The Administrative History of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
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Appendix D:

Furnishing of the Chief Factor's House and Kitchen

The furnishing of the Chief Factor's House and Kitchen provided the National Park Service with an opportunity to furnish some of the first reconstructed historical buildings in the Pacific Northwest Region. Beginning in the Spring of 1976, the park curator completed reviewing the furnishings plans for the two buildings, and using the draft plan with its recommended furnishings section, contacted antique dealers in the Portland metropolitan area to begin the acquisition of the over 2000 furnishings for the Factor's House and Kitchen.

Mrs. Ruth Powers, an Oregon City historic preservationist and philanthropist with an avid interest in Fort Vancouver, donated approximately 100 objects as furnishings for the Factor's House and Kitchen. When the local antique market was exhausted in late 1976, the curator travelled to the Washington D.C. area and Victoria, British Columbia, to acquire the "hard to find" English objects.

Unfortunately, one of the problems associated with the furnishing of the Factor's House and Kitchen was that the furnishings plan itself had not been completed to the satisfaction of the park by the time the buildings were actually furnished and open to visitors. The plan required extensive revision because it had not adequately focused on evidence of original Hudson's Bay Company furnishings at Fort Vancouver or appropriate reproductions to be used in the buildings. By the time the revisions were made and the plan was reviewed and approved in September 1980, the furnishing of the Factor's House and Kitchen was complete.

Furnishing of the Indian Trade Shop and Blacksmith Shop

Even before the reconstruction of the Indian Trade Shop and Blacksmith Shop, the park curator began the task in the summer of 1980 of researching and writing the formal furnishings plans for the two buildings. These plans would identify furnishings that would have historically been found in the buildings and recommend furnishings to be acquired after the buildings were reconstructed. The furnishings plans were completed, reviewed and approved in 1980. Unfortunately, when funds were appropriated by Congress for the reconstruction of the Indian Trade Shop and Blacksmith Shop, no money was requested by the Park Service for the furnishings. it appeared at first, that the buildings would sit empty. In early 1982, the park was able to secure $23,000.00 from the Regional Office to begin the acquisition of the furnishings. However, this amount of money soon proved to be insufficient to complete the acquisition of the furnishings for the buildings. The funds were soon exhausted. The park curator located furnishings, including large numbers of apothecary bottles as well as other objects that were needed for the dispensary/hospital. He purchased these objects and donated them to the park as part of the furnishings.

Fort Vancouver NHS Parking Lot

Beginning in 1989-1990, the park, with the assistance and strong support of the Cultural Resources Division in the Pacific Northwest Regional Office, began planning for the removal of the parking lot at the reconstructed fort site. This lot had been located directly northeast of the reconstructed north palisade since 1966.

The removal of the lot was contemplated for two reasons: one, fort site traffic raised dust clouds during the summer months, which drifted into the reconstructed buildings. The dust and dirt had a serious impact on the furnishings in the buildings, causing deterioration and damage to the objects over time; two, the parking lot was a significant non-historic visual intrusion on a historic scene--automobiles certainly did not blend in with a reconstructed 19th century Hudson's Bay Company site.

Regional personnel, including the Chief of Cultural Resources Division, Stephanie Toothman; Regional Archeologist Jim Thomson; Richard Winters, Associate Regional Director, Recreational Resources and Professional Services; Mark Forbes, Regional Emergency Services Coordinator; and Dan Nordgren, Chief of Maintenance; visited the park in 1989-1990 to discuss with park staff the logistics of moving the parking lot and also where to relocate it. Mark Forbes indicated that Region would contribute $7000.00 from fee collection funds to assist the park in the collection of fees out of the former interim Indian Trade Shop, and at the same time, move the parking lot to an area immediately south of 5th Street and east of the entrance gate leading to the existing parking lot.

With the arrival of a new superintendent, Dave Herrera, in February 1990, the issue of moving the parking lot was revived. Further study of the issue was undertaken and a number of archeological and landscape design plans were resolved before the actual move occurred in July 1992.

Under the direction of Park Chief of Maintenance Gary Bickford, a contingent of U.S. Army Reserves and Marines with heavy construction equipment and operators, prepared the site of the new parking lot. Within 3 weeks, the lot was finished and open to visitor parking. The new lot allowed the moving of the fee collection station and provided a dramatic new visual orientation for visitors.

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Last Updated: 02-Feb-2000