The opportunity awaits to walk the paths where hundreds of enlisted military personnel once roamed, peer into the alien eyes of a tentacled octopus and tread on the Colonel’s House’s Douglas fir floors during a tour at the sixth annual open house at Camp Casey Conference Center.
Seattle Pacific University is inviting locals and tourists alike to take an inside look at the historic military fort, which was built in the 1890s, during the open house 12–4 p.m. on Friday, June 14.
The free event will allow visitors to see the “Sea Lab” marine biology teaching facility which features aquatic creatures recently captured off the coast by divers. There will also be tours of the barracks and mess hall with complimentary snacks and coffee and a tour of the Fort Casey Inn, a row of cottages that were used as officers’ housing prior to World War I.
One of the most popular open house events is the guided tour of the Colonel’s House, according to Robyn Myers, who is the conference services manager at Camp Casey and Fort Casey Inn.
“If you want to see it, this is your chance,” Myers said, as the house is only open to the public during open houses. The house is used as a retreat space for SPU personnel during the rest of the year.
One popular stop will not be offered this year—the outdoor swimming pool, which is closed for repairs.
SPU Professor Emeritus of History Bill Woodward will be leading tours at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., with a lecture called “Those mysterious seacoast forts: Doing homeland defense the old-fashioned way.” He will discuss the origins of Fort Casey, including its original purpose to defend Puget Sound from invaders.
Woodward said the open house is a good way for people to learn about this “under-appreciated gem” of Whidbey Island.
“I think people on Whidbey Island need to know what they have,” he said. “It’s a great treasure. People should know it, people should prize it”
Casey history expert and Coupeville resident Steve Kobylk will be leading tours of his own 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and will be discussing the Victorian-style Colonel’s House, which he said is also known as the Staff Officers Quarters. Kobylk dons a 1900s-era uniform for the tours.
Kobylk said on the tour of the Colonel’s House, people are most often surprised by the high quality construction of the building and the master bedrooms which follow the old-fashioned tradition of having separate bedrooms for the officer and his wife, with a conjugal door between the two.
Admiralty Head Lighthouse will be open for tours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
SPU purchased Fort Casey in 1956 after it was decommissioned after World War II, and renovated the buildings into their current-day usage. In fact, SPU has now owned Camp Casey for longer than the Army did, Myers said.