Category Archives: Lakewood

A Barn at Fort Steilacoom Park

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Steilacoom Barn

Western State Hospital for the Insane, later shortened to simply Western State, opened in 1871 and soon after included a farm with animals. The farm included several barns and this one, near the entrance to the dog park in what is now Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, is one of them. The farm workers were patients of the hospital and the farm supplied much of the food for the hospital. The farm closed in 1959.

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I went in the evening and there was a lovely sunset and a flock of geese.

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Who Remembers What Was Here?

imageI remember shopping at this large department store and I think I remember having a meal in the cafe. But be darned if I can remember what it was called! It was one of the anchors of the Lakewood Mall when there was a Lakewood Mall. The retail space has been vacant for years.

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Fort Steilacoom Museum

imageFor a year we planned to visit Historic Fort Steilacoom at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd, Lakewood, but they have limited hours (Sundays 1-4 during the summer and the first Sunday of the month from 1-4 from Labor Day to Memorial Day), and we have three different schedules, so it just took that long.

We thought it would be a small museum and perhaps it might be about Western State Hospital, but we were wrong on both accounts. The museum included several buildings and a two hour tour and was completely about the historic fort which had operated on the grounds. The tour guide was so incredibly  knowledgeable and explained the fort’s history using the detailed model and in the other buildings to illustrate to us how the soldiers lived. I found it particularly interesting that the army would send representatives back east to meet new immigrants at the docks. The men would be offered transportation to the west coast and a job with room and board. Some eventually received free land. Such an opportunity. The fort’s history can be found on their website, but it is worthwhile to visit in person and go inside the actual buildings and talk to the terrific volunteers.

Talking about the volunteers, the green tint on the two gentleman is completely the fault of the lens! I was told that the lack of smiles is because people didn’t smile for photos in those days. They thought it made them look imbecilic.

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http://www.historicfortsteilacoom.org/

Ivar’s for lunch

I had a very late lunch today at the Ivar’s in Lakewood, WA. I enjoy Ivar’s not only for their tasty fast food, but also for their quirky sense of humor. More history on Ivar himself can be found here.

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Little Free Library #16986, Lakewood

19256413431_e5b9895279_kBack in November of 2012, Tacoma had two little free library, which were part of the Little Free Library Project. Now there must be a couple of dozen little free libraries and Lakewood, WA has two.

This “Little Free Library” is located at 10317 Interlaaken Drive SW, Lakewood, WA. It is unusual in that it is attached to a tree stump and has a darling dragonfly handle. Inside there are about a dozen books, but none for me today.

Little Free Libraries is part of a community movement which offers free books. When I considered my first Little Free Library in November 2012, a Wikipedia article informed me that there were over 200 of these libraries. There are now over 15,000!  Each of the libraries is registered and can be located by their GPS coordinates. Per the November 2012 website:

Our Mission

  • To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  • To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations
  • To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world – more than Andrew Carnegie–and then more. (yes, they made that one!)

 

Lakewood History Museum

16399548877_c5def60a6e_bI had a rare free afternoon on this lovely sunny Saturday and stopped to visit the Lakewood History Museum at 6211 Mt Tacoma Drive SW, Lakewood, WA 98499. It is located in a small retail space in the Lakewood Colonial Center. It is small, but charming and I actually knew the woman who was volunteering there today. Since Lakewood is a relatively new city, incorporated in 1995, I hadn’t thought it had much history, but I learned a great deal. I hadn’t realized that the area had originally been called The Prairie and I was reminded of the fact that the Lakewood Town Center was on the site of a convent. And I enjoyed seeing the replica of an old fashion classroom and a log cabin interior. The post office boxes particularly fascinated me. Altogether I took in that although it has only been a city for 20 years, there is still an extensive past. I promised to bring my husband to the museum for a visit. The Lakewood Historical Society has a wealth of information about the museum and events in the area.

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Western State Hospital Historical Cemetery

IMG_3666Western State Hospital is the largest psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi and is located on Steilacoom Boulevard in Lakewood, WA. It was originally named Fort Steilacoom Asylum when it opened in 1871 at the site of an army post. More than 3,000 patients are buried at the Western State Hospital State Historic Cemetery though not all of them have grave markers with their name and dates on it. Some have a small, concrete numbered block as a marker, which was originally considered proper because of the stigma of mental health concerns. The cemetery, which is located on the grounds of Fort Steilacoom Park (formerly former the hospital farm), ceased having burials in 1953. The Grave Concerns Association is a volunteer organization dedicated to the restoration of the cemetery.

Benjamin Hooper was one of the earliest burials. Benjamin (1792-1891) was the first patient admitted to the Western Territories Asylum for the Insane on 8/19/1871.

And a shout out to Shelley, who had the brilliant idea to go visit and was bold enough to drive all over Western State Hospital grounds looking for the cemetery (that was on the other side of the road!). I can hardly wait until we go to the Western State Hospital Museum!

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LimeBerry in Lakewood

13895510451_03b5a67640_bLast time I was in this space, I purchased fish. But now it is a Limeberry ready to provide frozen yogurt (froyo) to adoring masses. Limeberry is located at 7304 Lakewood Dr W, Lakewood, WA 98499 in the space that had been occupied by Johnny’s Seafood.

13919059664_fa5edf3450_bUpdate 7/2015 – Limeberry is gone and the space is again available for lease.