The Enchanted Valley Chalet, imperiled by erosion of the East Fork Quinault River, leads the list of structures named to the 2014 Most Endangered Properties list released by the non-profit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
Last year, the historic Electric Building in Aberdeen was named to the list.
The fate of the chalet is in the hands of the Olympic National Park and its future remains uncertain. The chalet is also on the National Register of Historic Places and proponents of historic preservation, hikers and other citizens group want to save it, preferable by moving it within the valley.
“…The 2-1/2 story, hand hewn, dovetail-notched log structure is significant for its association with the recreational development of the wild and remote interior of the Olympic Mountains,” the designation by the trust noted.
The Olympic Recreation Company completed the chalet in 1931 and operated it as a seasonal wilderness hostel for the company’s guide services to back country destinations throughout the Quinault River valley. Purchased by the National Park Service in 1953, it continues to serve as a ranger station and is the last structure of its type within the park’s interior,” trust executive director Chris Moore said.
Due to winter flooding, the river shifted course and resulting erosion has left one side of the building cantilevered over the riverbank. “Advocates hope the building can be safely relocated within the valley away from the river, noting that if the chalet were removed from the Enchanted Valley all together, it would lose much of its historic significance,” Moore said.
Park officials are conducting an expedited environmental assessment to consider the option of moving the chalet a short distance from the riverbank to prevent the structure from falling into the river.
Park public information officer Barb Maynes said Tuesday that park officials are nearing completion of the assessment, announced April 18, and expect to have it out to the public for review soon. “The option under consideration hasn’t changed,” she said. A second assessment will identify a more long-term solution.
Park officials must also consider that the chalet is located within a designated Wilderness Area, Moore noted.
“While such designation does not prohibit proper care and stewardship for historic resources, past litigation has park officials wary of taking action that could be misconstrued as violating the Wilderness Act. In the meantime, chalet supporters simply want to ensure future generations can experience the chalet in its original context.” he said.
Park officials are still negotiating a Memorandum of Agreement with preservation officials, Dr. Allyson Brooks, State Historic Preservation Officer confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Other historic properties being named to the 2014 Most Endangered List are:
• The Port Angeles Fire Hall, designed by Seattle architect William Aitken and completed in 1931. The Art Deco Fire Hall was used by firefighters until the 1950s and remained in active use until a popular cafe there closed in 2006. It, too, has erosion and possible seismic-related issues. It is on the national list as well.
• Oysterville, a town in Pacific County on the western shore of Willapa Bay, founded in 1854. “A fine collection of mostly painted-wood, clapboard and shiplap-sided structures with distinctive period architectural details remains, including two excellent examples of carpenter Gothic farmhouses. Collectively, the historic structures dating from as early as the 1850s comprise a National Register Historic District,” the trust noted.
• Thayer Barn, one of the last remaining dairy barns standing within the City of Duvall in the Snoqualmie River Valley, built during the Depression
• The downtown of Sprague, originally called Hoodooville, which began as a sheep camp in the 1870s, endangered due to deferred maintenance. A building on the easternmost end collapsed in 2013 and streets were closed for a time.
Though the road has been re-opened with improvements made to the sidewalk, and property owners have been allowed to re-occupy their buildings, only one business has returned.
“For the town to realize its hopes of economic revitalization, it is imperative for these buildings to be put back into active service,” Moore said.