Historic structures to get “rain jacket” of new paint

National Park Service works to preserve buildings in East Vancouver Barracks

VANCOUVER — Work is underway at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site to preserve five structures in the East Vancouver Barracks by providing new paint for the historic buildings.

The five buildings receiving new coats of paint were built from 1906 to the 1940s, and are all “historic structures from the US Army,” Superintendent Tracy Fortmann of the National Park Service said.

A worker conducts paint repairs on a window on the motor repair shop at the East Vancouver Barracks as part of a six-month project to repaint five buildings on the site. Photo by Alex Peru
A worker conducts paint repairs on a window on the motor repair shop at the East Vancouver Barracks as part of a six-month project to repaint five buildings on the site. Photo by Alex Peru

The East and South Vancouver Barracks were transferred to the National Park Service from the Army in 2012, Fortmann said, and the repainting project comes as part of an ongoing effort to preserve the “nationally significant structures.”

Work recently began repairing paint on the former US Army motor repair shop, which dates back to 1919.

According to Facility Manager Alex Patterson, part of the efforts of preserving the buildings involves predicting when elements of the structure will need to be repaired, and then address the repairs just before they become necessary.

 

Patterson explained that the current project involves new exterior paint coats, some repairs to windows, and siding replacement in some small areas. The work is “not a major rehab,” Patterson said.

 

The former US Army motor repair shop, built in 1919, is one of five buildings at the East Vancouver Barracks undergoing repainting and repair over the next six months. The other buildings include the infantry barracks, a quartermaster’s warehouse, the post exchange restaurant and the carpenter’s shop. Photo by Alex Peru
The former US Army motor repair shop, built in 1919, is one of five buildings at the East Vancouver Barracks undergoing repainting and repair over the next six months. The other buildings include the infantry barracks, a quartermaster’s warehouse, the post exchange restaurant and the carpenter’s shop. Photo by Alex Peru

 

As the buildings were constructed from wood, Patterson said that it is important to “make sure that you’re preserving the exterior, especially in this climate.” Patterson likened the new paint to a “rain jacket” that protects the wooden structure underneath from the elements.

Patterson said that not only would old, worn paint be replaced, but lead paint would be removed and replaced to prevent it from flaking and thereby making the paintwork safe.

The National Park Service has been working with Sherwin-Williams and NW Pro Paint of Vancouver to do the work on the buildings.

During the repainting and repairing of five East Vancouver Barracks buildings, the work areas are closed to the public. However, the rest of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will remain open to the public. Photo by Alex Peru
During the repainting and repairing of five East Vancouver Barracks buildings, the work areas are closed to the public. However, the rest of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will remain open to the public. Photo by Alex Peru

“It’s kind of a neat Clark County connection,” Patterson said.

Additional work will be contracted to WM Welch of Post Falls, Idaho, according to a Fort Vancouver National Historic Site press release.

The five buildings on the National Historic Site to receive new paint are the motor repair shop, infantry barracks, a quartermaster’s warehouse, the post exchange restaurant and the carpenter’s shop.

Fortmann noted that the current five buildings being painted are the next in a line of 26 other buildings maintained by the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site that have received work in the recent past.

Workers remove masking material from a window in the former US Army motor repair shop as part of an ongoing effort to preserve structures at the East Vancouver Barracks. Photo by Alex Peru.
Workers remove masking material from a window in the former US Army motor repair shop as part of an ongoing effort to preserve structures at the East Vancouver Barracks. Photo by Alex Peru.

These included all the buildings at Pearson Field, several buildings within the Fort Vancouver stockade, as well as the McLoughlin House and Barclay House in Oregon, “two of the oldest and perhaps most well known historic homes in the Pacific Northwest,” Fortmann said.

After the paintwork is completed, Fortmann said the next phase in the preservation project is addressing roof work.

According to the press release, the project will cost $485,820 and is projected to take six months to complete.

“It’s a never-ending story,” Fortmann said. She noted that the staff of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site share her drive to “maintain and protect and preserve these structures.”

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About The Author

Alex Peru is a 2017 graduate of Washington State University Vancouver. He has a bachelor’s degree in History and a double minor in Political Science and Business Administration. Peru grew up in Battle Ground, and graduated from CAM Academy in 2013. He worked for The VanCougar, WSU Vancouver’s campus newspaper, for three years, including one year as the editor-in-chief. When not working, Peru enjoys reading books about history, working on cars and enjoying the outdoors in Clark County’s beautiful rivers, lakes and forests.

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