Lake Crescent Lodge
Historic Structures Report
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Historic Preservation Survey of Lake Crescent Lodge Cabins (Bldgs. 668-674), Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, Washington. Alfred A. Staehli, A.I.A., and Hank Florence for NPS, PNRO: February 1984


Architect Alfred Staehli, AIA
Historical Architect Hank Florence, PNRO


This study was commissioned to provide planning guidance for the preservation/rehabilitation of eight Rustic or Bungalow Style cabins adjoining Lake Crescent Lodge, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, Washington. The architects surveyed one typical cabin, No. 670, in detail as well as verifying the conditions of the others and collecting additional relevant information for assessing the condition of the whole and for planning their restoration and rehabilitation for continued use as tourist accommodations.

The eight cabins are included as part of the National Register Nomination for the property. Development Standards and Guidelines for Lake Crescent Lodge, Fall 1983, (PNRO) recommends that these cabins be renovated as consistent with preserving their historic qualities. This report contains the evaluation of the condition of these cabins, a schematic plan for their rehabilitation, specific recommendations for the restoration and rehabilitation work—outline specifications, and estimated costs for the proposed work as accomplished by a general contractor. The probable costs and program for the rehabilitated cabins is analysed and compared to approximately equivalent costs of demolishing the existing cabins and replacing them with new cabins similar in size and style appropriate to the historic Lodge site.


Site: Cabins occupy a wooded strip of land east of the main lodge. Behind them is an asphalt paved road and an open grassy field, used for recreation and athletics. The ground slopes approximately 6% from the road down to the lakefront, some 400-ft. north. Site is provided with relatively new water and sewage utilities services. Paths and walkways exist and are not included in this project. Vegetation consists of informal mature trees and shrubs and lawn, with some of the mature trees enclosed by cabin construction or in very close proximity to the cabins, such that some tree removal may be appropriate. There is no storm drainage.

Foundations: Precast concrete pier blocks or other masonry piers or footings, minimal, supporting wood sills or beams and the floor framing. Crawl spaces are very shallow to non-existent, such that access is difficult or impossible.

No sign of a drainage or other water problem was observed. Wood rot in the foundation framing was observed all along the east side sills and skirting where the roadway installation raised the grade and resulted in a higher planting bed, sloped down toward the cabin walls, with wood framing and finish materials under or at grade. Some occurences of wood rot in sills or floor framing may be expected because of the closeness of wood members to the earth, despite generally good ventilation. Some of the newer replacement wood members appear to be of pressure preservative treated lumber, although that fact could not be verified by clearly distinctive color or grade markings. Floors are uneven, although not seriously so, showing that settlement has taken place. The cabins are lightweight, and serious settlement is not a problem; leveling can be easily done and appears to have been a continuing part of past maintenance work on the complex.

Cabin floors require leveling and installation of new foundations with not protected timber sills and flashing. The clearance of crawl space grade to the floor framing should be increased to a minimum of 12" where possible, 18" is preferred, by excavating additionally within the foundation area. The floor levels should not be raised appreciably, the historic low-to-ground exterior appearance maintained. Floors should be insulated for year around occupancy.


The Lake Crescent Lodge tourist cabins are the typical early twentieth century rustic cottages or motor camp style buildings, one room with a bath, and a front porch. The cabins are of simple construction with their lavatory, toilet, and shower plumbing apparently added after the initial construction. They are suitable for mild weather occupancy and offer a distinctly different vacation experience from the more modern motel accommodations, natural materials and finishes, a sense of "roughing it" without significant risk of suffering, a greater sense of privacy and individuality in the accommodations (not necessarily a real quality), and several units with adjoining rooms more suitable for small families than the usual motel plan. Some of the surviving furnishings are real antiques, and a pleasure to see and use.

Noteworthy in the rooms is the traditional plan of haying the lavatory installed on a wall of the room, separate from the toilet-shower room. This arrangement of small room with lavatory, bed, chairs, table, dresser or desk, and a small attached toilet-shower room—compartment—does not compromise its sense of compactness and enclosure with today's planning devices of room-divider closets, offsets, bay windows (heavily draped), and by-the-square-foot artwork to give a greater sense of space than is actually provided. The sloping side ceilings reinforce the sense of coziness.


Cabin framing is basic, apparently intended to be economical, easily built, and not particularly long lived. 4X6 sills and a center beam support the floor framing of 2X4s @ 24"cc. Original flooring was 1X8 shiplap, also used for wall and roof sheathing (full dimension, not current nominal sizes). 1X4 T&G flooring has been added. Walls are 2X4 studs @ 24"cc. flat, a 1-1/2" wall cavity. The plate conditions could not be determined, but it is assumed that there is a matching 2X4 plate on edge at the top and bottom of the wall framing. Walls are sheathed and interior finished with 1X8 shiplap horizontal boards. The exterior walls are finished with painted shingles. Interior surfaces were painted with enamel and are now covered with either painted or natural finished 1/4" plywood panels with butted and eased edges (no battens) with the "Surf" or sandblasted face finish popular in the 1950s.

The ceilings are finished similarly to the walls, having sloping side areas and a flat center section. Ceiling framing could not be inspected, and is assumed to match the wall/floor framing, 2X4s 24"cc.

The existing exterior walls and finish shingles are in acceptable condition with minor repairs and repainting required, but not replacement. In order to weatherize these walls for year around use of the cabins, the removal of interior finishes and replacement with necesary insulation and new finish seems less destructive to original construction and to offer the greatest benefit for extended use and renewal of the cabins.

Roofs are framed with 2X4 rafters 24"cc., 8:12 pitch, shiplap sheathing, and cedar shingle roofing. Shingle roofing has been variously replaced and uses unpainted galvanized sheet steel flashing and aluminum sheet flashing in valleys and joints. There are no drip or edge flashings. Roofing condition is generally poor and will require complete replacement in a rehabilitation. Attention should be given to correcting the non-draining valleys between the adjoining gable roofs of two bedroom units.

Porches are original or original type (periodic replacement of structural elements is assumed) and should be rehabilitated with minor replacement of material. The porch roof/cabin roof eave joints require correct flashing installations to protect the structure at these joints. Deck foundations should be rationalized and replaced with the cabin foundations.


The existing well maintained varnished wood flooring is appropriate to the cabins and requires only nominal refinishing for its continued service.

There is a singular charm in the existing "Surf" pattern plywood interiors which is consistent with the cabins' historic style evolution. However, it would be impractical to attempt to remove and reinstall the panels in order to install wall insulation, repair plumbing and electrical outlet holes, and other damaged areas. To weatherize the cabin walls, it is necessary to either replace the exterior siding or the interior finishes; and the choice appears to fall best on the interior, where the finishes are more damaged and difficult to restore than for the exterior shingles. The original interiors were enamel painted horizontal 1X8 shiplap, a canary yellow can be seen. Installation of new painted gypsum drywall finish on the interior after adding insulating panels over the sheathing is the recommended treatment. The gypsum wallboard joints must be pre-planned to conform to a coordinated pattern for walls and ceiling and covered with wood battens, WM 957 pattern, would be appropriate.

All interior window and door frames should be extended in width to accommodate the added interior finish thickness and preserve the original reveals around these openings. Interior casings and base should be replaced with plain rectangular 1X4 and 1X6 finish casing and base corresponding to the original board interiors, replacing the existing "sanitary" trim used with the plywood.

Install appropriate curtain rods and curtains conforming to the original early Rustic or Bungalow decor: wood rods and curtain rings, chintz, gingham, monks cloth with stenciled designs, or similar appropriate materials. The wood rods without traverse draw equipment are maintenance free and would be more suitable than similar draperies on traverse tracks.

Rooms have wall mounted lavatory fixtures, a wall mounted mirror with wood frame and shelf. This "lavatory on the wall in the room" arrangement is traditional to early hotel and motor court rooms and is part of the nostalgic attraction of these cabins, despite its comparative inconvenience for current bathing and toilet habits and the room this subtracts from living space in the cabins. Relocating these basins into the toilet-shower rooms would require substantial alterations to the bath plans, enlargement, and relocation of the cabins further apart to gain this added bath area. Existing wall construction prevents the concealment of plumbing risers and wastes within the wall framing, and their concealment and weatherprotection by adding a narrow furred chase is proposed as an alternate.


The existing cabin toilet-shower rooms appear to be additions or substantially altered appendages to the original cabins. At the time of their construction, the provision of lavatories in the rooms, but toilet and bathing facilities located remote from the cabins, each cabin separate and not joined by a bath section, would have been normal. The original toilets may have been pit privy type housed in separate buildings with lattice screened entrances, as can still be seen at some remote campgrounds or rural filling stations. Showers, too, used to be provided in group shower buildings, separate men and women, usually cold water, and lattice screened.

Whether original or additions to the cabins, the existing facilities are inadequate, difficult to maintain, and in very poor condition, having ample evidence of continuing maintenance problems and frequent repairs. Their concrete floors are cast on wood framing, typically rotted, not level, and variously resupported and shimmed up with added pier blocks and cribbing of scrap lumber. It was not possible to examine the wall conditions of the toilet-shower areas, but it is likely that there may be substantial rot or other deterioration in adjoining framing which requires replacement up at least to wainscot height. Above the lower walls, the framing may be assumed to be sound and to not require replacement. Some of the joined toilet-shower sectionis have had their roof framing renewed comparatively recently.

Doorway head heights from the cabin rooms into the toilet-shower rooms are below tolerable dimensions, approximately 5'-6" high, real headknockers. Other than expediency when the doorways were cut into the cabin walls or the availability of a stock of under-height doors at a good price, no reason for keeping these doorways can be found. Nostalgia is not worth a cracked head. We could forsee no framing reason why the doorways should not be raised to more normal dimensions.

Reconstruction of the toilet-shower areas is recommended to make them substantial, more adequately arranged for space utilization, and finished with durable easily maintained finishes appropriate for public use and consistent with the style of the cabins. Concealment and weatherprotection of all plumbing should be planned.

Cabin units adjoin existing new underground sewer and water services, making the provision of those services unnecessary. Each cabin's plumbing will have to be replaced, but only out to the existing sewer and water connections. Frequently, these connections can be combined into one connection with branches to the separate units. Shut off valves and drains should be installed to protect and permit servicing each unit separately without interrupting service to the adjacent one.

LPG domestic type water heaters are located in outside closets beside units 669 and 673. A water heater is located in a closet inside unit 671. The water heaters serve their cabin and several of the adjacent cabins on each side. Hot water pipes are uninsulated, and runs may be up to 200-ft. long. The water heater closets are not well built and do not provide adequately for regular maintenance. The three water heater plan should be kept, but the connecting piping should be placed in a simple service trench or conduit and the pipes insulated. In addition, installation of commercial quality water heaters is recommended as is the looping of the hot water piping and its circulation with a pump which will lessen hot water waste and long waits by the users. The separate system loops should have connecting piping to provide for service on one heater while still providinig hot water to its normal service loop.


Electric utilities for the cabins are obsolete and should be completely replaced to modern standards. The exposed service wires running along the east gables are nostalgic relics, but are vulnerable to storm damage as well as complicating building maintenance at those points. A single sub-master loadcenter panel could serve the whole cabin complex with greater efficiency and safety.

Cabins should be wired with new wiring in EMT per current code standards and provided with more convenience outlets, better switched lighting, inside and outside, and required GFI protected outlets at lavatories and exterior outlets. Capacities of each circuit should be sized to serve modern requirements for small portable applicances and hair dryers, now a normal part of tourist baggage.

Electric lighting in the cabins should be rehabilitated to make it more appropriate to the style and to conform to contemporary lighting requirements. The original luminaires were likely to have been plain porcelain lampholder receptacles with either bare lamps or clip-on shades. The original electric lighting was not available unless the local dynamo was operating, certainly not during the day, and probably only for a few hours in the evenings. 24-hour electric lighting is now expected regardless of the historic facts, but continuing the single central ceiling fixture in each room and the pull-switch lampholder in the baths isnt historically correct and does not serve modern requirements. Changing the lighting from fixed ceiling luminaires to table and wall lamps would eliminate the present too bright overall fixture glare, make rewiring and maintenance easier, and put the illumination where it is needed, for table games, dressing, reading in bed, and toilet. Choose the replacement luminaires with care to insure that they are good quality and well designied fixtures, compatible with the style of the cottages. At least one wall receptable in each room should be controlled by a wall switch so that the lamp connected to that outlet can operate as the main room light. Toilet-bath room fixtures should be controlled from a wall switch.

Each porch should have its own occupant controlled porch light for evening use and safety when entering or leaving at night. Low intensity, well shielded, grounds and pathway lighting would be separate from the cabin lighting and separately controlled.


Heat for the cabins is by individual LPG convection heaters, a particularly unsightly design and one which is easily damaged by occupants. It is possible, and probable, that guests have both the heaters on and the outside door open at the same time, wasting energy. Thermostats for small individual units are not particularly accurate or sensitive. Unit type gas or electric convection heaters are slow to react to changing heating needs. They do not heat a space uniformly where there is frequent door opening and minimum building insulation, tending to produce a "roller coaster" temperature cycle within the room. These qualities of individual unit convection type heaters result in higher thermostat settings and leaving the heater on even when doors and windows are open for ventilation or extended movements in and out.

Control of cabin heating by a dual setting thermostat with a master control from the Office is recommended. Unoccupied cabins should be kept at a lower thermostat setting, set back from the Office. Upon letting a room, the Clerk would initiate normal room temperature settings from his control panel, and the heating system would raise the temperature to comfort setting (68F) by the time the occupant was settled in the room. This requires a fan assisted heater or system with ample capacity to respond rapidly to demand changes. In addition because of the recreational nature of this cabin group and the emphasis on outside activities, weather permitting, a door switch, could interrupt the normal room temperature setting whenever the door remains open for a long period. Such a control system requires only simple low-voltage equipment.

Use of electric or LPG heating is optional, depending on forecasting energy costs. The equipment and installation cost is comparable. Both types of energy have floor or wall mounted fan assisted heaters or furnaces available, and each can be similarly controlled. Architecturally attractive or inconspicuous installations are possible, offering, in addition, resistance to damage and low maintenance.


Wall installation of thermal insulation with draft and vapor barriers was discussed with the interior finish recommendations. The sloping side ceilings would be insulated similarly to the walls. Upper ceilings are insulated with unfaced batt insulation or loose fill to code standards. Floors should be insulated with unfaced batts or board planks. Existing windows and doors require rehabilitation and the addition of weatherstripping. In addition, windows and doors can have appropriate wood storm sash and combination screen/storm doors installed.


The existing sash and doors, with their types of operation, should be preserved. All doors and sash are suitable for rehabilitation rather than replacement.

Sash and door hardware requires substantial rehabilitation and replacement. Except for some of the original sash hardware and the old door mortise lock and latchsets, with the original knob and excutcheon trim, general hardware replacement is recommended. Locks and keying is a particular problem, requiring replacement with a masterkeying lock system, appropriate to the cabin architecture, and integrated with other cabin and room keying.

Preservation of the existing simplicity of the exposed window and door hardware is recommended. Concealed hardware may be chosen for its function and utility in commercial use.


None of the eight cabins are directly accessible by severely handicapped persons. There are other cabins at Lake Crescent which are minimally accessible or could be easily made so. One or more of these eight cabins could be made accessible with appropriate alterations to the porches and to the toilet-shower room, particularly its widening for wheelchair use and the provision of necessary grab bars. A handicapped accessible unit should also have its lavatory specially installed for handicapped use. Handicapped improvements were not included in the estimate of cost for preserving and rehabilitating Unit 670.


DIV. 0:

Require Pre-bid converences.
State historic preservation concerns and standards.

DIV. 1:

Access, storage, and parking.
Job office and toilets.
Utilities furnished at no cost.

DIV. 2:

Demolition and salvage, artifacts remain Owner's property. Architect to review all salvage and debris before disposal. Operation manuals, shop drawings, and as-built drawings. Regrade to clear sills and excavate additionally in crawl spaces, 12" min. clearance to framing.

Level and move cabins to proper grade and to make standard toilet-shower unit widths.

Prune or remove overgrown trees to insure abatment of hazard to cabins and occupants.

Prune and protect existing shrubs to save from construction damage, restore damaged grounds.

DIV. 3 & 4:

Construct minimum reinforced plain concrete or masonry foundations and intermediate piers to support sills and beams, provide anchors and ties, to below frost level.

DIV. 6:

Replace rot damaged sills and framing with pressure treated lumber.

Rebuild toilet-shower floors and walls as required.

Alter toilet-shower roof framing as required for standard width adjustment, reframe doorway.

Replace skirtings and damaged exterior trim, repair damaged shingle siding.

Fur walls for plumbing concealment.

Strip out existing interior finish to original shiplap wall and ceiling boards.

Rebuild damaged porch steps, treated lumber. Install finish frame width extensions for added interior finish, install interior trim, casing, and base. STD. & BTR. Grade Hem-Fir, S-Dry lumber, pressure preservative treated at grade or on masonry.

C & BTR. Grade Hemlock Finish trim, casing, and base. Provide simple wood clothes shelf and pole, wall mounted.

DIV. 7:

No. 1, Blue Label Certigrade WRC shingles, hot dip galv. nails, zinc or prime painted galv. steel sheet metal flashing, bundle dip treated in WRP before installation.

Add sheet metal roof and attic ventilators and foundation vents, with insect screens and stormproof louvers. Require edge and drip flashings.

Remove existing roofing, repair sheathings.

R—30 insulation in ceiling framing.

R—19 floor insulation.

R—4 wall insulation board added to inside finish.

Caulk and seal exterior joints with acrylic sealant.

DIV. 8:

Remove and reconditon existing doors and windows, repair, refinish, recondition or replace hardware, repair glazing. Install commercial weatherstripping.

Replace locks with masterkeyed system, with compatable finishes and design.

New butts for all doors.

Restore frames and add to interior reveal to compensate for additional wall finish thickness.

Install new thresholds with weatherstripping. Install Nord combination screen-storm doors on exterior entrances, with hardware.

Install inside mounted storm sash glazing, face mounted to existing sash in removable frames.

Remove all existing toilet-bath doors and replace complete with new frames and hardware to fit 6'-8" height. Match existing door pattern styles, AWI Custom Grade Fir or Hemlock stile and rail panel doors.

DIV. 9:

Remove existing interior finishes complete to wood framing or planking.

Install 1" R—4 thermal insulation board, fire and smoke resistant, and finish with 1/2" gypsum drywall or veneer plaster interior finish for painting.

Joint pattern to conform to pre-planned wall and ceiling patterns for batten covering. Commercial grade sheet vinyl floor covering in toilet-bathroom floor with water resistant base. Refinish existing wood flooring in rooms. Clean and repaint exterior wood and siding, 1-application of WRP followed by 2-coats exterior oil stain on shingle siding, and two-coats-to-cover ext. oil enamel on wood trim.

One coat preservative shingle stain on roofing.

One undercoat and two coats finish on all metal, flashing, etc., Undercoat and two finish coats interior wall paint on wallboard/plaster, natural varnished/enamel woodwork. Paint new building number signs, NPS and rental Nos.

DIV. 10:

Provide new toilet, shower, and lavatory accessory fixtures: toilet paper holder, shower grab bars, 2-towel bars, clothes hooks, utility hook, soap dish, lavatory towel bar, lavatory mirror and shelf.

DIV. 12:

Each room to have wood drapery poles at each window with wood curtain rings, similar on door lites.

One pair lined draperies at each window, Rustic or Bungalow Style pattern and material sill length.

DIV. 15:

Replace all drain, waste, and vent piping with new and connect to existing sewer lines in front of cabins. Replace all cold and hot water piping complete to new fixtures.

Protect all water piping with insulation from freezing and heat loss with moisture resistant pipe insulation. Conceal all plumbing installation within crawl and framing spaces or in furred chases.

Make runs between adjacent buildings in serviceable pipe trenches or conduit, underground; do not direct bury insulated piping.

Provide new light commercial grade water heaters with circulating pumps and looped system, installed on flashing pans to protect wood floor framing, quick recovery type (LPG or electric optional).

Install new wall mounted lavatory in each unit, new WC, and glassfiber reinforced plastic one-piece heavy duty unit shower stall, complete with all brass and trim.

DIV. 16:

Remove all existing electric wiring and service, complete. Install new consolidated electric service equipment and loadcenter panel for the cabin group.

Run new separate branch circuits for lighting and utility to each cabin unit and for heating and hot water utilities. Provide a hard-wired smoke and fire detection system and alarm system for cabin units.

Install new in-floor concealed fan assisted electric heating equipment with tamper-proof bi-level thermostats with office control of each unit.

New ceiling luminaires in toilet-shower, wall style at lavatory, and exterior for porch, switched on wall.


Unit 670:

Total Material,$4,377.00
Electrical Sub.,3,787.00
Mechanical Sub.,6,437.00

Total L&M,$19,768.00

Job Cost,$21,745.00
P&O @ 25%,5,436.00

Total Job Cost,$27,181.00
Cost per unit: $13,591.00
Cost per square foot: $27,181./405-sf=$67.00

Means, 1983, gives range of motel unit costs from low of $35.70/sf to high of $64.60/sf, median: $45.60; rental unit costs of $12,300.<$19,800.<$26,100.

F. W. Dodge Reports, 1981-1983: Motel, Deer Lodge, MT, 1983, 52-units, two story, $28.15/sf, wood frame. Motel, Tuba City, AZ, 1981, 40-units, two story, $47.04/sf, wood frame with stucco.

The proposed costs for restoring and rehabiliting Lake Crescent Cabin No. 670 appear higher than average because the cabin has a smaller than usual floor area. It suffers by comparison with costs for two story construction which have the advantage of combined foundation and roof costs, relatively less plumbing and electrical costs, and economy of scale.

Restoration and rehabilitation of the eight cabins east of Lake Crescent Lodge offers their special ambience and romantic/nostalgia qualities derived from their early style and "cottage" scale. These advantages over new construction with modern appointments are not easily quantified for comparison of construction costs, but the reported facts of the preference of tourists for these small cottages over more conventional and convenient rooms seems to make a case for renting these cabins after rehabilitation at a premium instead of a discount. It appears that visitors prefer these cabins even if not rented for less than newer units.

Finally, it is difficult to estimate the cost of a single unit out of a group and to apply its costs to the group as a whole. Many of the assumptions made are prejudiced by the smaller scale of work involved, the necessity to allow a whole day for a crew to perform a small task when they might take no more time to do the same for several units. A General Contrator who does most of the work with his own forces can make economies which a broker type GC cannot make. The Lake Crescent work is very suitable for the smaller GC who performs most of the work with his own forces, probably non-union (non Davis-Bacon complying) who pays at or better than the prevailing wages for the area, but not necessarily union scale with benefits. On a small project, these factors can make a very significant difference.

What is demonstrated, is that the Lake Crescent cabins number 668-674 could be economically restored and rehabilitated at close to the same cost as for their replacement with new units of equivalent capacity. If restored and rehabilitated at proposed, they will be substantial units, economical to operate and maintain, and capable of being rented year around—offering equivalent comfort to the visitors as would new units and a special vacation experience which only the little cottages have.

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Last Updated: 23-Jul-2010