Can the old barn buildings in Fort Steilacoom Park be restored and utilized in the future? How about the older cottages and other original buildings on the Western State Hospital campus, the original site of Fort Steilacoom? Is it possible and feasible to save some or all of the old structures?
Tuesday afternoon representatives of state, county and Lakewood met to discuss these questions and others relating to the future of the buildings as well as facilities themselves. DSHS agreed to develop an inventory of all the buildings on the properties and include information about the status of the structures.
Walter Neary, Lakewood City Councilman, disclosed the afternoon meeting as he spoke to a group of Lakewood Historical Society members Tuesday evening a t the Lakewood Library. Neary and State Senator Mike Carroll were speakers at a monthly society meeting during which they were to discuss the possibilities of restoring the barns. They discussed that issue as well as much more.
The city council member told the 30 history society members on hand that he had toured many of the buildings over the years and found some in dire straits. Several of the cottages on the hospital grounds were saved when Sen. Carroll was able to get legislative support to fund new roofs for them. Without those repairs the buildings probably would have fallen into such a negative state that they would not have been usable. With the new roofs they have been saved.
Neary said barns at the park as well as the old bakery, chapel and auditorium on the hospital grounds all need consideration. The chapel and auditorium are still in limited use but the bakery is in a dilapidated stage.
During the meeting, Neary showed photos of the original fort and hospital developments. At one point, the hospital had extensive farming operations as well as cattle, hog, turkey and chicken raising facilities.
Plans are to employ a consulting firm to conduct the inventory and explain the status of the facilities, the councilman said. Public meetings will follow as discussions get underway to determine what can be done for the buildings, to what use they could be put, what should be done and what kind of investment will be required.
Next month, the Lakewood Historical Society will hear about the life and times of the late Admiral James Russell or Lakewood. The meeting will also take place at the Lakewood Library at 7 pm, July 15. Relatives of Admiral Russell will discuss his life experiences in growing up in Lakewood and his extensive military career.