The Seaport Project

Located at Tacoma’s original deep-water dock and moorage site, the Seaport realizes a decades-old dream to create an activities-focused waterfront public space for everyone by reconnecting downtown Tacoma to the “Old City Waterway” through:

  • Saving the century-old Balfour Dock Building for another hundred years of community service
  • Providing the home for an enhanced Working Waterfront Maritime Museum
  • Expanding the Heritage Wooden Boat Shop
  • Creating an educational program to highlight marine and environmental science,
  • Presenting exhibits about ship building, the Port of Tacoma, waterfront businesses, industry and labor

The Foss Waterway Seaport is housed in the historic Balfour Dock Building on the Thea Foss Waterway. The building houses historic maritime exhibits, hands-on activities for children that teach about the Puget Sound, the Port of Tacoma, maritime history; an operating Heritage Wooden Boat Shop; and an education center highlighting marine and environmental science inquiry and exploration. In addition, there are over 1200 feet of docks and floats for educational and recreational use.

The Foss Waterway Seaport currently works with a number of school districts, private independent schools and higher education institutions to provide programs to enrich students’ understanding of marine ecology and maritime history of the Tacoma region and the importance of Puget Sound to the region.

These programs include K-12 and college age students taking part in instruction and tours within the Balfour Dock Building as well as on-water marine and environmental science programs through Foss Waterway Seaport’s Science on the Sea educational program. Each year nearly 2000 students from local schools take part in Foss Waterway Seaport-sponsored programs and tours, and we have over 30,000 visitors to the museum and events and programs…

The Balfour Dock Building is located at the original home of Tacoma’s port and is the oldest remaining intact building linked to Tacoma’s commercial and industrial maritime beginnings. The historic Balfour Dock Building is the last remaining segment of what was known as the “mile-long wheat warehouse” and a tangible link to the unique trading history of the Evergreen State.

From the time the last commercial occupant left the grand old building in the mid-1970s, the building sat fallow, used as a city storage facility, but slowly rotting away into the Foss Waterway until 1996, when it was “rediscovered” by boating and history buffs who recognized what profound value the building could add to Tacoma’s rebirth and to the region’s understanding of its history and environment. Since 2003, the Foss Waterway Seaport organization has been aggressively moving forward to implement a compelling adaptation of the venue for long-term community educational and recreational use.