Northwest Maritime Center welcome center in the works

Renovated space will serve as information hub for activities

Joel Arrington, boat shop manager for the Northwest Maritime Center, looks at the bow of a boat he cut in half that will be an exhibit piece in the new Welcome Center being constructed in what was formerly the retail shop. The new space will have a smaller retail space with the rest of the floorplan devoted to exhibits. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula News)

Joel Arrington, boat shop manager for the Northwest Maritime Center, looks at the bow of a boat he cut in half that will be an exhibit piece in the new Welcome Center being constructed in what was formerly the retail shop. The new space will have a smaller retail space with the rest of the floorplan devoted to exhibits. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula News)

PORT TOWNSEND — The Northwest Maritime Center is undergoing a $575,000 upgrade that will see its Chandlery retail space renovated and new wayfaring signs installed as part of an effort to better engage with locals and visitors.

“It’s more welcoming to people and will be a better way to connect with them,” said Communications Director Molly McCarthy.

The decision to rethink the space came after surveys and conversations with visitors revealed that people had trouble navigating the NWMC campus, were unclear about its mission and were unaware of many of its programs. Many — including locals — don’t realize the NWMC produces the annual Wooden Boat Festival, which has been held in Port Townsend since 1978.

The space has been renamed the Welcome Center, and while it will still sell nautically themed clothing and other items, it will also function as an information hub to learn about the NWMC’s activities and Port Townsend’s maritime heritage. Among the exhibits will be a topographical map of North Olympic Peninsula waterways and interactive elements like signal flags on a rope pulley.

The main entry on Water Street will remain on the north side of the building, but it has been moved slightly to the east and will have an awning over it. The doors will be ADA-compliant as will a dressing room inside. Signs will more clearly communicate to visitors where they are and direct them to where they want to go. No more standing at the foot of the stairs wondering whether to go up or turn left.

NWMC sought as much as possible to keep the Chandlery’s footprint, but very clearly connect the feel and design to Port Townsend’s history and character.

“We wanted to re-use and repurpose the space and utilize local contractors,” Chief Operating Officer Katie Oman said.

A team from architecture firm Mithun’s Seattle office handled the design and Weatherhead Experience Design was in charge of exhibit planning. Clark Construction based on Bainbridge Island was the general contractor, and Port Townsend Sails and the Shipwrights Coop produced the fabric elements. Port Townsend’s Whale Song Signs is creating a compass rose on the wooden floor.

If looked at from above, McCarthy said, the space will look like a sextant.

The project is being funded by the Friends of the Northwest Maritime Center, the Washington State Historical Society’s Heritage Capital Projects program and a grant from the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area.

Coinciding with renovation of the Chandlery is repair of the beach that was heavily damaged during a king tide event on Dec. 28, 2018. The storm surge exposed the foundation of a concrete walkway and stairs that lead from the NWMC to the beach. The FEMA-funded repair involved pouring a new concrete foundation, excavating sand and gravel from the upper beach, and beach replenishment and placing new boulders to help the beach from further damage.

The new Welcome Center is scheduled to open the first week of May, McCarthy said. Details about the event will be released closer to the date.

The go along with its building renovation, NWMC has also welcomed an influx of new volunteers, “but we would always love to have more,” McCarthy said.

Those interested in learning about volunteer opportunities are invited to attend an informational session at 4 p.m. April 3 at the NWMC, 431 Water St.

For information, go to tinyurl.com/4h6twz33.

________

Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@peninsulanews.

More in News

Dave Swinford of Sequim, left, and Marlana Ashlie of Victoria take part in a workshop on Saturday about cropping bird photos for best presentation during Saturday’s Olympic Birdfest. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)
Bird spotting

Dave Swinford of Sequim, left, and Marlana Ashlie of Victoria take part… Continue reading

Annette Nesse, at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s main campus in Blyn in December 2021, is serving as interim director at the Dungeness River Nature Center, the organization announced. (Emily Matthiessen/for Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Nesse to serve as interim director at River Center

New position to begin May 1; organization will continue its full-time search

Sequim Wheelers, seen on the historic Railroad Bridge near the Dungeness River Nature Center, prep for a ride on the Olympic Discovery Trail. The nonprofit's season begins in May, and it has an open house for potential new volunteers on April 20 at the River Center. It also has an orientation for new volunteers on April 25 at the River Center. (Sequim Wheelers)
Sequim Wheelers gearing up for 2024 rides, seek recruits

Nonprofit looking for help during for 20-week season

Ashlynn Emiliani of Port Angeles, center, tosses woody debris into a pile for collection as volunteers work to clean up a section of hillside above the parking lot of the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles on Saturday. More than a dozen members of Elevate PA spent the morning clearing up overgrown areas on the hillside from Haynes Viewpoint to the hotel’s Front Street driveway as part of a city beautification effort. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)
Hillside cleanup in Port Angeles

Ashlynn Emiliani of Port Angeles, center, tosses woody debris into a pile… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

Operations set at Bentinck range

The Royal Canadian Navy has announced that the land-based… Continue reading

Pictured, from left, are Wolfe, May, Reader and Emily Fry.
May recognized with BEE award from medical center

Reuben May has received a BEE award from Olympic Medical Center. The… Continue reading

Schools open following contract

PAPEA, district reach tentative agreement

Port Angeles School Superintendent Marty Brewer, second from right, speaks with members of the Port Angeles Parents for Education, on Friday about the Port Angeles Paraeducation Association strike. Assistant Superintendent Michele Olsen stands at right. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula News)
District, PAPEA to pick up bargaining Sunday

Parent group presses officials for answers on strike

Instructor Josh Taylor, left, points out the workings of an electric vehicle on Wednesday at the Auto Technology Certification Program at Peninsula College. Nick Schommer, center, and Brian Selk get ready to do some testing on the electric auto’s parts from underneath the vehicle. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula News)
College's automotive technology program gets a reboot

Students can earn a certificate separate from two-year degree

Port Townsend transportation tax dollars to be put to work

Benefits district to raise $400,000 to $600,000 in first year