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EDITORIAL: The Queen of Quilcene

Jun 22, 2016 by Scott Wilson

The Quilcene Revival is in full upswing. The number of successful new businesses, civic activities, remodels and the associated community pride is on a sharp upward curve.

At the center of the hopes and dreams of the Emerald Towns of Hood Canal is the rehabilitation of the 1892 Hamilton-Worthington Victorian mansion, part of a 10-acre parcel that an almost all-volunteer crew is turning into Worthington Park, alongside the Little Quilcene River.

All of Jefferson County should take note of this effort and support it if possible. The end result will be a spectacular restoration of Quilcene’s best and largest Victorian home – 17 rooms – for events of all kinds, alongside a performance stage and a beautiful park. It will, as organizers Carol Lee Christiansen and Mari Phillips said, also spark another round of small-business development in the Quilcene-Brinnon area – a wedding planner, caterers, performers … the list of benefits goes on.

Here are the details: More than $360,000 was already raised by the Quilcene Historical Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to purchase the property and rebuild the foundation. Another $200,000 was raised to “raise the roof,” which included building a new third floor with Mansard roof.

Recently, the project was awarded $244,000 from the state Heritage Capital Projects Fund, administered by the Washington State Historical Society. Those funds are to complete the interior work of the building.

What organizers like Christiansen and Phillips hope to be the final fundraising drive is now underway. It’s called “Event Ready: Let’s Finish the Mansion!” It has a $250,000 goal, of which $42,300 its already raised, so there is just over $200,000 to go. Some of the expense is due to the surprise discovery of lead paint in the shell and siding, and the need to purchase new siding.

Perhaps you’ve already been part of the effort, perhaps you haven’t. If so, you should know that every dollar donated is very well spent.

Dozens of volunteers have been the backbone of the project. A conservative estimate places the total volunteer hours at 3,738 — a little shy of two years of full-time work. Chuck Thrasher and Kathi Boyker of Quilcene, experienced commercial project managers, are donating their time. General contractor Dan Nieman of Quilcene has the professional lead in the construction work and, like him, the organizers work hard to make sure the paid contractors and subcontractors are local.

If you aren’t familiar with the mansion and the Worthington Park project, it’s easy to change that. Every first Sunday of the month, you’re invited to a guided walk beginning at 1 p.m. The mansion is located at 151 E. Columbia Ave. in Quilcene.

Like so many others involved, Christiansen said she has “such a belief in it. I won’t let it go,” about the building she calls the Queen of Quilcene.

Isn’t that the way it always is in Jefferson County when there’s a chance to breathe new life into one of the county’s most important, best-loved places?

Find out more information at worthingtonparkquilcene.org, and get involved. You can also call the Quilcene Historical Museum at 765-4848.

— Scott Wilson

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