Fire Bell Tower

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 1999

Location: Port Townsend, Jefferson County

Port Townsend’s Fire Bell Tower is a 75-foot wooden structure built in 1890 to hold a 1,500 pound brass bell and the city’s then-new $900 fire engine. The ringing bell rallied the community to fight fires, and provide a coded signal as to the location and severity of the blaze using a system of alarm boxes. The bell tower was also used for fog soundings for the ferry dock below until the early 1960s.

The tower was threatened in 1950s and 1970s, but in both instances funds were raised to restore the structure. The tower was threatened again by collapse in 1990s, and the Washington Trust assisted with the Most Endangered Places listing in 1999 and a 2001 Valerie Sivinski Fund grant. This led to the 2003 restoration by the Jefferson County Historical Society and City of Port Townsend.

Read more from our “40 for 40” featured story from the Washington Trust’s 40th anniversary in 2016.

Scout House

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2004

Location: Jefferson County

Sir Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scout movement in England in 1907. Four years later in 1911, Port Townsend’s first Boy Scout Troup was organized. In the 1920s, a Port Townsend businessman donated the city
block at Quincy and Cosgrove streets “for use by the Boy Scouts of Port Townsend.” Community volunteers and scouts built a rustic log house on the property and began using the “Scout House” in 1931. Since then, the Port Townsend Elks Lodge has sponsored the local scout troops and maintained the Scout House as a meeting place and activity hub for scouts. The Scout House played a key role in the scouting experience in Port Townsend. For more than 70 years, the rustic character of the house meshed comfortably with the historic fabric of Port Townsend, serving as a focal point for the Morgan Hill neighborhood and an authentic backdrop for countless scout meetings, ceremonies, and camp-outs.

Fowler House

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2007

Location: Port Townsend, Jefferson County

Port Townsend’s uptown residential district demonstrates much of the Victorian sensibility of the commercial district it overlooks.  The Fowler House, however, predates much of the late nineteenth century construction and stands as a rare example of Civil War era building.  Greek Revival in style, the circa 1858 residence was home to Captain Enoch S. Fowler who constructed his house in a manner familiar to him as a native of Maine.

The house fell into disrepair in the 2000s, prompting the listing as a Most Endangered Place. Finally, in 2020 the house was rescued, moderinzed, and put on the market.

Hastings Buildings

Status: Still Standing

Year Listed: 2007

Location: Port Townsend, Jefferson County

Ask Washington residents which city in their state is most noteworthy for its Victorian-era architecture and the answer will likely be Port Townsend.  The downtown commercial center boasts one of the state’s finest collections of late nineteenth century commercial structures, comprising a historic district recognized as a National Historic Landmark.  Located at the corner of Water and Taylor Streets, the Hastings Building serves as the anchor to Port Townsend’s historic downtown.  Constructed in 1889 and named for Captain L.B. Hastings, the architectural details and ornamentation adorning the Hastings Building illustrate the flamboyance and optimism of the early 1890s.

Point Hudson

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2003

Location: Port Townsend, Jefferson County

Located adjacent to what is now downtown Port Townsend, local Indian tribes used the Point Hudson area long before Captain Vancouver’s party came ashore in 1792. The site as it currently exists began in 1934 as a U.S. Quarantine Station. Today it’s a tourist attraction and a boaters’ safe haven. The site is home to the Wooden Boat Festival, restaurants, a moorage, small businesses, a bed and breakfast, and private residences. The Port of Port Townsend has owned the property since 1956 but has leased it to private management until last year. In 2003, Port officials approached the City of Port Townsend seeking demolition permits for all but three of the buildings on the site, citing prohibitive costs to bring the buildings up to code. The Port backed off on plans for demolition, and the City and local preservationists are working with the Port to seek alternatives for compatible new development and re-use of existing historic structures.

Read more about Point Hudson.

Jefferson County Courthouse and Tower

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2003

Location: Jefferson County

The Jefferson County Courthouse, built in 1892 on a bluff overlooking the town and visible to all, symbolized the city and county’s prosperity in the late 19th century heyday of shipping and logging. The massive Romanesque brick, sandstone, and terra cotta building is still being used for its original purpose. A thick coating of sealer was applied to the exterior masonry in the 1970s, but it is unreinforced and therefore unable to withstand a large earthquake. Of even greater concern than the courthouse is the clocktower, which due to its high, exposed location, is significantly overstressed by wind loads. Approximately $1.35 million in grants and appropriations have been raised for repair and maintenance of the tower and courthouse, but the estimated budget for strengthening the tower alone is $3 million. The urgency of the project remains.

Lincoln School

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2015

Location: Jefferson County

Location: Port Townsend, Jefferson County

Completed in 1892, the Lincoln School stands as a contemporary of Port Townsend’s major civic structures. Considered one of the most handsome public buildings in the state when completed, it served as a public school for 86 years. A 1936 Public Works Administration project modernized the school, changing the external appearance of the building to resemble the design of the newly built neighboring high school. In 1980, the building was deemed a “fire trap” by the local fire chief and was vacated in the middle of the school year. School district administrative offices remained on the first floor until 2012, when the doors were shuttered. Although unoccupied and facing substantial plumbing and seismic issues, the building remains solid and is currently used for storage. The Port Townsend School District would like to see the building repurposed, but unfortunately a request for proposals to rehabilitate the building issued by the school district in 2014 yielded no responses.