Newport: The Pacific Maritime and Heritage Museum finally opens its doors to the public! Without question, a MUST see!
Click photos to enlarge
The Lincoln County Pacific Maritime and Heritage Museum was finally opened to the public on Saturday, capping a long restoration effort that has brought an old Bayfront icon back to life. And a beautiful job the Historical Society has done.
As you can see from the photos, the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center is destined to become a major museum, an interactive center that incorporates the working wharf, educational programs, and local maritime uses. It will be designed to attract, educate, and entertain all ages, instilling in local residents and visitors a sense of place and community, a place they will want to visit again and again.
The Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center is located in an impressive building on Newport’s historic Bayfront. The building and site were purchased by the Lincoln County Historical Society in 2004. The site was first graced with a home built in 1890 for Dr. James Bayley and his wife, Elizabeth. That building burned in 1923, leaving only the foundation and chimney. A new home was built in 1925 by World War I hero General Ulysses Grant McAlexander on the site. In the late 1970s and early 80s, the structure underwent extensive remodeling and expansion and reopened as Smuggler’s Cove, a restaurant and nightclub. Most recently it housed Gracie’s at Smuggler’s Cove, a popular restaurant and entertainment spot.
Inside the main floor area is a gift shop as well as many exhibits that harken back to the earliest days of Newport and surrounding communities. Timber, fishing and commercial enterprises emerged on the waterfront that eventually was called “The Bayfront.” Large ships would come and go, dwarfing the fishing vessels that were moored at a rather primitive forbearer of Port Dock 5. Oysters were also a popular export that were served in the finest restaurants of San Francisco, delivered by James Winant’s “Mischief” sailing craft. Oysters went down the coast, fresh fruit and other delicacies came back up, some of it given to local children according to the photograph’s caption.
There are many other photographs of the early days of Yaquina Bay including an interesting photo of the Triangle Pacific Mill at South Beach, with it’s tall tee pee burning wig wam that incinerated saw dust and other wood waste. It sat on the spot at South Beach that is now the home of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
There is also a fine arts gallery that adorns the northeast portion of the main floor. It’s juried by renown local artist Michael Gibbons who appeared to be having a great time talking with museum visitors, even hanging one of his own paintings that is not purely landscape – you can see that there is marine ship maintenance activity in one of his framed offerings. If we’re not mistaken, Michael was, for a time in his early collegiate career, quite the mechanical engineering student before he grew passionate about the arts.
The views from the museum out onto the bay are unparalleled in their sweeping breadth and their close proximty. Benches are strategically placed for those who enjoy quiet reflection while looking over the bay.
There is also some minor kitchen facilities for those who might want to hold gatherings or any special event.
The Historical Society says they still have the entire upstairs to restore so they may be converted to additional galleries. For that they remind everyone that it only takes money – money they need from generous donors. Donations toward further restoration and the opening of additional exhibits are greatly appreciated. Donors who give more than $500 will be recognized in an installation in the building.
The Pacific Maritime and Heritage Museum is open Thursday through Sunday, 11-4. For additional insight into the museum or donations for contributing to its expansion please call the Lincoln County Historical Society at 541-265-7509.