Galster House awarded grant for building restoration

Posted 11/24/21

Among the waterfront structures around the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding’s campus is the historic Galster House.

Home to the Ajax Cafe since 1977, a go-to spot for hungry …

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Galster House awarded grant for building restoration

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Among the waterfront structures around the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding’s campus is the historic Galster House.

Home to the Ajax Cafe since 1977, a go-to spot for hungry shipwrights, the Galster House has been a mainstay of the area for a while, considering the building was originally constructed in 1890. Although the structure resides in a beautiful area, the historic spot is in need of a face lift.

The boat school was recently awarded a Third Place Grant of $60,000 from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to repair the roof, parapet, and plumbing of the aging abode.

The grant is not called “Third Place” based on ranking, but by classification for what kind of historical spot it is, a hub of community connection.

The original structure was built by Samuel Hadlock, the town’s founder and Port Hadlock namesake. He used the Galster House as his personal residence. It is the only surviving building constructed by the original Washington Mill Company, and the only property associated with Samuel Hadlock. In 1906, ownership of the Galster House changed hands as Lena and William Galster converted the first floor into a saloon and lived on the second floor.

In 1977, the property became the Ajax Cafe and remained in operation for close to 40 years. In 2016, the Ajax Cafe had to close due to plumbing issues, but was saved by over 250 community members who donated $375,000 for the boatbuilding school to acquire the property and offer a long-term lease to the Ajax Cafe.

As a part of the boat school, the building has continued to be a linchpin of the Hadlock area.

“Historic buildings and places are irreplaceable resources. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. They often represent the culture and soul of a place and can’t be replicated, so it is imperative that they be maintained, rehabilitated, and preserved,” said Nicholas Vann, the deputy director of the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

Vann stressed the importance of preserving historic properties, citing the environmental importance of preserving existing structures, and protecting community hubs for the future.

“By providing this link, we bring communities together and give them a sense of identity and belonging,” Vann said.

The Galster House is one of 14 other properties to receive a grant, and the money will be used to continue to preserve for current and future generations. The building is a cornerstone of the local maritime community, and a great spot for local cuisine.

“I think that Lower Hadlock [where the Galster House resides] is significant to the maritime community for a number of reasons,” said Betsy Davis, the boatbuilding school’s executive director.

“It’s a slice of active working waterfront. It’s not a museum behind walls, it’s a place where people go,” she said.

Kathleen Brooker, vice president of the boat school’s board of administrators, voiced her support and the significance of the building to Lower Hadlock.

“It’s wonderful to be able to hand something on in better shape than you got it,” she said.

Buildings like the Galster House “really tie us to our community, they’re like anchors.”

The working waterfront community will be happy to see the property preserved and to be enjoyed by future shipwrights and visitors of the campus.

“It’s one of the only original buildings still down on the lower Hadlock waterfront,” Davis said. “It was really an honor to be awarded the grant.”

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