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Did Washington territory ever have royalty? Unlikely. But Port Townsend has a castle.

posted by on 2010.04.09, under alexander's castle, architecture, context, design, history, wow

A few days ago, I talked about my family’s visit to Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Wash.

I always like noting that it’s on a peninsula, where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Puget Sound. There’s something nice about that meeting point.

One of the most fascinating structures that my family and I saw at the state park was Alexander’s Castle, a red brick castle with a turret-like top.

It’s one of those structures that you see and ask: What is that? Is that what I think it is? How did that get here?

Then, obviously, you walk closer.

We did.

We learned something pretty fascinating about how the castle arrived on Point Wilson in what was then a territory – and an entry point for vessels heading toward Seattle.

One noteworthy fact about the castle is its top – apparently used to catch rain water to be used later.

Consider it as a forerunner to all the rain barrels that many in the Seattle area have to collect rain water from their top of their homes.

Or, you can consider it a giant brick rain barrel of sorts.

Here is more history from a nearby park sign:

John B. Alexander served as a rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend from 1882-1886. In 1883, he acquired 10 acres of land near Port Wilson and constructed the building known as Alexander’s Castle. Alexander intended the building to serve as a home for himself and his bride. Traveling to Scotland, Alexander found that his bride-to-be had married another. He returned to Port Townsend alone and used the building as a temporary residence. The property was acquired by the federal government in 1897 and construction of Fort Worden began that same year.

Yes, that must have been a long return trip to Port Townsend for Alexander.

When the military used the building, the tower served as an observation post, tailor shop, a place to live and Post Exchange.

Longtime Seattle-area residents might be familiar with this park and the castle.

It’s new to me.

I grew up in California – and I’ve always liked history no matter where I’ve lived or traveled.

In the 1880s, the port, as I noted, served as an entry point for ships heading to Seattle. As a result, many countries had “honorary counsul positions” in the area to help with international trade.

One great part about the Alexander’s Castle is that it – as well as other former military buildings at the park – can be rented for getaways.

The park serves as a convention center and it’s open to members of the public for a waterfront adventure.

The castle has one bedroom and one bathroom and can house two people per night, according to the Fort Worden State Park Conference Center.

It costs $260 per night – and prices might change.

Nearby, another park house for rent is the Blissful Vista – which gives a sweeping view of the water. That can house three people each night and rents for a listed price of $279.50 per night.

If you’re interested, call the conference center at (360) 344-4434 or visit the center’s Web site.

Another thing, if you rent or visit the castle and like trees, you’re in luck.

There are trees, as you can see below, behind the castle – as well in other parts of the park.

There’s a lighthouse, former gun batteries to explore and a huge parade ground to chase balls, fly kites and toss plastic discs.

But remember to look at the castle tower.

It is possible that Washington state or the territory had some form of royalty.

I might not have heard about that fact.

The only story I came across is from HistoryLink.org – about the King of Norway who visited Seattle in May 1969.

When he was a prince, he visited Seattle in 1939 and 1942, according to the article.

It’s a side note but here’s one passage from the HistoryLink.org entry about that 1969 visit that I found interesting:

At the UW, a group of demonstrators waited for the king with signs reading ‘Scandanavia Unite as a Neutral Republic’ and scuffled with another group of students who tore up their signs. The king did not see the confrontation.

I didn’t realize that there was a movement, at one point, for Scandanavia to be one, neutral republic. Now, I know.

Over the years, I’ve seen or heard about various castles.

In California, there’s Hearst Castle – which is now a state park.

When I visited the opulent castle built by William Randolph Hearst, the media baron, I stood by one of the buildings, gazed at it and told my friend: “This a great castle. Look at this entry way.”

My friend, who lives in the area, replied: “That’s a guest house.”

LEGO fans know that you can use the plastic bricks to make various castles, including this one, this one and this one (and thanks to the various blogs for posting images).

California also has the Disneyland castle, where reality and fantasy meet.

That castle was modeled after King Ludwig’s enormous, impressive turret-topped structure in Germany.

I have had the good fortune to visit this castle. What I remember is that one of the bed frames inside the castle had been carved out of wood.

Do you know what sat on top of this wooden frame?

A replica of King Ludwig’s castle – the one that visitors were standing in.

For some reason, seeing Alexander’s Castle also was memorable.

Yes, I like castles.

Right now, I’m going to take a break from talking about them.

I’m going to go shopping for some apples.

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