venues within the community. As a result and upon her passing, Donna left a generous gift of over $9 million to be used specifically for the design, construction, and ongoing operation of a performing arts center to be located in Port Angeles, Washington.
In addition, Donna asked that her gift be used in a way that specifically supports the following local organizations:
Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra
Port Angeles Fine Arts Center
Port Angeles Light Opera Association
Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts
Port Angeles Community Players
Peninsula College and Foundation
City of Port Angeles
Following the directives of the Last Will and Testament of Donna M. Morris, the executor of her estate appointed a group of local citizens to serve on an advisory committee. Each committee member was assigned individual responsibility for liaising with one of the local organizations identified in the will. The entire committee was subsequently made responsible for planning the design, construction, and operation of a new performing arts center.
This committee established the Port Angeles Waterfront Center (PAWC) as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2016 and began their planning process later that year. Presently, the Board of Directors consists of eight members including: Brooke Taylor (President), Bill Kindler (Vice President), Jeanne Martin (Treasurer), Judith Morris (Secretary), Dorothy Field, Karen McCormick, Dan Wilder, Sr., and Nathan West.
Port Angeles Waterfront Center will…
Serve, strengthen, and showcase arts and culture in Port Angeles.
Draw people of all ages and backgrounds to downtown Port Angeles for a variety of activities year-round.
Celebrate what is unique about Port Angeles and enhance its reputation.
Be a core piece of Port Angeles’ identity – a source of community pride.
During its initial organization, the Port Angeles Waterfront Center received a donation of $1.4 million from Port Angeles resident Dorothy Field to purchase nearly 70,000 square feet of waterfront property located at the corner of West Front Street and North Oak Street to be used as the site for a new performing arts and events center.
The property sits adjacent to the city’s main western thoroughfare (Front Street), a spectacular bike and walking trail (Olympic Discovery Trail), a new beach and harbor esplanade, and lies one block east of the Blackball Ferry Terminal (Coho) and a new 4-Star hotel and restaurant complex to be built by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. The Board of Directors quickly determined the site was ideal for a state-of-the-art performing arts and events center with superb views of both Port Angeles harbor and the Olympic Mountains, centrally located within the downtown business district.
It was soon discovered, however, that the site was larger than necessary for a mid-sized performing arts and events center. Subsequently, the Port Angeles Waterfront Center invited two “site partners” to develop buildings that could be located on a shared campus. The Feiro Marine Life Center and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are currently designing a state-of-the-art Marine Discovery Center that will be located on the west end of the property. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe intends to build a modern interpretation of a Northwest Native Longhouse that will be situated in the middle. Together, these three buildings will create a one-of-a-kind campus combining arts, science, and culture in a remarkable setting.