West Barracks buildings getting makeover

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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More than a century after they were constructed, four former U.S. Army buildings are making the transition to civilian life.

The Fort Vancouver National Trust is rehabilitating the buildings in the West Barracks portion of Fort Vancouver National Site to produce 32,000 square feet of community-use space.

The $6.4 million project is on budget and on schedule, Kaare Hyde, the National Trust’s facilities manager, said Thursday.

The city owns the property west of Fort Vancouver Way; the nonprofit National Trust manages it.

The 21,000 square-foot, two-story Artillery Barracks was built in 1904. The project is creating office space on the second floor and in the west wing of the first floor. About one quarter of the interior, on the east wing of the first floor, was remodeled into meeting spaces and a venue for events in 2011.

The 7,500-square-foot Infantry Barracks, built in 1887, is becoming 12 residential units. There will be six one-bedroom apartments (400 square feet) and six studio apartments (320 square feet).

The 1,800-square-foot Dental Surgeon’s Office, built in 1910, is being envisioned as a gallery and office space.

The 1,700 square-foot Quartermaster Storehouse, built in 1914, will be one big open space.

“We have not fully identified a use for it yet,” Hyde said.

If things continue to go according to schedule, the buildings will be ready for occupancy in about a year, Hyde said.

A separate rehabilitation project is going on across the street, on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. A two-story building is being converted into the headquarters of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. That portion of the former Army post is a National Park Service property.