By Sayde Moser-Walker
What do you do with an 80-year-old Coast Guard Lifeboat Station?
The possibilities are endless.
At least that’s how Kristen Penner and the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative feel. The Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative is a 501(c)3 non profit that formed in 2015 to preserve and restore the dilapidated building commonly referred to as “The Pier’s End.”
“It’s an important piece of our history,” Penner said. “One we don’t want to lose or forget.”
The United States Coast Guard built the Lifeboat Station in 1937. Back then it housed two 36-foot lifeboats and a 26-foot, oar-powered surfboat. At the time, these lifeboats were the mainstay of the Coast Guard coastal rescue crafts. A rail line allowed for the boats to be launched at a rapid speed into the water – fully manned and ready for a rescue mission.
But, by the 1960s, these rescue missions had moved to 44-foot lifeboats and the Lifeboat Station was obsolete. Eventually the Port of Garibaldi took possession of it and over the years it has served a variety of purposes – including a residence on the second floor.
In 2015, the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative took an interest in it and the conversation began about how to restore the 80-year-old structure – and what to do with it when it’s finished.
The Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative’s mission is “To restore and meaningfully use Pier’s End: Garibaldi’s historic United States Coast Guard boathouse, creating an inclusive community gathering place that enhances the Tillamook Coast’s economic strength, and to generate both educational and recreational opportunities for public-private partnerships to thrive.”
As part of their endeavor, the board has created a master plan to start tackling the renovations piece by piece – everything from the pilings to the boat launch to the pier itself. It’s a hefty job, to say the least. Just replacing the pilings is anywhere from $80,000-$100,000.
“We’re at this point after a two-year conversation,” Penner said. “The Port [of Garibaldi] has been very supportive and eager to see the restoration of this building.”
In fact, Port Board Member John Luquette dug up some historical photos of the boathouse when it was still operational. And they’re always looking for more.
“Kind of our ongoing project in the midst of fundraising is collecting photographs and stories,” Penner said.
She’s partnered with Rockaway Beach photographer Mike Arseneault to help facilitate this piece. Arseneault coined the hashtag #savetheboathouse and is using it to raise awareness of the building’s condition and encourage people to do something about it.
“There are no more lifeboat stations like this left in the Pacific Northwest,” Arseneault said. “It’s a treasure and we need to really take care of it before we lose it forever.”
The goal is to display the photographs they find inside the boathouse as part of an interpretive history of the area. A living museum, if you will, that can serve as a cultural hub and community space.
“We want it to be a useable space that at the same time can tell stories of the maritime history of the Bay and how Garibaldi came to be what it is today,” he said.
Renovation plans include the apartment upstairs, which has a full-sized kitchen and large communal space with epic views of Tillamook Bay.
“The kitchen will be important for catered events, and groups that want to include food,” Penner said. “ It really opens up the possibilities of the entire space.”
The Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative is planning a kick-off fundraising event in the fall, complete with live entertainment, a photography exhibit, and a curated history of the boathouse that tells its story and explains the fundraising efforts
To prepare for the fall fundraising and exhibit, Arseneault is asking any photographers in the area who would like to photograph the architectural details of the boathouse to join him for a one-day photoshoot. Those who would like an invitation to partake can contact him at email@example.com before July 25.
To learn more visit www.savegaribaldipier.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And of course donations are always welcome. You can send a check to PO Box 671, Garibaldi OR 97118.