PORT TOWNSEND — Last fall, only a few months after she started her job as head of the Chief Seattle Boy Scout Council, Sharon Moulds got a call from Bob Nesbitt and Dave Harrah of the Port Townsend Elks Lodge asking to meet with her.
Wondering what they wanted to discuss, Moulds looked around and found a file, several inches thick, detailing the sale of the Scout cabin property on Morgan Hill in Port Townsend and the community effort, led by the Elks, to rebuild the cabin at another location.
After reading through it, she realized, “That’s what they want to talk about.”
On Saturday, Moulds told how she first found out about the cabin and presented a check for $189,000 to the Elks for the project, the second installment of funds from the property sale.
“I am pleased that the Chief Seattle Council agreed with me to give this money to raise this building,” Moulds said.
“All I care about is the kids.”
The new log cabin is being built by volunteers on park land near the entrance to town that was donated by the Marvin Shields American Legion Post No. 26.
On Saturday, guests got see the progress on the building.
Walls of the main hall, which will be eight logs high, are now more than halfway up, and the crew of volunteer workers have six more logs prepared and ready to be lifted this morning.
“This is being built for you and other youth in the community,” Pat McMinds, president of the committee to rebuild the cabin, told the Scouts gathered at the site Saturday.
“This is yours.”
The Fred Lewis Scout Cabin Association, which formed to rebuild the cabin, got another lift in the form of a donated crane.
After the ground-breaking last year, Roger Loney, manager of the Port Townsend Paper Mill, had planned to loan one of the mill’s crane to lift the logs, but was prevented from doing so for insurance reasons, according to Ralph Ericksen, project coordinator.
Then Cliff Linderoth of Sequim, who has consulted on the project since the original cabin was demolished, told the volunteers that he had a crane that he had bought several years ago from Julian Arthur, and they could have it if they could get it running.
Loney told the volunteers to haul it down to the mill, Ericksen said, and the mill mechanics got it running.
“It’s been a real life saver,” Ericksen said.
Having their own crane means the work can proceed on the volunteers’ schedule instead of on a deadline.
It’s been slow going the last few months. They took a long break over the holidays, Ericksen said, then the weather prevented them from resuming work.
“The average age of my crew is 75,” he noted.
But the logs are rolling again, and the walls should be finished by early summer, Ericksen said.
The roof is the next major step in construction. Once it is on and the building is enclosed with doors and windows, Ericksen said, the plumbers, electricians and stonemasons can come in.
He has had many people tell him that if there’s money to buy materials, they’ll come up and install them.
In addition to Saturday’s gift, the cabin association has still $150,000 in funds from the first fundraising effort, he said, which included donations from local businesses and individuals.
“It’s amazing how far we have come with so little money spent,” Ericksen said.
The Chief Seattle Council also made a initial contribution to the project, and with the second, the amount on hand should carry the project as far as the installation of the commercial kitchen, Erickson said.
That will be expensive, he said, but is necessary to generate income from rentals. The cabin association envisions renting it for parties and receptions.
On Saturday, Skipper Norm Stevens, a leader of the local Sea Scouts and Boy Scout Troop 1479, outlined some of the ways local youth and the community could use the property.
Outdoors, there is space for a fire pit and barbeque, a horseshoe pit, archery range, nature trail, and a low COPES course, Stevens said.
Inside, the main hall will be used for pack meetings, pinewood derbies and leadership training as well as other community and youth activities.
The daylight basement will have space for a shop for crafts and equipment repair as well as boat and camping equipment storage.
“We welcome Scouts from Port Angeles and Sequim, and we hope they will use it,” McMinds said.
“It’s for all of them, and we welcome them and all youth.”
Attending the presentation were Kevin and Shannalee Phillips, assistant chairpersons of the Mt. Olympus District, from Sequim; Chris Clem, district executive, from Port Angeles, and Jason McPherson from Chief Seattle Council.
Joe Carey, commander of the Port Townsend American Legion Post, accepted McMinds’ thanks for the donation of the park, which was originally given to the post by Jack Carroll in memory of his brother, LeRoy Carroll.
The American Legion will continue to use the park. The next event is the annual egg hunt on Easter Sunday, April 24, Carey said.
When the cabin is finished, keeping it and the property maintained will be the challenge, Stevens said, a problem that led to the demolition of the old Scout cabin on Morgan Hill.
That cabin was built by volunteers in the late 1930s on land donated by Port Townsend businessman Fred Lewis.
With the support of Chief Seattle Council, Lewis’ legacy will live on.
“We hope that boys will come out here and take ownership and be here for generations,” Moulds said.
To help build the Scout cabin, phone Ericksen at 360-385-6453, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations to the building fund can be mailed to the Fred Lewis Scout Cabin Association, P.O. Box 788, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
For more information about Boy Scouting on the North Olympic Peninsula, contact Chris Clem, Mt. Olympus district executive, at email@example.com or phone 360-461-3105. #
________Jennifer Jackson is a freelance writer and photogrpaher living in Port Townsend. She writes a column in the Peninsula Daily News each Wednesday. To contact her, phone 360-379-5688, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.