Story and Photos by Lincoln County Historical Society
Renovation work at the Lincoln County Historical Society’s Pacific Maritime Heritage Center moved forward this week in spite of the rainy weather. A crew from “Penetrations Concrete Cutting” fired up their diamond blade saws and went about cutting the triangular-shaped 12-foot tall retaining wall on Bay Boulevard, just below the museum, down to size. Up until the early 2000s this wall surrounded the old Smuggler’s Cove waterwheel. The waterwheel, driven by the spring on the hillside above, functioned as an attention getting device for the nightclub. The wood waterwheel had long ago deteriorated and had become a safety hazard.
Planning by the museums’ Director, Board of Directors, and Building Committee for a new attention getting device and improved museum signage on this strategic lot have been going on for at least a couple years. Historical Society plans call for the installation of a giant 14-foot prop removed from the CW Pasley, loaned by the Port of Newport. The C.W. Pasley, a World War II concrete hull liberty ship was purposely sunk in the late 1940s to become part of the old International Shipping Terminal. The port removed the old Pasley in a major renovation of the dock.
Planning for this very unique and challenging project has been complicated by the fact that the Historical Society owns part of the lot and the City of Newport owns the other. Executive Director Steve Wyatt has found the project an interesting challenge, “There just aren’t any consultants who can tell you how to negotiate a loan for a 14-foot prop weighing several tons, and install it safely and economically in a public area that is owned by two parties.” Armed with a recently issued building permit, a grant from the City of Newport Tourism Fund, matched by the Doerfler Family Trust, tangible work is proceeding. All renovation work at the Maritime Center is done on a pay-as-you-go basis, incurring no debt.
The old wall extended far above ground level, partially concealing the museum from street view. A total of 2.5 feet was cut from the top. Removal of the west wall and a bit off the east wall should be completed in the next day or so. If all goes to plan the project may be complete by the end of the year.
The wall cutting is the first highly visible component of this project. Currently an engineer is designing a stand for the prop. The students in the Stone Masonry Program at the Angell Job Corps, headed by Mark Roddy, will be installing a natural stone façade over the reshaped concrete wall. Signage for the museum, a large anchor from a NOAA vessel, and a pedestrian friendly walkway will also supplement this streetscape project.
Fundraising and renovation work is also ongoing for the lower floor of the Heritage Center, which will include the Doerfler Family Theater. For more information call the Society at (541) 265-7509, or visit their website oregoncoasthistory.org or on Facebook, “Lincoln County Historical Society Newport Oregon”