Woodworking school sets up shop at Fort Worden landmark building

PORT TOWNSEND — The Old Power House at Fort Worden State Park is again creating a buzz — but now it’s caused by woodworking rather than by electricity or Army dispatches.

For the first 30 years of its existence, the rectangular concrete building housed machines that produce electricity for the buildings around it.

As World War II approached, the generators were removed, and the building was turned into a communications center, a hub of wires connecting the Army post to the world.

For the past two months, three Port Townsend woodworkers — Lawson, Jim Tolpin and John Marckworth — have overseen the transformation of the Old Power House generator room into the main classroom for their newest project, the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

“After we put the sign up, a lot of people walking by saw it and wondered about it,” Tim Lawson said.

But the woodworkers don’t want to change things too much.

“We’re interested in preserving the historic integrity of the building, and wanting to do that ourselves,” Tolpin said.

Because of its acoustic qualities, the boiler room had already been converted to a recording studio, but the generator room had been relegated to paint storage when the three woodworkers first saw it.

That was last November, when they were renting space in the state park’s Seminar Building for lectures and demonstrations as a way of seeing if the idea for a woodworking school would float.

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