Alexander’s Castle

We camped for a night recently at Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend. Fort Worden is a compound of former military buildings that now house a conference center, education partnerships, vacation rentals, and eateries as well as campgrounds and beaches. And in the midst of it all is Alexander’s Castle, shown above.

In 1883 the rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend, John B. Alexander, acquired 10 acres of land in this area and built what came to be known as Alexander’s Castle. He and his intended bride would live here after he fetched her from Scotland. Alas, she married another and he returned a bachelor. He used the building as a temporary residence. In 1897 the property was acquired by the federal government and the construction of Fort Worden began.

In the 1880s and 1890s Alexander held posts in the region as Honorary British Vice-Consul and Her Majesty’s Consul. In his later years he lived in England and died there in the 1930s. During military operations at the Fort, Alexander’s Castle was used for family living, as an observation post, and a tailor shop.

Story of the one dollar house

This story has two beginnings. One was on Monday when Fisherman Husband thought it might be too foggy to go fishing and went to his launch spot at Cline Spit to check it out. Sure enough: too foggy. So he drove off to check conditions at other launch sites. No luck. He came back to Dungeness Landing for one last look…just as a big barge was coming toward shore to offload the house you see above. Mind you, this is not a big, sophisticated marina. There’s a small beach. And there is a small, graded ramp big enough for a normal tow vehicle to launch a small boat.

The second beginning of this story was when these signs showed up along both sides of a road leading to the landing where the house came ashore. The signs declared no parking on either side of the two lane road from 10 p.m. Monday night until 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The dozens of signs were evenly spaced for 4.5 miles (7.25 km.) where they stopped shortly before the Dungeness River. Until the house appeared on the beach these signs were a mystery to us.

The journey of this house began in Shelton, a tiny community about 75 land miles (121 km.) south of Sequim on the Hood Canal. I don’t know what it took to remove the house from its former site but once it was loaded onto the barge it traveled about 115 miles (185 km.) south down the Hood Canal, into Puget Sound and north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca until it pulled into Dungeness Bay and was dragged onto huge skids on the beach.

There it began the final haul, towed by the truck you saw in the first shot above. While its journey up the beach was no cakewalk, the fun had just begun. Locals know the road at Cline Spit, a steep, narrow grade that is marked by a sharp turn onto a narrow lane at the top. At its final destination yesterday we met a woman who had, along with other locals, come out to watch the spectacle on Monday night. She reported that navigating the grade and the hairpin at the top had taken two hours of turns and see-sawing to edge the monstrous load around the turn, avoiding a fence, telephone poles, and mailboxes.

Along the way, a front corner of the house hit a tree. It seems a minor miracle that this was the worst of it as the caravan passed under numerous telephone and power lines and was wide enough that oncoming traffic wasn’t able to pass.

Yesterday it rested in its new location as workers propped it up from underneath. I’ll definitely return to see how it’s settling in.

So, a couple more details. This house was surplussed by a conservancy in Shelton. It was sold to its proud new owner for one dollar. Quite a bargain as long as you don’t factor in its travel budget to Sequim. We were told by the woman who’d watched the moving drama that the house’s trip ran a cool $300,000.

Update: The local Peninsula Daily News reports that the cost of the move was $162,000, plus utilities. The house, a 1916 Sears kit home, originally sold for a little more than $2,000 and is in largely original condition except for a 1970s kitchen. Here is a link to the PDN story.

Kitty B’s Lavender

My favorite lavender operations have a dreamy setting with nice views. Kitty B’s is one of those operations.

The farm is beautifully manicured and has the requisite gazebo that adds just the right touch.

Like most of our lavender farms, Kitty B’s has a residence on site. Its garden is a knockout.

That house…again

I’ve previously posted pictures of this house here and here. I thought I was done with it. But then came landscaping: trees have been planted on the three open sides around the place. My snarky side suggests they were a gift from the neighbors.

“A physician can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” Frank Lloyd Wright

Northwest coastal living, 2 of 2

I suppose if you’re going to the effort and expense of building a house in the San Juan Islands why settle for a humble cabin? We saw some fine dwellings on our Puget Sound Express trip. Some would be nice on any sort of site.

Others took advantage of the rugged landscape

If you’re going to go so far I suppose you may as well have room for a crowd.

No quick stroll to a grocery store or theater from these spots but I expect there are plenty of other diversions if you can pull off a house like this.

Northwest coastal living, 1 of 2

Lest you think the San Juan Islands are uninhabited, I’ll share images of some of the beachfront housing we saw on our trip with Puget Sound Express.

Beachfront property? Beautiful, remote island setting? Spectacular water view?

What’s not to like?

The settings are incomparable.