PORT TOWNSEND — You really should paint the houses, guests say.
“We’d love to,” but it’s pricey, answers Jason Lamey, who runs reservations for the historic Officers Row lodgings at Fort Worden State Park.
Now a pair of the houses – known as the Colonels’ quarters – are not just being painted, they’re also shrink-wrapped.
These houses are part of a major investment by the state of Washington. While the Fort Worden Public Development Authority’s financial woes have led to the organization’s restructuring, the park’s much older properties are being improved, with state funding totaling nearly $1.8 million.
On Officers Row, the giant wrapping shields two houses from the elements during a careful refurbishment described by state project engineer Larry Mallo: Many layers of lead-based paint are being removed from the siding and trim that’s in good-enough shape to reuse, he said, while the siding on the south weatherside will be replaced with cedar to match the original. Each of the windows, he added, is being restored and weatherstripped.
All of this is done in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties, of which the 116-year-old fort is one.
Washington state’s 2019-2021 budget is funding the six-month project to the tune of $992,090 for the two buildings, with Good News Group Construction of Auburn completing the work.
Lamey predicted the two duplexes will be available for rent again in April, along with the rest of Officers Row, including the Commander’s and General’s houses.
These lodgings range from $499 to $699 per night for four to six bedrooms, he noted, adding the Commander’s quarters on the far end of the row is the most popular, with its sun porch and water view. It was refurbished, at a cost similar to the two being done now, four years ago.
This summer is busy already, Lamey said: Much of the row is booked solid in July with a few openings in June and August. Families who have come here for generations rent the houses, while other travelers have discovered the fort since the pandemic began. Weddings, retreats and festive gatherings of quilters all happen here, he said.
Two other less-glamorous projects are taking place alongside Officers Row: replacement and reconnection of failing sewer and water lines. The state funding for both is $399,500, with Nordland Construction of Marrowstone Island the contractor.
“We also have a project to replace the Upper Campground comfort station,” Mallo added. This brings another $399,069 from the state, to remove the deteriorating comfort station and replace it with a new one that complies with park standards.
At Lamey’s desk, there have been a few complaints about lodgings at the fort — even the Victorian officers’ quarters.
People notice the old-house smell, he said, but most are fine with the historic experience.
“You have to embrace what we have here,” he said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]