Schmidt Mansion

Interpretive Markers & Panels

Writing for outdoor installations is different from writing online or for print. The trick lies in finding ways to combine historical facts with surroundings so readers can grasp what happened at the site where they’re viewing the text. The challenge comes in keeping things short. The payoff comes in imagining that visitors may be reading my work decades after I’m gone.

Historic Homes

Historic Crosby House and Interpretive Sign
Historic Crosby House
1904 Schmidt House
1905 Henderson House

Outdoor signs at three historic homes in Tumwater, Washington—the pioneer Crosby House, the 1904 Schmidt House, and the 1905 Henderson House—collectively tell the story of the city’s early days.

Women’s History

Women Win the Vote Marker

A bronze marker outside the Old Capitol Building in Olympia commemorates the final victory for women’s suffrage in Washington State. I couldn’t resist the irony that only men were allowed to cast ballots on the statewide referendum giving women the right to vote.

Marathon Park Marker

A panel in Olympia’s Marathon Park honors the 50-year struggle for a Women’s Olympic Marathon. The park stands near the finish line of the race that determined the first U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon team in 1984.

Historical Panels Along the Falls of the Deschutes River

Twelve interpretive panels at the south end of Puget Sound explain the Native, British, and American history of the Deschutes River canyon. Visitors in adjacent parks may read just one panel, or two, or the whole lot—in no particular order. Each sign must make sense on its own while still working as part of the set.

Washington State County Markers

One of my favorite projects involved writing text for 39 markers on the grounds of the Washington State Capitol, one for each county in the state. Installed at ankle level, they are just the right height to be read and admired by dogs.