Vancouver Barracks renovation underway

Five historic buildings in project

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



Did You Know?

• The first elements of the U.S. Army arrived in Vancouver in 1849.

Five longtime military figures at Vancouver Barracks are getting back in uniform.

They’re actually five historic buildings, part of what a National Park Service official calls a “hat-and-jacket” project.

That means “a nice, tight roof and exterior” for those buildings, said Alex Patterson, facility manager at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Workers handling the jacket portion of the renovation are painting exterior walls, dealing with lead-based paint and replacing wood siding where needed. Some of the siding and exterior windows are more than 100 years old.

“The carpenter shop was built in 1906,” Patterson said. “It’s a beautiful building.”

It’s the biggest building on the north side of East Fifth Street, opposite the entrance to the Land Bridge Trail.

Most of the paint that will be applied on the exteriors is a customized color Fort Vancouver is calling Officers Row body, blended by Sherwin-Williams.

The project began with the motor repair shop, built in 1919. The 6,000-square-foot structure on the east side of Fort Vancouver Way, just south of the Artillery Barracks.

The other buildings are a quartermaster warehouse, another quartermaster facility that’s also known as the band building, and the Post Exchange restaurant.

The total contract cost is $485,820. When this phase is done, “Roofing is the next big element of the project,” Patterson said.

Additional work will be done before the buildings are ready for reuse, including new utilities. Interior work might include creating new floor plans for some of the former military structures.

“We want to keep character-defining features intact, but we understand that for reuse, some partitions might be necessary,” Patterson said.

The buildings are in the East Vancouver Barracks, the former U.S. Army post that was acquired by the National Park Service in 2012. They’re the most recent projects in Fort Vancouver’s renovation campaign.

In the last six years, 26 buildings managed by the historic site have been painted. They include structures in the East and South Vancouver Barracks, the reconstructed fur trade fort, the Pearson Air Museum complex, the Visitor Center complex and the Barclay House in Oregon City, Ore.

“This latest project is another important, highly visible milestone for us,” Superintendent Tracy Fortmann said in a news release.

Visibility is a significant factor, since more than a million people visited the park last year, Fortmann said.

During this project, the immediate work areas will be closed off to give the painting contractor a secure work area. However, the grounds and all of the publicly accessible buildings will remain open for visitors.

The work is expected to take about six months.