WESTPORT MARITIME MUSEUM
The Westport Maritime Museum is located in a five building complex in the Marina District of Westport. The complex is the former U.S. Coast Guard station, which was completed in 1940 and operated as Station Grays Harbor until 1972 when a new facility was built several blocks south. 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 property was acquired by the City of Westport in 1976, and after restoration was completed, it was leased to the Westport South Beach Historical Society for use as a museum in 1985.
The original buildings are registered as historic buildings with the State of Washington. The Westport South Beach Historical Society, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the South Beach, operates the museum and the Grays Harbor Lighthouse.
The main building houses the maritime collection of the museum; the first and second floors are exhibit areas and are open to the public. The third floor and the basement are working and storage areas.
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.
The museum showcases exhibits on the maritime history of the South Beach. Current historical exhibits include the Grays Harbor Light Station, the Coast Guard, area shipwrecks, rescue operations, and the whaling and fishing industries. Cranberry harvesting and logging tools are also on display.
Natural history exhibits include beach erosion, currents, beach combing, ocean, and marine mammals, two outdoor exhibits on the grounds feature skeletons of sea mammals, a scale-model of the former Coast Guard station, and a knot-tying display.