The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Couple undertake historical tourism project


September 20, 2018

When an anonymous donation was made to Tsuga Gallery to create new signs for historic homes and structures in the community, Cathlamet resident Paige Lake was more than happy to step up.

“I was pretty excited that they let me take it on,” Lake said.

Though an accountant by trade, Lake has long had an interest in architecture and the history of homes.

“I’ve worked with historic preservation for several years,” Lake said. “I owned a building in downtown Centralia and I had an older home in Chehalis.”

These days, she and her husband Steven live in the Bradley House, formerly the library in Cathlamet.

The last time signs were made was 1989, and several people were involved in the project. They worked for two years to design the beautiful white pressboard plaques they eventually installed. Sadly, the plaques have been deteriorating and it was time for something new.

“It was just me this time,” Lake said. “I didn’t have to argue with anybody about how it was going to be and I was able to get it done in a couple months.”

“We found some pretty good plaques at a really good price,” Lake added. “They aren’t really bronze. People really like the way they turned out. The original plaques were great and it’s a fantastic idea. I think these ones will last a nice long time.”

Steven has been a lot of help putting up the new signs. Lake likes to tease him, but she knew her husband was the right person for the job.

“I knew I could rely on his quality of work and respect for historic properties,” Lake said.

And she says, a new walking tour is her next project.

“It was fun to do research and find out who built each building,” Lake said.

Lucky tour participants might hear stories about a ghost who likes to play pranks in the Bradley House.

Or how a home was moved to make room for the house, which took two years to build, and the first owner’s wife became so unhappy, she demanded they move after living there for just three years.

One might learn about the Red & White Food Store, or how a woman purchased a four square home built in 1916, but due to the times, could only be listed as Mrs. M. Larsen. Was M. the initial for her name or her husband’s name?

Then there is the history of the clinker brick building.

“During the depression, they used everything that they made,” Lake said, “so they incorporated some of those bricks, which I think they had been too close to the fire, into the architectural style.”

The signs and walking tour will not only be of interest to visitors and a source of economic development, but may be a great opportunity for local people to learn about their community as well.

“Heritage tourism is the third largest type of tourism in the United States,” Lake said. “50 years is median age, they stay longer and spend more money, and they appreciate history. And it promotes quality of life benefits to the community to realize how important your heritage is.”


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