About Fort Steilacoom
A HISTORIC FORT IN A MODERN AGE…
A HISTORIC FORT IN A MODERN AGE…
Quarters 1: Commanding Officer’s Quarters
Quarters 2: Laundress Quarters & Enlisted Barracks
Quarters 3: Sutler Store, Junior Officers Quarters, & Hospital Ward
Quarters 4: General Site Orientation
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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.
Historic Fort Steilacoom exists on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish Peoples whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial and have stewarded this land throughout the generations. We offer our respect to their elders past and present.
Our association acknowledges the complex history of the Fort and its role in the colonization of the area. We are actively working to incorporate the diverse perspectives and experiences of all individuals and communities who interacted with the Fort.
Fort Steilacoom occupies an important position in the history of early America and the Pacific Northwest. The fort played a significant role in the settling of Washington Territory. Beginning with its establishment in 1849 and ending with its closure in 1868, Fort Steilacoom served as a beacon of American power and promise, promoting the migration of settlers to Washington & securing American interest in the region.
Located in the south Puget Sound, Fort Steilacoom was a part of an early network of settlements including Forts, Camps and Military Posts which were owned by either the United States or the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Learn more about the history of Fort Steilacoom in this history written by former board member John McPherson and other members of the board.
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