Historic preservation award given to boat school for its work on Galster House

Historical society provides honor in unanimous vote

From left to right, Boat School Executive Director Betsy Davis and Ajax Café owner Kristan McCary celebrate the recognition of the Galster House, home of the Ajax Café, with this year’s Mary P. Johnson Award for historic preservation presented by the Jefferson County Historical Society and its executive director, Shelly Leavens.

From left to right, Boat School Executive Director Betsy Davis and Ajax Café owner Kristan McCary celebrate the recognition of the Galster House, home of the Ajax Café, with this year’s Mary P. Johnson Award for historic preservation presented by the Jefferson County Historical Society and its executive director, Shelly Leavens.

PORT HADLOCK — The Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building has been honored with the Jefferson County Historical Society’s Mary P. Johnson award following the restoration and preservation of the Galster House.

The award is presented to one historical place per year and has an extensive list of criteria that must be met as outlined by the Secretary of the Interior.

It was presented to the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building following a unanimous vote of the historical society.

“The Galster House does not stand alone,” said Kathleen Booker, a Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building board member. “As the centerpiece of a working waterfront, it is in good company of other historic district buildings which grew up around it.”

The boat school purchased the property in 2017 in order to preserve the building as well as connect the upper and lower portions of the school’s Port Hadlock campus.

The Galster House was built in 1890 by Samuel Hadlock and has served as a community gathering place and public house since 1906, when Lena and William Galster operated it as a saloon.

For the past 44 years, the building has been the site of the Ajax Cafe.

When the boat school purchased the property, it extended a long-term lease to the cafe to keep it operating in the building.

The purchase was funded in part by more than 300 community donations that came from various charitable funds, foundations, trusts and grants all dedicated to historical preservation.

“The boat school’s previous investments in these structures support a vibrant and authentic historic district which brings together students and craftspeople with local community neighbors in a unique slice of rural working waterfront,” Booker said.

Besty Davis, the executive director for the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building, said the award speaks to the privilege of teaching in such a storied community.

“It’s a privilege to be teaching about watercraft in this beautiful waterfront location that reflects the stories of so many people, including approximately 130 years of stories the Ajax building holds and 10,000 years of stories from the S’Klallam people,” Davis said.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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