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Port Gamble construction dice rolling again

PORT GAMBLE — When visiting the historic mill town for any of its many annual summer events, returning tourists and residents may notice a few user-friendly changes to the large green spaces and popular church.

Two new pavilions are being installed in the community, one near the waterfront on Walker Street and the other adjacent to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which is in the process of getting a new look, inside and out.

However, before the rush of summer events begins, residents will have a chance to get a sneak peek at these new changes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 27.

“The open house is to show everyone what we’ve done,” said Port Gamble event and wedding coordinator Julie McAfee.

Within the church, the basement community hall has already seen a face lift and the outside of the building will soon receive similar treatment.

The basement is now much more welcoming and refreshing than before, McAfee said. The transformation from white concrete walls, fluorescent lighting and a dark brown linoleum floor to light brown beadboard walls with white trim, antique light fixtures and a brand new light-colored linoleum floor has made all the difference in the world, she said.

“It just made it more ... warmer,” McAfee said of the touch ups.

A solid wood, hand-carved vanity from the old Puget Hotel, which once housed visitors in Port Gamble in the early 1900s, sits in the corner of the basement as part of a make-shift but elegant changing room, she said. The kitchen in the community hall also received a new floor and a refrigerator and both the men’s and women’s bathrooms were remodeled as well.

The revamped room will get plenty of use, too, as it is not only used for wedding gatherings but for coffee hour on Sunday afternoons after church services.

Outside, the wrought iron railings that once welcomed visitors at the entrance of the church have been replaced with wood railings. A new concrete sidewalk was installed from the parking lot to the entrance of the church. The pavement wraps around to the north side of the church to the new pavilion.

The 30-foot by 40-foot structure is made of stamped concrete and was sculpted and finished to look like slate, McAfee said.

While the pavilion appears small, it comfortably seats 130 people, McAfee explained, providing more space for wedding parties and receptions and other community events.

Crews will soon prep St. Paul’s and give it a new coat of paint. This work is expected to be completed by May, McAfee added.

Down the street along the waterfront in the heart of town is the second concrete platform, the starting grounds of the Buena Vista Pavilion.

“We have a lot of people who have approached us for outdoor theater, outdoor music, outdoor company parties, outdoor weddings,” McAfee said of the addition. “We thought, OK, we can make the most of the view. We’re trying to create a beautiful place for anyone to use for any of those things.”

The Buena Vista Pavilion is expected to be completed by mid-April and will have the same finish as the church pavilion, except the concrete portion will be 40-feet by 60-feet. However, the entire finished space will be 4,500-square feet with a peagravel and naturally landscaped border and a direct view of the north end of the Hood Canal and Foulweather Bluff.

The pavilion takes up a small portion of the green space that is constantly covered with vendors’ booths during summer weekends.

Port Gamble residents and visitors have welcomed recent improvements with open arms, and McAfee said she hopes the open house this weekend will also generate positive feedback on the newest changes.

“I’m pretty excited. It will be fun,” she said.

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