Raccoon Lodge gets options for preservation

Artist has until Dec. 30 to decide piece’s future

PORT TOWNSEND — The builder of an art piece in Port Townsend dubbed the “Raccoon Lodge” has been given until Dec. 30 to decide what to do with the structure, which city officials say needs to comply with building codes.

The City of Port Townsend sent the work’s creator — retired carpenter and professional singer Kevin Mason, known locally as the lead singer for Kevin and the PT All Stars — a set of options for ways the piece can be brought into compliance, but speaking to the Peninsula Daily News, Mason said Wednesday he was cautiously optimistic the piece could remain.

“I think it may be a light in the end of the tunnel,” Mason said following a meeting with city officials about other structures on his property. “I’m feeling optimistic.”

The Raccoon Lodge is a house-like structure affixed to the front of the stump of what was once reportedly the largest Monterey Cypress tree in the state of Washington.

City officials became aware of the Raccoon Lodge after they were called to the property to inspect other structures on Mason’s property which were reported to the city by one of Mason’s neighbors, he said.

The tree stump abuts the public sidewalk on Clay Street and is partially in the public right-of-way.

In October, city officials sent Mason a letter informing him the structure would need to be brought into compliance with the city’s building codes or taken down by Nov. 30.

Later, officials extended the deadline to Dec. 30.

Members of the public rallied in support of Mason and the Raccoon Lodge. More than 100 people showed up at a gathering in front of the tree on Nov. 12.

A petition was filed on the website Change.org at https://www.change.org/p/support-our-local-artist-kevin-mason-and-his-tree-stump-art-the-raccoon-lodge. As of Wednesday, 2,846 people had signed it.

City officials have expressed concerns about the integrity of the structure and the stump it’s attached to. In addition to structural concerns, art pieces in the public right of way must be insured and managed either by the city or an organization, according to city officials.

The city met with Mason on Nov. 18 and issued a request for voluntary compliance with five options for various ways in which the structure can be brought up to code.

City Manager John Mauro said Tuesday the city has given Mason until Dec. 30 to decide which option he wishes to pursue, but no physical action needs to happen to the structure yet.

Mauro said city officials have exercised a high degree of creativity in trying to find ways to preserve the structure.

“This is not a usual circumstance,” Mauro said. “We’re part of that community and we’re trying to have a creative, collaborative approach that is very open to a number of pathways forwards.”

Options suggested by the city involve obtaining building permits and an engineering report and Mason said he’s had several people, including professional engineers, offer to help bring the Raccoon Lodge into code.

But Mason was emphatic that he was not seeking monetary gain and would not personally pursue a fundraising effort. If members of the public were to raise funds to protect the Raccoon Lodge, Mason said he wanted no money for himself.

“As long as it didn’t say that it was giving me one nickel, or the inference that I would get one nickel,” Mason said of possible fundraising efforts by the community.

“I don’t want to be any money to me. I don’t want the appearance that Kevin Mason is getting money for this. I gave that art piece to the city for free.”

Mason, 75, said he started building the structure as a way to relax following cancer treatments, which he said Wednesday were still ongoing. But Mason has said the stress of the situation is causing other health problems, specifically high blood pressure.

Mason said he previously felt that removing the structure was the only feasible option, but Wednesday afternoon he was more hopeful that the lodge might be preserved.

“I do want to be able to let this live because of such a wonderful outpouring of support,” Mason said.


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Air Force to clean up station

EPA plans to oversee Neah Bay operation

Appraisal for Short’s Farm less than port expected

Port of PT considering purchase to support local agriculture growth

Artwork by Sixkiller, contemporary Cherokee artist, is on display in House of Learning, Peninsula College Longhouse now through March.
Cherokee artist to speak on Grandma Spider

Contemporary Cherokee artist Karen Sixkiller will speak on “Rediscovering… Continue reading

Jefferson PUD plans to standardize broadband fees

Some internet providers in Jefferson County may see their… Continue reading

Port Angeles Community Award recipients gather after Saturday night’s fifth annual awards gala, including, from left, Joe DeScala, representing 4PA, organization of the year; Dr. Gerald Stephanz, citizen of the year; Tommy Harris, young leader of the year; Natalie Snow, Katelyn Sheldon and Andrea Dean, representing Welly’s Real Fruit Ice Cream, emerging business of the year; and Hayley Sharpe, owner of MOSS, business of the year. Not present was John Gallagher, educator of the year. The awards are produced by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Sound Publishing. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Community awards distributed at chamber gala

Six categories featured as event returns in person

One hurt in wreck at 104-Shine intersection

A Poulsbo woman was treated and discharged from Harborview Medical… Continue reading

Brock Tejeda, a high school senior, fits together his carefully crafted pieces of wood to make a step stool just like the larger finished sample on the left. Port Angeles High School hosted a Skills USA Olympic Regional contest in the woodshop at the school on Saturday. The contest involved students making in eight hours from precise directions a small step stool using their skills and the shop’s many tools and machines. Joe Shideler is the woodshop teacher, but retired woodshop teacher Tim Branham was the enabler who brought the contest back to the school after a four-year COVID absence. There were five high school contestants including one girl. Skills USA sponsors over 50 skills across the country. PAHS participated in the carpentry and precision machinery areas. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Skills contest

Brock Tejeda, a high school senior, fits together his carefully crafted pieces… Continue reading

Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group
About 100 people gathered in support of Sequim School District's proposed CTE building at Sequim City Council's last meeting. More than 20 people spoke in favor of the project in a public hearing.
Sequim council approves $250K for CTE facility

City’s contribution part of effort to raise $1 million

Monroe Athletic Field
Bidding opens for Monroe Athletic Field

Slated for completion this fall

Most Read