WSU extension moving into Cupola House
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Washington State University's Jefferson County Extension Director Laura Lewis hangs a school banner at Cupola House in Port Townsend.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — After 19 years in Port Hadlock, the Washington State University Extension Office will relocate to Port Townsend and take up residence in the historic Cupola House.

The office will close its old location at the Shold Business Park at 201 W. Patison St. on March 1 and reopen March 11 in the property leased from the Port of Port Townsend at 380 Jefferson St., in Point Hudson.

“We are excited about this because it will bring more people in to use these public facilities,” Deputy Port Director Jim Pivarnik said.

“And with the relocation of Fish and Wildlife and Customs nearby, we will have kind of a mini-campus where all of these partners are close to each other.”

The U.S. Customs Service is now in the port office at 375 Hudson St., while the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is scheduled to take occupancy in the building by Sept. 1.

“We are looking forward to having our headquarters in the county seat so we can form closer relationships with our partners,” said County Extension Director Laura Lewis.

Lewis said that outreach in other areas of the county — with points of service from Chimacum to Kalaloch — will continue, she said in a prepared statement.

That includes hosting regular office hours from 9 a.m. to noon every Friday at the WSU facility at Twin Vista Ranch on Marrowstone Island.

“We have a lot of outreach programs in the county, and those will continue,” Lewis said.

The new location is about 2,600 square feet, which is close to the size of WSU's recent location, Lewis said.

In addition to nine WSU employees, it will house the Jefferson County Noxious Weed department and the Sea Grants office, both which share the current facility.

The terms of the five-year lease are $1,700 a month in addition to a $3,400 deposit that is payable in two installments.

Lewis said that the move was necessary because the college could not afford a raise in rent on its current facility.

“We are only allocated a certain amount for rent by the county, and the terms of a new lease exceeded that limit,” Lewis said.

The 70-year old Cupola structure was until recently occupied by the Port Townsend Foundry.

It also is the original home of the Wooden Boat Foundation.

The building, with the distinctive cupola on its roof, had fallen into disrepair and will require renovation prior to WSU's occupation, Pivarnik said.

This includes paint, molding and installation of a heating system.

WSU personnel are doing the interior work, while the port is installing electric heating elements in anticipation of the March 1 move-in date, Pivarnik said.

The idea for the relocation came from Lewis last year but hit a snag when the city of Port Townsend ruled that the facility's zoning required maritime-based uses for all the buildings on Point Hudson, for which WSU Extension did not qualify.

Lewis and Pivarnik appealed that decision, and the city relented when reminded of the extensive water-based programs offered by the university, Lewis said.

The city's reversal occurred in December, which put the idea on a faster track.

The lease was approved by the Jefferson County commissioners on Feb. 4 and by port commissioners on Feb. 13.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: February 19. 2013 6:36PM
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