Port Townsend Historic Sites
Port Townsend Historic Sites
Like many young communities in the Puget Sound, Port Townsend aspired to greatness.
Calling itself the “Key City” and the “New York of the West,” Port Townsend quickly became a bustling seaport and customs gateway to the Pacific Northwest, with an impressive waterfront commercial district of stone and brick buildings and many elegant Victorian homes on the bluff above.
Although economic activity shifted from Port Townsend to Seattle, much of the 19th Century and early 20th Century remains intact. In 1976, the waterfront district and the residential area on the bluff were designated a National Historic District, and Port Townsend is today recognized as one of only three Victorian Seaports on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you want to explore the history of Port Townsend, your first stop should be theJefferson County Historical Museum next to City Hall downtown. In addition to impressive exhibits and helpful staff and volunteers, the Museum leads walking toursthrough the downtown and uptown districts, helping visitors to glean the exciting history of the area.
Some of the more impressive and notable sites to explore include:
The Rothschild House
- Located at the corner of Jefferson and Taylor Streets in uptown Port Townsend, the Rothschild House is virtually unchanged from a hundred years ago. Managed by JCHS, the home features original furnishing and decor. Learn more.
The Jefferson County Courthouse
- The Jefferson County Courthouse majestically overlooks Port Townsend Bay and the entrance to Admiralty Inlet. Approved for construction in 1890, the Courthouse’s deep red, smooth bricks were shipped in from St. Louis, and nearly 800 tons of sandstone were brought in from Alaska. Learn more.
The Port Townsend Post Office and Customs House
- The Port Townsend Federal Building – originally home to the Port Office and Customs House, is the oldest federally constructed post office in Washington state, and the only example of Richardson Romanesque design in a federal building in Washington. Still in use today, the building was constructed in 1893. Learn more.
Uptown Victorian Homes
- Strolling the uptown district of Port Townsend and sampling Victorian architecture is a favorite pastime of visitors and locals alike (although many of these historic homes are private residences – please respect their privacy). Learn more.
Downtown – the whole thing!
- The entire downtown core is a National Historic District! Look around and imagine yourself walking the same streets and seeing the same buildings more than a hundred years ago.
We welcome not only an extended weekend but the unofficial start to summer. The weather has been wonderful lately and will hopefully hold out through Monday. Regardless of what Mother Nature decides to throw our way us Washingtonians won’t let a little rain spoil our good time. There is the Shrimp Fest going on in Brinnon, WA the 24th & 25th. If you are looking for live music stop by the Quimper Grange to hear Portland’s New Iberians play Zydeco, Blues, Soul, & New Orleans Rock’n’Roll; you can even join in a dance lesson. Getting hungry? The 1st Annual Port Townsend Artisan Food Festival sounds delicious and interesting!
Does is seem like everyone is planning a tropical or exotic getaway? Wouldn’t you like to have a little getaway of your own? You can… and without blowing your whole budget. There is beauty right here in your own backyard. There are miles of beaches to walk and regain your mental balance and sense of calm (that frankly, I think we could all use right about now). If you need to warm up try something spicy or exotic at Khu Larb Thai or Hanazono Asian Noodle. If you enjoy tea, Pippa’s is a friendly place to visit. They have so many different blends you are almost certain to find one you like…make mine the Jasmine Green!
Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift? Surprise that special someone with a weekend getaway to Port Townsend. Jewelry is nice but why not give them an experience they will remember forever? I would suggest a nice bottle of wine from The Wine Seller, chocolates from Elevated Ice Cream and some beautiful fresh flowers from Petals in Uptown Port Townsend. Treat them to a romantic dinner at one of the delicious local restaurants and there is no going wrong.
What a better excuse to come to Port Townsend than to do a little holiday shopping? With so many wonderful and unique shops in our downtown area you are sure to find that perfect gift for anyone. Forget the mall….browse through local stores with a beautiful waterfront view. Some fantastic places to stop in are Wandering Angus, The Green Eyeshade, Henery Garden Center, Maestrale, Forest Gems Gallery and Tickled Pink. After a day of shopping be sure to check out The Undertown for a hot cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
With a little under two weeks until Labor Day weekend it is a great time to get over to Port Townsend to enjoy the last of the summer weather. The dahlias are blooming and just strolling through the Uptown neighborhood can offer some lovely views of water, gardens and Victorian homes. The weather this time of year is perfect for a weekend getaway… so why not plan one?
If you come to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula one of the activities you have to partake in is whale watching. Puget Sound Express has been operating for 27 years and leaves from Point Hudson. They have a few different tours to choose from. They have a 98% whale watching success rate and even have a guarantee on that 2% chance you don’t see any whales. In my opinion the boat trip through the area would be worth the money, but throw in guaranteed whale sightings and I am sold. If that hasn’t convinced you, check out Puget Sound Express on facebook and TripAdvisor as well.
Kick back with a cold one at Sirens. Opening at noon everyday, they have a fairly extensive bar and many brews on tap. With the best mixed drinks in town (try a Mai Tai or Mojito) and a deck overlooking the water it can’t be beat. While the décor may not be to everyone’s taste the food is definitely delicious, my favorites are the Texas Jalapeno Poppers and Sicilian Pizza, so good! A couple tips from a local, get there early if you are planning on eating or finding a seat. It can get crowded in the evening as they usually have live music. For faster service, order at the bar!