Check out this cool video from Comcast's "Neighborhoods" show about Steilacoom's historic buildings!
Current Hours: Saturdays and Sundays
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
March 31st through October 31st
2:00PM - 5:00 PM during Farmer's Market Wednesdays
We will also be open 2:00 – 5:00 on Wednesdays during the Farmers Market starting June 20. If you’re not sure of the hours on any particular day, look for Uncle Sam
Steilacoom’s Maritime Heritage
SHMA members received a mini newsletter in May on “Celebrating Steilacoom’s Maritime Heritage.” The celebration was this past weekend with three special activities. The focal point of the festivities was the arrival of the new Damariscove exhibit. The schooner Damaris¬cove sailed from Maine to San Francisco in 1849 – 1850 and was purchased by one of Steila¬coom’s founders, Lafayette Balch, in 1851. It carried lumber from Steilacoom to San Francisco and returned with goods for sale at Balch’s store.
The exhibit features a model of the schooner which was constructed and shipped to Steilacoom thanks to many generous donors. With the model came its maker, model ship-wright Earland Morrill of New Hampshire. Earl made a few repairs to fix damage from the shipping and participated in all three activities.
Act 1 of the weekend celebration was the unveiling of the model and the exhibit. On Friday evening, June 8, the donors were invited to a sneak preview. Curator Joan Curtis and Earl discussed the history of the ship, SHMA’s interest in local maritime history, and the construction of the model. The event was capped off with the grand unveiling by Joan and Earl. The rest of the evening was spent learning some of the details of construction of both a full size schooner and the model.
On Saturday, nearly 100 people attended Act 2 ‒ talks by local historians Randolph Stilson and Les Eldridge on the history of the Damariscove. Randy was a descendant of two of the
original crew on the Damar¬iscove’s voyage from Maine. He co-authored a book with another descen¬dant, Roxann Rhea, Ship to Golden Shore: A Chronicle of the Schooner Damariscove, Her Men and Her “Afterlife” 1849-1854. If you missed his detailed talk, the book is available in PDF format and can be downloaded at no cost at www.sos.wa.gov/library/publications_detail.aspx?p=76
Les Eldridge taught maritime history for 30 years and co-authored a book on the 1841 Wilkes Expedition (for more information on Wilkes, see our new exhibit, “Before the Town”). Among other historical notes, he related the story of the Damariscove’s and Balch’s role in the 1851 rescue of gold miners who had been held for ransom by Haida Indians in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Because the schooner was “armed” with cannon from Fort Steilacoom for this venture, it was considered only the second time a United States “warship” sailed in Puget Sound.
Act 3 was on Sunday afternoon at the Museum’s Education Room. SHMA member Daniel Sebers, who first linked us up with Earl Morrill, introduced him. Earl gave a presentation on building the Damariscove. He recounted steps he took that would have also been done by the original builders, from laying the keel to planking and rigging. Earl had many fascinating details, such as what wood was used for different purposes (hemlock for the keel’s “shoe,” sycamore for the cabin walls, white pine for the planking that was shipped from the south by the US government to encourage ship building).
Earl’s presentation made us realize the level of detail and care that was put into our latest acquisition.
Unlike its namesake, our Damariscove will last a hundred years. The exhibit includes a plaque thanking the donors who made the exhibit and the weekend possible.
The 100th anniversary of the end of WWI will be on November 11, 2018. It is fitting that we look back and remember the young men and some older ones who came to the newly formed Camp Lewis and other bases. Some had never seen indoor plumbing or came from homes without electricity. They traveled across the world to fight in a country where English was not the local language. Now, you see what they carried and used and think about how they must have felt. And also remember those who did not come back.
Remembering World War I
The new exhibit, “Remembering World War I,” will be at the Museum through October.