Fort Steilacoom is located on the grounds of the Western State Hospital, overseen by the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services, but is cared for by the Historic Fort Steilacoom Association, (HFSA). In 1978 the final four remaining buildings were in deplorable condition. Plans for the hospital included demolition of the fort structures. Preservation efforts, in the early 1980s, by the Washington State Historic Preservation Office, Heritage League of Pierce County, and HFSA restored these officers’ quarters, which became the Fort Steilacoom Museum.
HFSA began in 1983, when local volunteers raised funds and donated generously of their time and skills to renovate and restore the original officer’s homes that had been left in disrepair. The purpose of HFSA is to restore and preserve historic Fort Steilacoom; to perpetuate the significance of the site for the benefit of the public by operating a museum complex and a strong educational program stressing the role of the Fort in Northwest history.
Each month HFSA sponsors monthly events and activities to promote the history and personalities associated with Fort Steilacoom. HFSA is a non-profit 501c3 organization run by volunteers whose Board of Directors meet each month to determine the direction of the museum interpretation. Volunteers host various work parties, living history demonstrations, guided tours of the fort buildings, & lecture programs. While operating the museum, HFSA also operates a gift store that is open to the public throughout the year.
Over the years, historians have researched the history of Fort Steilacoom to provide an accurate account of life at the military post during its period of significance. This research led to an Interpretive Center Exhibit Plan in the 1980s. Volunteers and members of the Association’s Board of Directors have also worked to develop a research library, so further research may benefit the public at large and students of military history. Thanks are due to these individuals that have poured over research material in the quest to recreate a more accurate depiction of the first U.S. Army Post in the Puget Sound Region. As we continue into the future, The Historic Fort Steilacoom Association seeks to interpret and preserve the fort’s remaining structures and remind current and future generations of the fort’s contributions to the history of the United States.