The Westport South Beach Historical Society was formed in 1984. Our main purpose at that time was to convert the former US Coast Guard Station into a museum. The original building was constructed in 1939 and served as headquarters for the local Coast Guard until they outgrew it and a moved to a new station in 1973. Designed in accordance with the Nantucket architecture standard for the Coast Guard, the 18-room Station has three stories, six gables, a watchtower with widow’s walk, and two foot thick basement walls. The Port of Grays Harbor acquired the building in a land trade, swapping with the US government for the site on which the new CG station was built. The Port eventually sold the old station and land to the City of Westport, and voters approved a bond issue in September 1976 to cover the cost of the purchase and necessary repairs. In March 1978, the old Coast Guard station was listed on the Washington State Register of Historic Places. The building was turned over to WSBHS in 1984 for use as a maritime museum.
The second of the original buildings, McCausland Hall, which was used as an equipment and service building by the Coast Guard, has been converted into a lecture/events hall for museum programs. This building is available for rent for meetings, wedding receptions, and other activities. McCausland Hall was named in honor of Bob and Ruth McCausland, two of the historical society’s founding members. The two Whale House buildings were constructed to house the marine mammal exhibit including a minke and gray whale. The fifth building on the campus, The Destruction Island Lens Exhibit Hall, was added in 1998 to house the magnificent Destruction Island Lens. Specific design criteria had to be met in the construction of this building, which holds the exhibit.
In 1998, the Coast Guard licensed the Westport South Beach Historical Society to conduct interpretive tours of the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, and in 2004, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred under provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Act of 2000.
Every year, we welcome thousands of visitors from all over the world to the museum and lighthouse. Ongoing projects include the acquisition of glass floats and other maritime artifacts, the archiving of thousands of photographs, and the curation of historically significant local art. We couldn't do all this without the help of volunteers, members, donors, and business partners.
Click here to find out how you can get involved.