Winter Construction Will Bring Welcome Changes to Northwest Maritime Center

We’re excited to announce plans to begin construction on two major projects this January, including a major remodel of the former Wooden Boat Chandlery space and a beach repair project! The anticipated completion for both projects is spring 2024.

The current Wooden Boat Chandlery store space will be transformed into a new Welcome Center designed to serve as the front door to our campus. Visitors will be able to explore new exhibits that narrate the maritime history of Port Townsend and NWMC. The front desk will become a hub for all our classes and activities, while modifications to the front door and dressing room will enhance accessibility and align with modern ADA standards. In addition, upgraded wayfinding signage will help visitors more easily find their destinations.

The Chandlery logo and brand will be retired. We’ll still have retail items for sale in the space, but it’s been years since we have sold the kinds of hardware and tools one would expect to find in a chandlery, and people would come in and ask where the Northwest Maritime Center was because it wasn’t obvious that it was all one in the same. The shift is going to make our mission and the maritime character of our community much more accessible. Over the years, we’ve evolved, and the new space hopes to eliminate any ambiguity.

“We have long hoped to make our campus more welcoming and accessible to those who stop by for a visit,” said Katie Oman, Chief Operating Officer of NWMC. “We are so excited to make these changes this winter and be able to celebrate Port Townsend’s unique maritime culture and engage folks in Northwest Maritime Center’s mission of providing transformative maritime experiences.”

On-site construction is set to commence on January 8, 2024. The Wooden Boat Chandlery space will shut down on December 31 and will remain closed throughout construction. Some items will be available for sale on our website and in the lobby of the Swan Hotel. Our admin offices and other operations will remain open as usual, as will Velocity Coffee. Please show them your support and continue to buy those lattes!  

The new Welcome Center was funded by donations from friends of the Northwest Maritime Center, the State of Washington’s Heritage Capital Projects program administered by the Washington State Historical Society, and a grant from the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area, for which we are a pilot project and official partner.  

“We’re thrilled to support the NWMC’s new Welcome Center, which will invite residents and visitors alike to dive into the region’s rich maritime heritage,” said Alex Gradwohl, Program Director of the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area at the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. “Port Townsend has long played a critical role in our state’s maritime story, and this new center will continue that legacy by connecting Washingtonians with the people, sites, and experiences of our saltwater shores. The Maritime Washington National Heritage Area is proud to partner with the NWMC on this project as part of our region-wide effort to celebrate, maintain, and share our state’s maritime heritage.”

Beach Repair Project

The beach repair project, partially funded by FEMA, will fix the foundation of the concrete pathway and beach stairs at the NWMC plaza and protect our main building’s first and second-floor deck supports after chronic beach erosion during major storms over the last 5 years, particularly the storm and king tides on December 20, 2018. The repair will involve repairing concrete steps and foundations, renewing upper beach sand and gravel, and placing new boulders to protect the beach and structure. Work should start soon and is required to be completed by February 15 due to regulations related to the health of our salmon population.

The spring of 2024 promises not just the completion of two projects but the dawn of a fresh chapter for the NWMC. Stay tuned for updates as we redefine our campus experience!

Welcome Center renderings courtesy of Weatherhead Experience Design. Special thanks to architect, Mithun, and Weatherhead Experience Design for the exhibit planning & design.