Victorian Festival to offer 'insider's tour' of historical spaces
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Mari Mullen, left, Dawn Pierson and Richard Probst explore one of the "Shangahi Tunnels" under Port Townsend.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — This year's reinvigorated Victorian Heritage Festival is continuing the programs that attendees know and love, while adding components that appeal to a more adventurous crowd.

Among the adventures is going to little-seen places.

“We are offering a tour of four historical buildings,” said Main Street Executive Director Mari Mullen, who is conducting the tour for the festival, which is set Friday through Sunday.

“This will be a real insider's look,” Mullen said, adding, “You will see a lot of places that aren't generally accessible to the public.”

A two-hour tour

The two-hour tour, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday at Quimper Sound, 230 Taylor St., costs $10 per person and is limited to 40 people.

It will take walkers into the nooks and crannies of four historic buildings:

-- The Mount Baker Block, 919 to 914 Water St., built in 1890.

-- The Hastings Building, 833-839 Water St., built in 1889.

-- The Elks Building, also known as the Miller and Burkett Building, at 237 Taylor St., built in 1889.

-- The 1888 Eisenbeis Cracker Factory, listed as having an entrance at 830 Water St., behind 825 Washington St., and at 234 Taylor St.

While the Mount Baker Block and Elks Building now house businesses — such as the Silverwater Cafe on the ground floor of the Elks Building — the Hastings Building is under renovation and won't be publicly accessible for several years.

And the Cracker Factory is a private residence, Mullen said.

The tour will go from the bottom of the buildings to the top; from the dark “Shanghai Tunnels” to the top floors with expansive water views.

“It can provide people with an appreciation of Port Townsend's heyday, and give them a sneak peek at the past,” Mullen said.

“Port Townsend was quite the boom town,” she added.

“There were 45 bars located on Water Street.”

This year's festival has new energy, Mullen said. The nonprofit Victorian Society in America-Northwest Chapter, which oversaw the 16-year-old festival from 2009-12, has turned it over to Olympic Peninsula Steam, which also sponsors the Brass Screw Confederacy Steampunk Festival in June.

For years, the festival focused on fashions and crafts. In 2012, it added a 19th-century prize fight with bare knuckles, fencing demonstration, antique gun exhibition and a Gatling gun demonstration.

This year, it will continue those innovations, as well as offering lectures on Victorian costuming, gardening and culture.

Mullen said she is excited about the presence of gardening expert Ann Lovejoy, who will talk about deer-proofing gardens at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Silverwater Cafe's Studio 49 at 237 Taylor St.

This kicks into the festival's special event, a $75-a-plate “Deer and Roses” dinner, featuring rack of venison, “because turn-about is fair play,” says the website at

A vegetarian option will be available “for the tender-hearted,” the website says.

Both the dinner and the tour will raise money for the festival.

Coinciding with the festival, the Main Street program will take the latest in a series of community portraits on Saturday morning.

The picture will be taken at 9:45 a.m., with participants asked to gather at Pope Marine Park across from City Hall at least 15 minutes earlier.

Anyone attending the festival can participate, and all are encouraged to wear Victorian dress for the occasion, Mullen said.

During the festival, general admission of $25 will provide access to the exhibition hall and Saturday presentations, demonstrations and lecturers — a list of which is available on the festival website.

Advance tickets to the gala Victorian Ball at 7 p.m. Saturday in the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., are $15. Tickets at the door will be $20.

Victorian Teas at the Old Consultate Inn, 313 Walker St., and the Blue Gull Inn, 1310 Clay St., at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday are $25.

For tickets, go directly to or buy at Quimper Sound, Daily Bird Pottery, Old Consulate Inn, Vasu Video or Vintage Hardware.

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

Last modified: March 18. 2013 8:48AM
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