Two Port Townsend historical properties vie for funding glory

PORT TOWNSEND — The two Port Townsend historical properties competing against each other and 23 others statewide for a portion of a $1 million grant award are faring quite differently.

The schooner Adventuress, docked at the Northwest Maritime Center at the end of Water Street, was in first place for the grant award as of Tuesday afternoon.

The Customs House at 1322 Washington St., was in 16th place.

But, say supporters of the historic building which now houses the city’s post office, the end result could be a modern version of the fable about the tortoise and the hare.

Last week, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in San Francisco announced the contest, which will give away a total of $1 million for the support of 25 historic sites in the state.

The amounts of the grants will be determined by the number of online votes that each site attracts — and people can vote as often as they wish for their favorites.

Voting continues until midnight, May 12. After all votes are in, the winner will be announced, and will receive its full requested amount.

The remaining 24 sites will share the rest, subject to a decision by the sponsors.

Supporters of the Adventuress seek $100,000 to renovate the schooner’s stern, while those cheering for the Customs House — an 1893 building originally constructed to house U.S. Customs — are looking for $125,000 toward the development of handicapped access.


As of Tuesday afternoon, the Adventuress had 16 percent of the total vote and, as the top pick statewide, was just ahead of its nearest rival, Town Hall Seattle.

“We are excited about this,” said Catherine Collins, executive director of Sound Experience, which owns the ship.

“We have an incredible grassroots effort, and are using word of mouth to get people to vote for us, many times.”

The Customs House, by comparison, had garnered by Tuesday only 3 percent of the vote.

These listings are unspecific. Five other properties were listed with 3 percent of the vote. The sponsors will not divulge actual vote totals or the number of votes cast.

The order on the site does reflect the vote sequence, and the Customs House’s 3 percent is greater than the 3 percent drawn by the 17th place site.

Success in the contest depends upon the ability to mobilize support and get people to go online, register and vote.

“We’ve been doing these competitions for five years,” said Anthony Veerkamp, senior program officer for the Western Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in San Francisco.

“In many cases, someone who is near the bottom is able to shoot toward the top quickly, because they tap a new resource or are able to get more people involved.”

With that in mind, supporters of the Customs House may improve their numbers soon enough.

Customs House: disabled access

“Our best hook is that we are the only one that is dealing with access for the disabled,” said Port Townsend Deputy Mayor George Randels.

“We need to get that message out and get people involved, since there are millions of potential votes we can get from people who are concerned about that issue.”

The Customs House now provides no access for those who can’t climb the outside stairs to get inside the building.

Instead, the U.S. Postal Service provides drive-up service for people with disabilities, while seeking an accessible substation.

Port Townsend and the U.S. Postal Service are working on an agreement in which the Postal Service would turn the building over to the city in return for the city providing a separate facility from which trucks would sort and deliver the mail.

A city public development authority seeks to manage the historic building.

Port Townsend City Manager David Timmons has said that the remainder of the funding would come from other sources, and would make the building a more attractive rental once the public development authority takes over its ownership.

The Adventuress’ support system won’t slow down, despite its present lead in the contest, because people are mindful of how vote totals can change quickly.

“This is a horse race,” Collins said. “Just because we are in the lead today it doesn’t mean we will be in the lead tomorrow.

Collins said the closest Seattle competitors, Town Hall and the 5th Avenue Theater, “have incredible organizations that could vote in large numbers at any time.”

Eleven of the properties are in Seattle. The remainder includes the Bowman Bay Kitchen Shelter in Deception Pass State Park, the Ferry House at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island and the Point No Point Lighthouse in Hansville.

The two links for the projects are and, and each cross links to the other.

Both sites link to, where actual voting occurs and the top 10 list appears.


Jefferson County reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

More in News

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’

Solar array, battery storage to be installed on Port Angeles Senior Center

System could provide hours of backup power in case of an outage

UPDATE: Power restored between Sequim, Port Angeles

A tree has been removed from a Clallam County PUD… Continue reading

Road work to close Quinault Loop

Work crews from Haztech Drilling will begin geotechnical drilling… Continue reading

Fiber gathering Thursday at Studio Bob

Marva Holmes will host “St*tch & B*tch” at 4:30… Continue reading

Dream Playground to be fully covered by insurance

Donations still will be used in May rebuild

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading

The City of Sequim hosts 13 manufactured home/mobile home parks with 596 existing units and 786 approved dwelling units. City staff continue to look into zoning options that could protect these sites from redevelopment to help protect affordable housing options in the city. (City of Sequim)
Sequim extends its mobile home moratorium

City staff to work preserving manufactured housing option

Olympic Medical Center chief outlines efforts at improvements

Decreased number of travelers among them

Jay and Trudi Inslee wear red for #WearRedDay to support women’s heart health in 2022. (Jay Inslee)
Gov. Inslee reflects in his final year of three terms

On the second level of the white and gray marbled… Continue reading

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer as coworker Robert Bufford prepares to secure the load as the pair prepares to open the parking lot at Port Angeles City Pier to automobiles on Friday. The work was part of a project to improve storm drainage, replace damaged sidewalks and ADA ramps and mitigate shoreline erosion around the lot, which had been closed since early January. Tree replacement and other project detail work is expected to follow over the next few weeks.
City Pier parking open

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer… Continue reading

Sequim Citizen of the Year luncheon on Tuesday

Emiko Brock, Labbe, Olsen to be honored