Enchanted Valley Chalet

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2014

Location: Olympic National Park

Located in the heart of Olympic National Park, the 2 1/2-story, hand-hewn, dovetail-notched log structure is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the recreational development of the wild and remote interior of the Olympic Mountains. The Olympic Recreation Company completed the chalet in 1931, operating it as seasonal wilderness lodging. Purchased by the National Park Service in 1953, it was open to the public and served as a ranger station until it was closed in 2013 due to limited maintenance and vandalism.

The Chalet is the last structure of its type within the park’s interior. Flooding events and changes in the flow of the Quinault River caused bank erosion, leaving a portion of the chalet cantilevered over the riverbank. The Chalet was nominated as a Most Endangered Place in 2014 and in September of that year, the building was successfully moved 100 feet from the bank of the river. The Chalet was not given a permanent foundation and is currently still sitting on the steel beams used to move it back in 2014.

Unfortunately, the Quinault River has continued to move in the valley and as of March 2019, the river bank has once again eroded to within approximately 5 feet of the Chalet.


Update

In May 2020, National Park Service released an environmental assessment about the future of the Enchanted Valley Chalet which recommends that the building be dismantled and removed from the Valley. Olympic National Park staff hosted a virtual public meeting on July 15 and shared what they are planning, answered questions, and provided information about the process. They accepted further public comment on the assessment until August 31. Additional documents and a link to comment, can be found on the project planning website.

If you want a quick primer on the situation, Olympic National Park has released a Frequently Asked Questions document about their assessment. If you want a deep dive, you can read the entire environmental assessment document.

We will continue to keep you updated on this important and unique piece of Washington history!

Oysterville Historic District

Status: Still Standing

Year Listed: 2014

Location: Pacific County

Founded in 1854, Oysterville is located in southwest Washington on the western shore of Willapa Bay, where an abundant source of oysters supported a booming shellfish industry. Oysterville’s population peaked at about 900 residents in the 1870s. Today, a fine collection of mostly painted-wood, clapboard and shiplap sided structures with distinctive period architectural details remains, including two excellent examples of carpenter gothic farmhouses. Collectively, the historic structures dating from as early as the 1850s comprise a National Register Historic District. The success of the historic district has created challenges, however, as the idyllic setting and small town feel has drawn a comparatively high volume of new construction within the district. Though a local Design Review Board is in place to ensure new buildings are compatible with the surrounding historic character, some integrity has been lost. Complicating matters, Pacific County, which has jurisdiction over the district, has been unwilling to intervene in instances where property owners have bypassed the required review process. Those concerned with the long term integrity of the district hope to see the county
play a larger role in helping to support historic preservation in Oysterville.

Thayer Barn

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2014

Location: King County

Built during the Depression of the 1930s from a Sears & Roebuck barn catalogue and featuring a popular gothic style roof, the Thayer Barn is one of the few remaining dairy barns in the area and serves as a reference point for the community’s agricultural heritage. Yet, the barn has not been actively used for years, and sits dilapidated along the roadside. A decade ago, notice went out that the property would be sold for redevelopment and local advocates raised a sizeable portion of funds needed to rehabilitate the barn into a community arts center. The deal fell through, leaving the barn to sit untended. Earlier this year, the property did indeed sell and plans for a housing development are moving forward. Thankfully, the project sponsors have shown a willingness to incorporate the barn into the new development, provided advocates can come up with the needed funds. Presently, the Duvall Foundation for the Arts is working in partnership with the City of Duvall and the developers on plans for rehabilitation. In the short-term, advocates have been granted a temporary easement to shore up the barn. Long term plans call for the barn to be relocated on site. And a thank-you goes out to the Thayer Barn Project, a group of area residents responsible for nominating the barn to the Most Endangered List.

Downtown Sprague

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2014

Location: Sprague, Lincoln County

Originally called Hoodooville, the town of Sprague began as a sheep camp in the 1870s. Officially incorporated in 1883, the town changed its name to Sprague, in honor of Civil War Union General John Wilson Sprague, an executive with Northern Pacific Railroad which had a presence in town. In 1895, a fire virtually erased downtown, prompting the construction of modern fireproof masonry buildings following the blaze. Yet, even fireproof buildings need upkeep, and decades of deferred maintenance have taken a toll. On September 6, 2013, the easternmost building on the main block of downtown collapsed, forcing city officials to close down the street and condemn the entire block of adjacent structures.

Via the Most Endangered list, the Washington Trust was invited to assist. The 2014 Most Endangered listing raised awareness and spurred assistance in the form of a consultant donating time to assess the viability of rehabilitating an historic hotel building. The amount of money needed to bring the building back was, however, staggering. Local recognition that rehabilitation of the remaining buildings offered significant economic opportunity remained high. However, no large investment was secured and the hotel was unfortunately demolished, leaving just a few remaining historic buildings downtown.

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

 

Port Angeles Fire Station

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2014

Location: Clallam County

Designed by Seattle architect William Aitken and completed in 1931, the Art Deco Fire Hall was the first of three contiguous buildings that were to serve collectively as a city-government campus. Budget realities during the Depression, however, forced city leaders to scrap plans for the additional buildings, leaving the Fire Hall to serve triple-duty as the permanent home for the Fire Department, the City Council Chambers, and the city jail. Although the Port Angeles Fire Department moved to a larger facility in the 1950s, the Fire Hall remained in active use, serving as a juvenile home, Port Angeles’ first YMCA, the city Sanitation Department, a senior center and, until closing in 2006, a popular café. With deferred maintenance, foundation settlement, and seismic needs, recent assessments place the cost for core and shell upgrades at over one million dollars, with full rehabilitation likely to cost double that. Undaunted, city and county officials continue to champion reuse of the structure. Together with the former Carnegie Library (now the Clallam County Historical Museum) and the historic Clallam County Courthouse, in 2011 the Fire Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Port Angeles Civic Historic District, the only National Register-listed historic district within the city’s core.