Jul 2022     18.museum.php     Display Code

title:The Little Museum That Could

The Little Museum That Could

by Milt Lum, Staff Writer

QHM Website

The Little Museum That Could, aka Quilcene Historical Museum, is located in the unincorporated town of Quilcene, population 697 per the 2020 census. The museum was estab- lished in April 1991, after it was granted a land use permit of 0.8 acres and a building was donated by a local church. From its humble origins Quilcene Historical Museum has expanded to “ten acres of possibilities” which includes: an addition to the original museum building, a local park with walking paths, a historic barn and Model T garage, an outdoor stage, and a restored 1892 Victorian mansion. That journey up the steep slope of dreams is all about the commitment and dedication of volun- teers saying “we think we can” every year for 30 years.

Eileen Worthington moved to Quilcene in 1974 when she married Robert Worthington in an old Victorian mansion purchased by his family in 1907. Eileen became an integral part of the community and was a charter member of the Quilcene Historical Museum. A firm believer in the community, she supported the school and museum with her time and resources, earning her the distinction of being named “Honored Citizen” at the 2008 Quilcene Fair. In 2011 at the age of 92, she presented the Board of Directors of the museum with a two-year option of purchasing her family home and the ten acres of land upon which it was located for $287,500. She believed they would be “good stewards of the land and use the facilities and grounds to enhance the many new opportunities for our town."

Undaunted by the sum and graced with two years to accomplish that goal, the museum board members contributed their own funds to initiate the process. Led by Carol Christiansen, they developed a team to plan fund-raising events, write grants, and solicit donations from Jefferson County and beyond.

July 2012 was a major step towards meeting the deadline with the dedication of the Linger Longer Performance Stage on the future grounds of Worthington Park. Under the leadership of Bob Rosen, Linger Longer Productions formed a 501(c)(3) corpora- tion with the sole purpose of providing financial support for the Museum. The outdoor stage with twin totem poles carved by Bob Canterbury provided a venue for staging outdoor events and theater productions amidst the dramatic backdrop of Quilcene Bay. By then the project had secured $110,000 in contributions. Additional funding was obtained through a grant from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust. After meeting Eileen’s two- year deadline, the Worthington Estate became Worthington Park Quilcene. What remained was a steeper slope to climb: that of restoring the grounds and mansion to become functional assets for the community.

The century-old building needed a complete remake while retaining its old-world charm. The old cedar log foundation had to be replaced and the dense foliage and trees encroaching the building had to be cleared. To access the building safely, the utility lines fronting the property had to be placed underground. The formidable task of moving the mansion off its original foundation was met by a local moving company. With a new stable concrete foundation in place, project managers Chuck Thrasher and David Satterlee began the task of rebuilding the interior and exterior of the aged mansion. Restoration work meant maintaining the original Victorian exterior and restructuring the interior to meet twenty-first-century building codes. Retrofitting the interior to accommodate modern plumbing, heating, provide handicap accessible facilities, and a fully functional commercial kitchen while maintaining the ambiance of a nineteenth century residence required creativity and ingenuity.

A core group of 120 volunteers with a vast array of talents and skills logged 43 thousand hours of work to paint siding, search out and purchase period furniture and fixtures, groom the grounds, hand-dip and dry nine thousand cedar roof shingles, and numerous other mundane tasks. The results of their efforts were displayed for the public on a bright sunny afternoon in May 2022, when the Hamilton-Mansion held an open house.

The town of Quilcene can no longer be considered as just a pass-through place on the Olympic Peninsula drive. Worthington Park and its “ten acres of possibilities” with its newly restored mansion, green spaces, and outdoor stage is a declaration that this is a town proud of its past and is looking to the future. Take time this summer and make that short drive down Center Road to visit our neighbor. You will be inspired and rewarded in seeing what The Little Museum That Could has done.

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