By Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
The National Park Service has authorized funding for a project to rehabilitate the existing 5,650 square-foot Visitor Center completed at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in 1962.
A national model when it first opened to the public, in more recent years the historic Mission 66-style building has been in need of major upgrades.
This historic rehabilitation will be confined to the existing footprint of the building and will address essential upgrades to protect the health and safety of visitors, improve efficiency of space while improving the appearance of the structure to make it more readily identifiable by the public as a public facility.
The following are some of the critically important changes that will be made through this project:
• removal of hazardous materials, including lead-based paint and asbestos containing materials;
• replacement of antiquated mechanical and electrical distribution systems to save energy and meet current building codes;
• installation of a fire suppression system to protect the historical structure and improve visitor safety;
• replacement of the existing lighting with energy-efficient LED fixtures;
• replacement of the outdated exhibits with more relevant and accessible ones that address the important history of Fort Vancouver National Historical Site and the Vancouver National Historic Reserve;
• upgraded restrooms for accessibility compliance and improved security;
• redesign of interior floor plan to include expanded theater and public orientation spaces to meet increased demand of larger groups visiting the site, such as school groups, group tours, and the general public.
“The Visitor Center is the central hub of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and the Vancouver National Historic Reserve,” said National Park Service Facility Manager Alex Patterson. “We here at the national park are so pleased to be able to refresh this historic structure. This building will be redesigned to meet the increased visitation demand and better serve the visiting public, while staying within the existing footprint, correcting code violations, and eliminating over a million dollars in deferred maintenance.”
Learn more information about the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on their website.