Summer 2010 begins at Pilchuck!

As we get ready to welcome artists for the first session of the Summer, maintenance supervisor Richard Nisonger and his team has been hard at work preparing the campus. He tells us a little about what he’s been up to. 

Pilchuck: Tell us about when you first came to Pilchuck. 

Richard Nisonger: In the fall of 1985 I was hired by the Nelson Lumber Construction Company to help build three new buildings on the Pilchuck campus – the Studio Building, the Cold Shop and the new concrete Kiln Studio (now the store). It was a very interesting time as Dale [Chihuly] and his crew blew from September till January. We spent every lunch hour in the Hot Shop watching and getting warm and dry. In January, Dale moved to the Campbell Soup Building in Seattle and Billy Morris and his crew, Jon Ormbrek, Paul DeSomma and Joe Rosano, stayed. And so began Billy’s 20-year residency, which I got to witness.

The fall of ‘87 I heard that Pilchuck was looking for a Full Time Maintenance Supervisor and I applied for the job. I had spent 18 years working with students as a school teacher and had worked in the construction trades many of those summers. I felt it was a good mix and this was where I wanted to be.

Pilchuck: You have quite a wide scope of things you’re responsible for on campus. Describe the average day for you. 

RN: Average Day…. The Physical Plant… We have 54 acres, 20 acres of which are mowed. In addition, there are 60 Buildings. That’s lots of roofs, doors, windows, plumbing and electrical. We also have a lot of other facilities on campus that require looking after, including: 10 septic systems (includes 18 tanks); 12 drainfields; 1 ½ miles of driveway and campus roads; ½ mile of cedar chip trails; 18 bathrooms; housing and beds for 110 people; and in general, lots of garbage and clean up and recycling. During the off season there are two of us, and during school there are five. Enough said.

Pilchuck: What are some of the major projects you’ve undertaken this winter and spring to get the campus ready for the 2010 summer program? 

RN: Winter and Spring Projects: The Dorm Makeover – Walls washed; Entry and Halls painted. Installed new carpet in entry, hallways, and all the bedrooms. All doors sanded, cut and refinished.


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