Fort Worden Sales and Reservations Update 5.15.2020 -

As a result of Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home” order issued Monday, March 23, 2020, Fort Worden is operating with minimum workforce. We appreciate your patience as we are working with a limited staff. All messages will be received and responded to by our Sales and Reservations team.

Fort Worden is following the “Safe Start” phased recovery as introduced May 1, 2020 and will continue to do so through the course of this pandemic.

Please know that your leisure travel reservations can still be made or changed by contacting or calling 360.344.4400 x 304, Monday-Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm PST. We would be happy to review future availability for your stay.

We will continue to keep our guests updated on any changes that may occur and encourage you to visit for the latest communications.

Thank you for your continued support of Fort Worden. We hope to host your future Port Townsend visit as originally planned soon.

Latest Update from Fort Worden Regarding COVID-19 – 4.8.2020 -

Fort Worden is unable to make or honor reservations through May 4, 2020, as a result of Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home” order issued Monday, March 23, 2020 and the temporary closure of Washington State Parks beginning Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Please know that your leisure travel reservations can still be made or changed for May 5th and beyond by contacting or calling 360.344.4400 ext. 304 Monday – Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm PST. We would be happy to review future availability for your stay.

We will continue to keep our guests updated on any changes that may occur and encourage you to visit for the latest communications.

We appreciate your patience as we are working with a limited staff and all messages will be received and responded to by our sales and reservations team.

Thank you for your continued support of Fort Worden, and we look forward to hosting you soon.

Latest Update from Fort Worden Regarding COVID-19 – March 26, 2020 -

To our guests and customers:

These are unprecedented times, and our priority is to protect the welfare and wellbeing of our employees, guests, and community. We continue to adjust operations in accordance with Governor Jay Inslee’s directives to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 illness.

Last week, we closed our restaurants, reduced operations across campus, and were offering accommodations for guests who sought to visit and could still do so under the guidelines at that time. With the Governor’s “Stay Home” order issued Monday night and the temporary closure of State Parks beginning on Wednesday, the PDA is now temporarily closed for all public-facing business.

Even though hotel workers are considered among “essential employees” by the Governor, we can’t sustain the Fort’s hospitality operations without vehicle access to the Park. We strongly support the temporary closure of all state parks to help limit opportunities for social gatherings on State Park properties. According to the State Parks’ press release, all restrooms, campground and day use areas will be closed and vehicle access will be prevented. For the latest information about State Parks operations, please visit:

With the latest changes we also are now in the process of further reducing, on a temporary basis, the limited number of staff members who are maintaining critical operational functions. We expect to re-evaluate operations in early April based on any changes to the Governor’s orders.
Please check back with us often for updates as we continue to monitor and respond to the situation.

If you have questions regarding your Group Sales Event that has been affected by the closure, please email our team at
If you have questions about your leisure travel, please email

We appreciate your patience as we are working with a limited staff and messages are being forwarded if your contact is not currently working.

We continue to be heartened by people’s commitment to doing the right thing for the sake of the larger community. We thank you for your continued support of Fort Worden, and we look forward to hosting you soon.

Dave Robison
Executive Director, Fort Worden Public Development Authority

Fort Worden Updates Regarding COVID-19 – March 19, 2020 -

To our guests and customers,

We continue to adjust to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the entire world in some way. This week we’ve responded to Governor Jay Inslee’s directives on closing restaurants, limiting group gatherings, and social distancing. This means Reveille and Taps at the Guardhouse are temporarily closed. We are heartened by the public’s commitment to these virus containment measures because they will save lives. That’s what is most important.

We also want to let you know that we are still offering hospitality services for guests seeking overnight accommodations. For those who can make it to Fort Worden now for a getaway, please call our reservations desk at 360-344-4400 ext. 304 or email For those who can’t, we’re helping them reschedule for later in the year or into 2021.

The 15 Fort Worden partner nonprofit and for-profit businesses that are part of our Lifelong Learning Center are making independent decisions about their operations, many of which are closing temporarily. Those organizations are updating information about their status and program plans on their websites. Fort Worden partner websites can be reached via

Meanwhile, Fort Worden Historic State Park remains open. Visitors can still access the beach, bunkers and other park amenities with a Discover Pass or day-use pass. For the latest on state park operations, visit the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s website:

With heavy hearts we must note that most of our employees are on standby because of the financial loss the pandemic has delivered to the hospitality industry. With standby status, most of those employees can qualify for unemployment benefits almost immediately. And we are covering health insurance premiums through April 30 for employees with those benefits. Our crew that remains is focused on supporting our guests and maintaining critical operations. This decision was so difficult, and we look forward to bringing everyone back as soon as possible. Like the Fort itself, our team is resilient and we will lean on one another to get us through.

All of this demonstrates that the ripple effect of the virus is vast, and it also reminds us of how interconnected we are. So many people here and beyond need support, and our community needs to find creative ways to meet this challenge. We encourage you to consider the Give Jefferson Emergency Funding Campaign. The campaign is raising money for local nonprofits and community-serving government agencies so that they can increase their services to meet basic human needs and address unexpected financial hardships. Donation information is at

Take care, be safe, and stay healthy.

Dave Robison
Executive Director, Fort Worden Public Development Authority

Fort Worden Updates Regarding COVID-19 – March 18, 2020 -


Both Reveille at the Commons (as of March 20) and Taps at the Guardhouse will be closed until further notice in alignment with executive orders from the Governor.

We thank you for your patronage and look forward to welcoming you back in the future.

UPDATE on MARCH 16, 2020

Effective today, Monday, 3.16.20, Reveille will be open for take-out only and Taps at The Guardhouse is closed until further notice.

We are taking this action in response to Governor Jay Inslee’s state-wide emergency proclamation ordering the temporary shutdown of restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreation facilities. He stated that restaurants would be allowed to provide take-out.

We will adjust as these orders evolve and are defined and will keep you posted.

In the interim, thank you for your support of  Fort Worden.

UPDATE on MARCH 13, 2020

To our valued customers,

In these times of uncertainty, we want you to know that the safety and health of guests and employees are always a top priority. Now more than ever, our business is you.

We understand that with the rapidly changing updates on travel restrictions and cancelled or postponed public events, people vary in what they determine is best for them and their families. We cannot stress enough that we believe in responsible and safe travel. That’s why we are taking the following measures to provide peace of mind:

Enhanced Change Policy

While we offer flexible rates to our guests year-round, we also have implemented an enhanced date change policy during this time. Currently, we are offering a penalty-free date change, based on current availability, through 2020. This policy will be in place until March 31, 2020.

Environmental Cleaning Practices

As always, we are committed to upholding the highest standard of cleanliness. For the overall health of our staff, community, and visitors, we have increased deep cleanings on campus and instruction about best hygiene practices. Our staff are disinfecting high contact areas throughout the day, wearing gloves while cleaning, and washing hands frequently, among other best practices. We’ve made many changes in our dining areas to decrease shared contact points and increase distance among guests. Our strategies include following recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health, Jefferson County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control to prevent or respond to illness in the workplace should it happen here.

The Fort and surrounding community continue to welcome visitors and events. We are business as usual and cancelation policies apply. As we often like to say, it is a beautiful day at Fort Worden.

As we continue to monitor developments and navigate the challenging circumstances, we want you to know that you can rely on us always to put your health and safety first.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Dave Robison
Executive Director

Fort Worden Updates Regarding COVID-19 -

Dear Fort Worden Community Members,

We wanted to let you know of our plans with staffing and operations to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While we’re told that most people with this virus will experience mild illness, we recognize people’s concerns and the impact the virus can have on certain populations and are taking measures to help maintain a safe community.

As confirmed cases of the infection developed in Seattle, we increased deep cleanings on campus and communications about best hygiene practices. We are now implementing the next stage of our plan with news of Jefferson County’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. Our strategies include following recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health, Jefferson County Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control to prevent or respond to illness in the workplace should it happen here. We also have adjusted practices in our restaurants and dining areas, and on a case-by-case basis are evaluating the events that we provide. With this in mind, the “Crab Boil” at Taps on Sunday, March 8, 2020 will be rescheduled. Stay tuned for more information about this signature spring event and watch for updates on Facebook. Other events and operations are scheduled to continue for the time being.

We are committed to providing you regular updates as we work together to take precautions for the health of our community.


Dave Robison

Fort Worden’s Christmas’ Past -

There have been over a hundred Christmas celebrations at Fort Worden since its commissioning in 1902. Two that come to mind this holiday season took place in 1917 and 1918. One hundred years ago, our country had been at war for eight months (Congress declared war on Germany April 6, 1917) and by late December the fort was in the midst of a dramatic transformation from a bastion of defense for Puget Sound to an embarkation point for young recruits on their way to Europe.

Recruits were arriving at a pace beyond the post’s capacity to accommodate. The Leader’s daily edition of December 20th reported that no sooner had a contractor announced that his crew had completed a 32-building construction project than the Army offered a contract to build 42 more. In the meantime troops were stationed in tents on Artillery Hill behind the huge gun emplacements. Housing wasn’t the only shortage. Two days after Christmas 490 troops from Iowa arrived wearing “cits” (civilian clothes). The Leader reporting that “owing to a scarcity of uniforms the new arrivals looked somewhat out of place in comparison to the nattily clothed men who had been at the post for weeks or months past.”

Cramped quarters and soldiers in civilian clothes aside, the Leader’s Christmas Eve edition reported that “Christmas was fittingly observed” at the fort that day. A decorated tree was placed in front of 8th Company barracks and the 6th Army Band entertained the soldiers, officers, and their families. The festivities culminated with the delivery of Red Cross packages to all the artillerymen.

The upheaval of 1917 brought significant change to Fort Worden and Christmas that year for many was likely their first away from home. As the troops celebrated, it’s also likely they thought of their ultimate destination and what the year ahead would bring. The Christmas celebration in the coming year would be like no other.

A month after the War ended with the Armistice of November 11, 1918, Fort Worden was being overrun with troops returning from the war, all of them expecting to be home by Christmas. The Leader’s December 24th edition reported a record breaking number of discharges for the day releasing almost five hundred boys back to civilian life. Unfortunately, many of them could not find transportation up sound owing to the shortage of Seattle bound passenger ferries. No longer in the Army, the men filed into town looking for a place to stay. For those still in the ranks at the fort all the companies provided an elaborate dinner. The barracks were festively decorated and the menu was a big change from regular Army fare.

The Christmas’ of 1917 and 1918 for the troops could not have been more different. One was a celebration muted by the foreboding road ahead and the other was filled with the joy of coming home. The fort itself was changed forever. No longer bristling with big guns, many of them removed and shipped to European battlegrounds during the war, the post was transformed into a training station. A hundred years later, the holiday season celebrations continue at the fort in the peaceful surroundings of the park.



Pearl Harbor Closes Fort Worden -

When word reached Fort Worden and the town that Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii had been attacked by Japan and that a state of war existed, it was a much different reaction than when the country went to war a short twenty-four years earlier. The surprise attack in the Pacific put this world war much closer to home than the previous one. In 1917, when the U.S. went to war in Europe, the fort and community felt time and distance were on their side. In 1941, there was a strong sense the enemy was already inside the nation’s defensive perimeter.

“There is a good chance Bremerton will be attacked tonight,” declared Brigadier General James H. Cunningham, harbor defenses commander. He was speaking the night after the Pearl Harbor bombing to civil defense volunteers at the fire hall (now the Jefferson County Art & History Museum).

The grim message from the Fort’s commanding officer galvanized the town to action. A community wide blackout was immediately put into place and rigidly enforced. All military personnel were confined to the post, Fort Worden pulled back from the community and went on high alert closing public access and restricting all outbound communications. This included the fort’s weekly publication, the “Salvo,” issuing its last edition on December 19, 1941.

Interestingly, the hard separation between the fort and town came just as the community was preparing to dedicate the new USO Building at the corner of Water and Monroe streets (now the American Legion, Marvin Shields Memorial Post 26). Later in the war, the USO Hall would be a popular dance hangout for troops and townies. In the meantime, the fort expanded its on-site recreational services. Interviewed in 2004, Russell C. Weber of Sequim, a Fort Worden WWII veteran, reminisced, “When we first moved here, we were in pyramid tents at the south end of the parade ground right next to the bowling alley. We had a good time listening to the pins crash while we were trying to sleep.”

Just up from the bowling alley was the newly constructed PX (Post Exchange). Half the 100 foot by 40 foot building housed the PX, restaurant, and soda fountain, and the other half served as the general store. The soda fountain boasted of an eighty foot long “L” shaped counter that could seat 38 patrons. A hobby shop and library were also added and staffed to provide the increasing number of new arrivals with off duty activities available within the confines of the fort.

It would be six months before the initiative in the Pacific would shift from Japan to the U.S., reducing the fear of attack and allowing a relaxation of restrictions between the fort and the town. Today, Fort Worden is again a vital and accessible part of the Port Townsend and Jefferson County communities. Through the mission of the Public Development Authority (PDA), the fort continues to expand its welcome to nonprofit organizations, arts programs, campers, and visitors from around the country and the world. As a concrete and symbolic gesture of its welcoming and expansive nature, Fort Worden remains the only Washington State Park offering vehicle access to parking on the Fort’s campus without a Discover Pass, compliments of the PDA.


Castle Continues its Haunting Attraction -

Located on Madrona Hill in Fort Worden, the brick tower resembling a rook from a giant chess set has a long and storied past. The story starts in 1883, when John B. Alexander who was rector of St. Paul Episcopal Church (corner of Tyler and Jefferson), purchased land on a bluff overlooking Point Wilson from Mary Fowler for $250, payable in gold. According to legend, he built the home for his Scottish bride to be, and in a style reminiscent of their native country.

The story continues that Alexander returned to Scotland to fetch his fiancé only to find that she had married another. Returning to Port Townsend, he resigned from the ministry in 1884, and accepted the position as her majesty’s (Queen Victoria) British Vice-Consul in Tacoma. He continued to live in his castle home which served as his consular residence until 1892, when he placed the property in the care of Oscar Klockers and moved permanently to Tacoma.

Alexander’s departure from Port Townsend was felt in the social circles as well as the business community. James G. McCurdy, banker and local historian who had business dealings with Alexander, described him as “a physically large man, a charming bachelor, and a social lion at afternoon teas.” McCurdy goes on to note he was a natty dresser with, “a heavy jet-black mustache. He acquired the popular nickname of “The Jack of Clubs” because of the huge cane he invariably carried and his unusual physique and manner of dress.”

Leaving his castle in the care of Klockers, who lived on Jefferson Street (the house still stands), the three story structure served as a rental property. The upper floor with its parapet-roof held a large water tank and the basement a deep cistern for the collection of rain water. Unfortunately, no record of who the tenants were has been found because the late great local historian James Hermanson, wrote. “It was during this time the only known tragedy took place. A man who had been living there drowned when he fell into the cistern in the building.”

The Castle changed hands again in 1894, when local banker Colonel Henry Landes acquired the title and held it until it was sold to the U.S. government for the fort construction project. After the buildings and barracks went up all around the castle, McCurdy mused, “…before there was any parade ground, or officers’ row, or cluster of barracks, or guns on the hill, the Castle dominated this locality. Now the other buildings have deprived the Castle of the solitary dignity it had earlier.”

In 1908, Alexander was bequeathed a legacy requiring his return to England to serve as guardian to his orphaned niece. He remained there until his passing in 1930 at King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England (Captain George Vancouver’s birthplace).

During the time the Castle was Army property it served as the original Post Exchange (PX) and later the Post’s tailor shop. Joseph Bruzas, a Russian immigrant, operated the shop until the fort’s decommissioning 1953. The Fort Worden newspaper, the “Salvo,” noted in its May 9, 1941, edition, once the British Consul residence, now “….in the east-wing room where Mr. Bruzas sews chevrons and measures waists, there is little indication today that here the fastidious Reverend Alexander used to wax his mustache and adjust his Norfolk jacket, but weathered and deglamorized, the Castle carries on in its humbler role amid the bustle of the modern Harbor Defenses of the great Puget Sound.”

No longer the humble little workshop, the Castle now provides overnight guests with comfortable surroundings, amazing views, and a sense of history that enlightens the experience of staying at Fort Worden.



Fort Worden Looks for a Purpose Between the World Wars -

Following World War I, Fort Worden, like the rest of the nation’s military installations, experienced a rapid and extensive draw down of troops. By 1926, the fort was officially placed in caretaker status with fewer than 400 officers and enlisted personnel stationed on site. The big guns that were brought down from Artillery Hill when the United States entered the war in 1918, and shipped to the Front did not return. Although there were still some operational disappearing gun batteries and mortar parks remaining on Artillery Hill, the mission of the fort had changed. Advancements in aviation and naval warship ordnance technology made the country’s late-19th century coastal fortifications obsolete. It was clear to the Army that the defense of Puget Sound’s harbors, cities, and shipyards was not going to be well served by cannons alone. In 1920, the Army, in its search for a more modern role for Fort Worden, assigned the 24th Battery Balloon Company to the post and began building a balloon hangar. The high winds proved too difficult to launch and retrieve the observation balloon, so the 24th Company was reassigned, but since the hangar was already under construction, the project continued, although the building was never used to house an observation balloon.

There was a glimmer of hope for new life at the fort when visiting officer, Lieutenant Arthur Easterbrook, son of Army Chaplain Colonel Edmund Easterbrook (see April, 2018 article), announced the possibility of new arrivals. According to the January 8, 1920 Leader edition, Easterbrook heard that…” the 91st Aerial Squadron, composed of 24 sea and land planes plus 300 officers and mechanics would be assigned duty on Puget Sound this summer.” The planes and crews never arrived and a few weeks later the fort’s regiment was stunned by the news that fourteen of its sergeants received orders to report to Camp Lewis in Tacoma to serve as instructors. Losing such a significant number of NCO’s (non-commissioned officers), considered the heart and soul of the regiment further enhanced the rumors that the fort had no future.

Later that same month, in an effort to boost morale, Army chief of staff, and revered leader of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) General John Pershing, made a quick up sound trip from Seattle to inspect Fort Worden’s remaining troops. The general, along with an entourage of 70 officers and staff, arrived at the fort dock aboard the steamer “Kitsap II,” and motorcaded up the hill to the Parade Ground to review a provisional battalion of troops made up from the three forts Worden, Flagler, and Casey. The community was invited to attend but were required to congregate on the embankment in front of the houses on Officers Row. The Leader reported, when the General noticed the children encroaching onto the lawn and O Row Street (now named Pershing Avenue) to get a better look, “…the general waved his hand, graciously inviting the youngsters to cross the sacred ground provided by military regulations.” Following a quick lunch at the Officers Mess, the General of the Armies returned down sound on the 3pm sailing.

The decade following World War I, left Fort Worden, as one visitor observed, “devoid of spectacular features.” Today, managed by the Fort Worden Public Development Authority in cooperation with the park’s sixteen partners, Fort Worden is a thriving recreational and educational conference center offering a myriad of “spectacular features” in housing, camping, meals, and entertainment.