San Juan Island
Administrative History
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Resource Management

San Juan Island N.H.P. is described as a microcosm of the NPS, with its important cultural, natural, and recreational resources and issues. The most constant management concern has been historic structures. In addition, the park is rich in archaeological sites and has a diverse museum collection. The park also has a rich mixture of natural resources with a wide variety of flora and faunal species, set within environments ranging from rock bluffs to prairie, and forest to beach.

Historic Resource Study

In 1972, Denver Service Center historian Erwin Thompson completed the Historic Resource Study for San Juan Island N.H.P. Thompson's study included a social/political survey of the island's historic events, as well as a survey of the architectural history of the two military camps. His social review also details the interactions of the Royal Marines and U. S. Army soldiers stationed on the island. Thompson's research is an excellent source of interpretive material for the park regarding everyday life and activities at both English and American Camps.

Thompson examined records documenting the twelve-year occupation by the U.S. Army and Royal Marines for information regarding the construction of buildings at the sites and their uses. Thompson was looking for any information to assist in rehabilitation and restoration efforts. In addition, Thompson researched buildings on the island rumored to be from the camps, assessed their authenticity, and provided recommendations for their potential use.

Thompson's research indicates the Royal Marines built at least 37 buildings at English Camp. Use and location can be determined for most of the buildings. In addition, archaeological sites exist which seem to be from historic military construction, but specific use is unknown. Thompson speculated that these sites could be from temporary structures that were replaced during the first few years of occupation. The most useful information regarding historic structures at English Camp comes from surveys completed by the U.S. Army after acceptance of the site in 1872. These surveys indicate which structures were fairly new construction and what the various uses of the buildings were.

The Blockhouse, Barracks, Commissary, and Hospital structures remain at English Camp today. The small cemetery on Young Hill also provides a poignant reminder of the British military encampment. Also visible is the stonework foundation of the officers' quarters, stone steps up the hillside, and the stonework remains of what was probably a bake oven. For a complete listing and identification of sites, refer to the historic base map on page 89.

Historic Base Maps

Thompson's research indicated that the United States Army built no less than 34 structures at American Camp during the 12-year occupation. Structures included the blockhouse/guardhouse, enlisted men and officers' quarters, a bake house, barracks, messroom and kitchen, two hospitals, storehouses, a blacksmith shop, granary, carpenter shop, school and reading room, bath house, telegraph office, shoemaker shop, cemetery, roothouses, the flagstaff, and the redoubt, among others. [1] For a complete listing and identification of sites, refer to the historic base map on page 90 for American Camp. Two structures, the Officers' Quarters and Laundress' Quarters, survived and have undergone restoration for the interpretive program.

Historic Structures Report: Architectural Data

In 1977, NPS architect Harold La Fleur, Jr. completed the architectural report for the Officers' Quarters and Landress' Quarters at American Camp, and the Hospital at English Camp. The study compared Thompson's historical research findings with data gathered by the University of Idaho archaeological field school under the direction of Dr. Roderick Sprague. Armed with this new data, La Fleur confirmed that the McRae and Warbass houses were indeed American Camp structures.

Both American Camp buildings had undergone substantial remodeling and additions over the years and it took the archaeological work of the University of Idaho to settle the placement and authenticity of the structures. By examining the structural evidence in relation to the buildings, it was determined that the McRae house was HS 11, Officers' Quarters. By the same methods the debate over what function the Warbass house served was settled. The field school had excavated an almost complete foundation for HS 6, Laundress' Quarters, which Sprague felt was an 80% match to the Warbass structure. [2]

English Camp Cemetery
The English Camp Cemetery.

La Fleur's report provided the necessary architectural data, floor plans, and recommendations for the park to move ahead with restoration of the three structures.


Standing on the edge of Garrison Bay, the English Camp Blockhouse is a well-known park icon. Probably used as a guardhouse, the structure is two-storied and at one time had a wood stove and a porch. The log base, exposed to the Garrison Bay tides and increased erosion, creates additional deterioration factors for maintenance. When the NPS took possession of the structure, there was evidence that the building had undergone some additional construction and BORDER=1 ALTeration following the historic period, most likely completed by the Crook family as they adapted the building to suit their needs.

During 1970, the Blockhouse was the first restoration undertaken by the NPS. The structure was stabilized and leveled. Logs at the base of the Blockhouse, deteriorated from water exposure, were replaced. The roof was replaced and the building whitewashed. Most of the structure's base-logs were replaced again in 1995 by a multi-park crew.


The Barracks structure has seen the most restoration and the most use. It was also in very poor condition and the structure underwent a major overhaul in 1970. The building has received periodic whitewashing and stabilization treatment over the years.

The Barracks has always served as the visitor station for English Camp. Staffed during the summer season and during special occasions by NPS staff and volunteers, the structure has been the site of regular slide presentations, exhibits on the camp and on site archaeology, and special events and lectures.

As a side note, during restoration of the Barracks, a small can of coins and valuables was discovered under the roof. Rhoda Anderson had informed Carl Stoddard that she knew her father had stashed some money in the Barracks during the time they were living there, but she never knew where. [3] Stoddard had told the construction crew to be on the look out for the stash, which was found and returned to Mrs. Anderson in a small ceremony.

coin and cash found in the Barracks
The coin and cash found in the Barracks, later given to Mrs. Rhoda Anderson.

restored Barracks building
The restored Barracks building.


Like the Barracks and Blockhouse, the Commissary is one of the three original structures to have survived at English Camp. Its condition matched the Barracks structure. Extensive restoration work to level and stabilize the building was carried out between 1971 and 1972.


The Hospital is the one structure at English Camp that had been moved to another location, three miles away to the Peter Lawson farm. It was later identified by the NPS and returned to the site for restoration.

Howard Lawson, heir to the Lawson farm, began negotiations with the NPS for the donation of the Hospital building around 1971. In 1972, he sold the property to James Mathis, who donated the structure in 1973. The structure was moved back to English Camp in 1974. Studied by Harold La Fleur, Jr. in 1977, the building's exterior was refurbished in 1978. In 1981, the building underwent further restoration to stabilize the foundation and replace the roof. During construction, another hidden stash was found, this time consisting of a small collection of coins, including two gold pieces, a diamond ring, and a watch. The items were discovered above a window. Three individuals claimed the find, which was turned over to the U.S. solicitor's office. It was later determined that Howard Lawson was the rightful claimant, since he had inherited the building prior to its donation.

In 1990, a Historic Furnishings Report for the English Camp Hospital was produced under contract for the NPS. Prepared by historian Florence K. Lentz, with Dr. William Woodward and Bridget E. J. Spiers, the document chronicles the medical history of the British Royal Marines during the late nineteenth century, drawing from studies regarding similar naval hospitals, and a history of the medical services at English Camp. The report determines that not enough information is known specifically about English Camp's hospital to refurbish it as a restoration. However, the report does offer other treatment BORDER=1 ALTernatives.

restored Commissary
The restored Commissary.

The Hospital after being moved back to English Camp, prior to restoration.

Other Royal Marine medical facilities from the late nineteenth century around the region are well documented through inventories and journals, specifically one in EsquimBORDER=1 ALT, British Columbia, Canada. One BORDER=1 ALTernative would be for the park to restore the interior to represent a typical Royal Marine medical facility and interpret it as such. Another option was simply to restore the interior for use as an interpretive facility, where the interior would undergo general rehabilitation but not include specific structural furnishings. The report ends by offering potential opportunities for interpreting late 19th century British naval medicine.

The Crook House

Historical Architect Laurin Huffman is right on target when he states that management planning for the Crook House has been inconsistent over the years. During establishment of the park, the NPS promised the island community some interpretation of Jim Crook's life and role in preserving English Camp. However, planning since initial development relegated that theme to a minor role. As a result, the house has been looked on more as an intrusion of the historic setting than as an integral part of it. Upper management in the regional office considered getting rid of the house BORDER=1 ALTogether; the cultural resource division in Seattle has long supported the idea of making the house a visitor contact station. [4] From a "historic scene" perspective, this is not a popular move since the house post-dates the military occupation. The house itself was recently determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places through draft documentation completed by Florence Lentz. But removal would be even less popular in terms of public relations. Local island history looks favorably on Jim Crook, not only in his association with English Camp but as an inventor. Regional Historical Architect Huffman recommended taking steps to "remove" the impact of the house on the historic setting of English Camp in a less drastic way than demolition: muted gray paints replaced the original white color of the house and landscaping was used to visually screen the house from the rest of the site. [5]

Crook House
The Crook House, painted its original white, overlooking the parade ground.

Until 1986-87, the structure was used to store park collections and what remained of Crook's large farm implements and machinery. With the final removal of Crook materials to the San Juan County Historical Society and acquisition of BORDER=1 ALTernate storage space, the house has remained largely unused.

There have been many ideas presented for the adaptive reuse of the Crook House over the years, including seasonal housing, administrative offices, or a visitor center with exhibits. A Historic Structures Report produced in 1984 details the Crook family settlement of the property and the life of James, who inherited the site from his father. The study also summarizes the architectural stylings and preservation needs of the house. The report stated that the house needed a top-to-bottom rehabilitation, done in such a manner as to minimally BORDER=1 ALTer the structure's historical integrity while bringing the building up to code for modern day use.

Suggestions for the reuse of the house included: recommended studies to incorporate the house into the historic scene; utilization of the structure as a visitor center, with a lobby, sales counter, and exhibit space; curatorial storage; and space for a ranger station, with an office, break room, and employee-use-only restroom.

None of the work recommended in the structures report was implemented. In 1991, studies were initiated to determine the practicality of adapting the house for use as seasonal housing. The availability of affordable housing for seasonal employees has always been an issue for the park. Ellen Gage, historical architect stationed at Olympic National Park, completed design plans for adaptive reuse of the house for seasonal quarters. Funding is currently being sought to begin implementation of the design.

The Redoubt

In recent years, the Redoubt has undergone study to assess erosion within the structure and the effects of decades of rabbit burrowing in and around it. The structure is a unique example of fortification building from the Civil War era, and is earning interest from military historians. Most structures engineered by the U.S. Army during the 1860s were subjected to actual wartime use, but this Redoubt never saw such action.

Under contract with the NPS, Dale E. Floyd, senior historian for consulting firm CEHP Incorporated, completed a report titled Comparative Analysis, American Camp Fortifications, San Juan Island National Historical Park. Finished in 1996, the report analyzed the Redoubt in relation to typical U.S Army fortifications built during the mid- to late 1800s. The report provides park managers with comparative analytical information about the structure and includes references for the park to utilize in its management and stabilization planning activities. In addition, the Redoubt was surveyed and mapped with one-foot contours to establish a baseline for future monitoring.

Officers' Quarters

Originally there were three officers' quarters at American Camp, one of which was occupied by Captain Pickett. A number of structures located elsewhere on the island were rumored to be that structure. In 1972, Thompson ruled out two of those structures. One was the Warbass house, which was determined to be a historic American Camp structure, but not Pickett's. Another was a house located near Friday Harbor, which Thompson surmised could be a structure from the camp. Even if true, the severe deterioration of the structure prevented a move to American Camp. [6] Lastly, he considered the McRae house, which stood about 900 feet west of where Thompson calculated all the officers' quarters to have been built.

During historic structures research, the McRae house was treated as an original officers' quarters structure, with some modifications. Later research and archaeological excavation confirmed early assessments of the building's identity as an original American Camp structure.

In 1981, the structure underwent restoration, which returned the exterior of the building to its original state. Post-historic remodeling has BORDER=1 ALTered the inside of the building, making interior restoration difficult; further research will be necessary if the park hopes to restore the interior of the Officers' Quarters and make interpretive use of the space. [7]

Officers' Quarters
The Officers' Quarters, 1970, (back, right) with University of Idaho field school excavations in progress.

Laundress' Quarters

Originally called the Warbass House, Thompson initially thought this structure to be the "Pickett" house or an officers' quarters. He determined the structure to be from American Camp, and like the McRae house it had seen additions and changes over the years. He determined that the structure was not an officers' quarters, for the original structure was too small.

Warbass had moved the structure to his property around 1875. Thompson guessed by its size that it was probably the adjutant's quarters or the telegraph office. The structure was later determined to be one of the laundress' quarters and matched structural evidence uncovered by the University of Idaho field school.

The last of the six historic structures to undergo restoration, work on the building began in 1983. It was also in the worst shape of all six and was badly deteriorated. A contract was awarded to NPS. Williamsport Preservation Training Center to undertake the work. Superintendent Hastings was extremely pleased with the results, stating that the project came in under budget and ahead of schedule. [8]

Robert's Plaque and other features

On a stone boulder next to the Redoubt, a bronze plaque honors Lt. Henry Martyn Robert, U.S. Army engineer, who was responsible for the Redoubt design. It had been mounted in 1942 by the Governor Isaac Stevens chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Formal dedication ceremonies were held in 1947. [9] The group honored Robert for his work designing the Redoubt, but also for his later military career, including Robert's Rules of Order, his most well-known accomplishment.

At English Camp, next to the formal garden, is one of the oldest bigleaf maple trees in the Northwest. In 1997 in was dated at 324 years of age. The maple is managed as a historic tree. Recently, the remaining trees from the Crook family orchard have come under the umbrella of historic tree consideration as well.

American Camp Monumennt
The American Camp Monument at its previous Redoubt location, with Superintendent Carl Stoddard

The two marble monuments erected in 1904 by the University of Washington State Historical Society still stand at both camps. In September 1989, the monuments were cleaned of lichens and stains under the supervision of the regional curator. In 1992, the American Camp monument was moved from its original location at the Redoubt to its current home next to the American Camp headquarters.

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Last Updated: 19-Jan-2003