Metro Parks Tacoma

  • Register

Fort Nisqually Granary Preservation

Fort Nisqually Granary Preserved For Future Generations

The stabilization and preservation of the Granary is the most recent capital improvement project at Fort Nisqually and was completed in October 2013.

This preservation was necessary as a long-term fix for the building’s decline in structural stability. Over the years, the Granary has had many moves and repairs. Its history includes a pattern of being taken apart and re-constructed repeatedly throughout its life time.

However, even with routine maintenance, it 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.

Granary-Front-View---beforeThe Granary holds a unique position among early original man-made structures that have survived in Washington State.

It can legitimately be considered the oldest standing structure in the Puget Sound area and it is also one of the very few remaining examples of original “post-in-sill” style construction in the United States.

Research has uncovered records showing that the Granary’s construction took place between July 1850 and January 1851. Today, this historic structure is an integral part of the fort’s education and interpretation program as well as a designated National Historic Landmark.

Structural engineer Wilson Hu, from the local architectural firm of BCRA, developed a plan for stabilizing the Granary for long-term preservation by adding much needed rigidity to the roof while retaining its historic integrity. The new roof system is made up of rafters, collar ties, and newly added steel sub-framing. Once the roof was stabilized, 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 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 future rot and keep away wood-boring insects, a wood preservative was also sprayed onto the building.

The final step was the replacement of rotted window shutters. Six new shutters were built and installed and the hardware was refurbished by removing rust and re-painting.

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.

Read more about  Granary: 

Back wall showing seperation of infill timbers from post

Tie beam tenon pulling out from cap plate

Infill timber and cap plate pulling away from corner post


Metal roof strapping installed in 1984 needs to be supplemented  and tied to cap plate



About Fort Nisqually Living History Museum:

Fort Nisqually was the first European settlement on Puget Sound. Established in 1833 by the Hudson's Bay Company, the original site was on the beach and plains above the Nisqually River delta in the present town of DuPont, Washington.

In 1933, major efforts were undertaken to preserve the fort's few remaining structures. Only the Factor's House and the Granary had avoided disrepair and decay.

The buildings were relocated to Tacoma's Point Defiance Park and several other buildings were re-created to present Fort Nisqually as it was in 1855.