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Granary Stabilization Project

The Granary is here to stay!       by Melissa McGinnis - Fall 2013
As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story about the Granary at Fort Nisqually. In the Spring 2013 issue of Occurrences, Bill Rhind detailed the history of the Granary including its many moves and repairs over the years. As he noted, even with routine maintenance the Granary had lost some of its structural stability. The walls were moving out of alignment due to time and the gradual downward pressure of the roof.

Structural engineer Wilson Hu, from the local architectural firm of BCRA, analyzed the building and developed a plan for stabilizing the Granary for long-term preservation. Since the Granary is a National Historic Landmark, it was critical that the stabilization plan meet the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation. Working with the City of Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Officer and Fort Nisqually staff, Wilson devised a plan that provides much needed rigidity to the roof of the Granary while retaining its historic integrity.

Just like the Granary’s original post-in-sill construction, the stabilization plan was relatively simple. Wilson designed a series of metal trusses that are inset between the historic wood trusses to help support the weight of the roof. These metal trusses are attached to a continuous piece of metal that sits atop the Granary’s top plate timber. This piece of metal eliminates any outward pressure on the walls of the Granary. At the same time,
the overhead cross beams were also secured to the metal band around the top of the plate timbers thus ensuring that they will not come loose and fall to the ground.

Once secured, the contractor was able to remove the non-historic upright timbers which had been installed for safety purposes. Today, the Granary again enjoys wide open room space as it did originally. In addition to these stabilization measures, a new cedar shake roof was installed and a small amount of skip sheathing was replaced due to rot and damage. To prevent rot and keep away wood-boring insects, a wood preservative was also sprayed onto the building. The final step will be the replacement of two rotten window shutters.

Monies for this capital project were raised by the Fort Nisqually Foundation (FNF) from private donors and fundraising events like Friday at the Fort. The FNF also received grant funds from the: Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Dimmer Family Foundation, Forest Foundation, Norcliffe Foundation, Pierce County Historic Preservation Fund, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. These monies were matched, in part, by a State Capital Heritage Grant received by Metro Parks Tacoma. Thanks to this effort, Fort Nisqually’s historic 1850 Granary will continue to educate and intrigue visitors to the fort for many years to come.