In 1891 architects Batwell & Patrick designed a multi-purpose civic structure to house administrative offices, council chamber, courtroom, fire hall and jail to serve the needs of a city of 20,000.
Port Townsend's city council still meets upstairs, making this the oldest continuously operating city hall building in the State of Washington.
Completed in 1892 - the year before the town went bust - City Hall was often in a state of disrepair. In the 1930s, substantial maintenance was completed under the Civil Works Administration. In 1945 a violent wind storm severely damaged the building's towers and third floor roof structure. The city failed to fund repairs. In the late 1940s city workers removed the roof at a cost of $500.
During the 1951 Port Townsend Centennial Celebration the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum opened in the building. In 1966, a whopping $600 was budgeted for maintenance. More remodeling took place in the 1970s, funded by the federal government.
As the fire and police department, police court, jail and administrative offices moved to more modern facilities, the museum expanded into many of the spaces left behind.
By the end of the 20th century, years of exposure to weather, earthquakes, and stop-gap repairs left the stone, woodwork, plaster and brick dangerously
United by the understanding that a city loses its soul if it loses its center, the City of Port Townsend and the Jefferson County Historical Society raised funds to restore the building in 2005. At the same time, the city constructed a new adjoining building. The addition literally supports the old. Seismic bracing and mechanical systems intermingle to tie the two together.
The restored City Hall now stands as a distinct focal point in Port Townsend's National Historic Landmark District. It is a symbol of our town's stewardship and pride in heritage.
City Hall continues to be the place where we come together to chart our town's future and to remind us of its past.
The Port Townsend Wayfinding Project is being supported in part by a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
(marker photograph captions
· Officials pose with their new city hall building in 1892.
· Post Card of Port Townsend City Hall.
· City Hall in a very sad state, c1958.
· The City Hall building on the City Treasurer's checks.
· The decorative metal panels from the original façade were inspiration for the new City of Port Townsend logo, forming a connection between our historic past and our future.
· Artist's concept of restored city hall building, 1969. Restoration
was finally completed in 2006.
Images and text, Jefferson County Historical Society