Dear Friends of the Seaport,

In order to separate the noise and sawdust produced by activities in our Heritage Boat Shop from the Museum, the architectural firm Olson Kundig was retained to design an enclosure and improvements to the boat shop that would include a “clean room” for preparing and painting boats and other woodworking projects.

Last month, we officially re-opened the shop, which helps the Seaport realize a decades old dream of creating an activities-focused waterfront public space.  Our goal has always been to help reconnect downtown Tacoma to the “Old City Waterway” by:

  • Saving the 120-year old Balfour Dock Building for another “100-years”;
  • Providing the home for an enhanced maritime museum;
  • Expanding the Heritage Boat Shop;
  • Developing education programs which highlight marine and environmental science;
  • And presenting high quality exhibits that pay remembrance to the long maritime and marine history of the Puget Sound region.

Carefully sited to fit within its current footprint, the renovated boat shop establishes a more visible public face for the Seaport and will allow the museum to offer more programs and classes, preserve more boats and host larger events.  The shop’s design was inspired by the wooden boats housed within: It is a functional, straightforward space that serves as an armature for the museum’s events and activities.  In design and operation, the shop is a direct response to the Seaport’s mission: celebrate Tacoma’s maritime heritage – past, present and future.

Speaking of programs, the newly renovated shop will eventually play host to a hybrid of both virtual and in person, including Saturday morning toy boat building classes for children and families; a brand new Boat Shop Heroes program designed to assist our veterans in developing new skills as they begin to transition into the civilian workforce and/or who need hands on activities to better manage the effects of PTSD and other mental and emotional health issues; and Youth Boat Building classes which will provide middle and high school students with opportunities to develop new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our project funders; the many vendors and contractors including Olson Kundig, Mountain Construction, Air Systems, Excel Electric and Be Good Event Photography; the Seaport’s Board of Directors with a special shout out to Tom Ossinger, who managed the project from beginning to end; and last, but definitely not least, Barbara Tronca and all of the boat shop volunteers, who’s expertise was critical in helping make this shop the envy of the Puget Sound.

With warm regards and unbridled excitement, we look forward to seeing the boat shop help write the next chapter in the Seaport’s lasting legacy on the Puget Sound Region.


Brent Mason

Executive Director