Big events to honor island history in MayNational Historic Preservation Month in the San Juan Islands is all about breathing a little life back into history during the month of May. It’s easy. With 18 sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, visitors can stay in a historic lodging or resort while enjoying guided walking tours, local history talks and other special events that portray the past as long-time islanders lived and remember it. And, a ghost or two may even be encountered in a hallway or cemetery along the way.
Orcas Island – At Orcas Island Historical Museum’s lecture series and exhibit, “The Smugglers’ Blues” – The Illicit, Illegal and Immoral on the Salish Sea, opening May 23, learn about the lawmen and the law breakers; who smuggled what where, and why. From wool to opium, whiskey to Chinese immigrants, the San Juans have been a crossroads for those willing to risk it all for illegal profits.
Tour the museum and learn the history of Robert Moran’s Mansion at Rosario Resort through a multimedia presentation. Ghost stories and Phantom of the Opera music performed on the 1,972 pipe Aeolian organ accompany clips from the original Phantom film. Complimentary and open to the public, the show is performed daily in summer (except Sundays) and every Saturday during the rest of the year.
San Juan Island – May 9, join a biographical tour of Roche Harbor’s pioneer cemetery, begun in 1887. The tour will make the life stories of those buried here come alive again – well almost. Once the largest lime works in the Pacific Northwest, Roche Harbor Resort’s property is akin to an open-air museum; formal gardens, historic buildings, kilns and mausoleum are explained through engaging interpretive panels. The Resort’s circa 1886 Hotel de Haro is on the National Register of Historic Places and continues to lodge visitors.
May 30, walk in the footsteps of General George Pickett of Civil War fame as the San Juan Island National Historical Park opens its Officers Quarters for the first time after its year-long restoration. Pickett was posted at the American Camp garrison during the “Pig War” crisis, a territorial dispute between the Americans and British lasting from 1859-1872, in which the only casualty was a pig. Park entrance is always free.
Join a guided walking tour of Friday Harbor or tour the town on your own. The Town has over 150 historic sites within its walkable mile radius. Twenty-six of these are described in the Historic Friday Harbor on Foot Tour.
Lopez Island – “Quilts as Carriers of Community and Women’s History” an exhibit of Lopez community quilts, beginning with 1880s era quilts, will be on display at the Lopez Historical Museum.
With three historical museums and the San Juan Island National Historical Park, visitors can experience San Juan Islands history all year. This summer look for the opening of the new, interactive Museum of History and Industry in Friday Harbor and Encampment at the National Historical Park.
More information on May’s “History Lives Here” events and a list of historic lodging properties, may be found on the Visitors Bureau May History Page www.visitsanjuans.com. For further information call 888-468-3701, ext. 1.
PHOTOS: Historic Roche Harbor Resort
PHOTO CREDITS: Photo courtesy of San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau
RECOMMENDED LODGING: San Juans lodging
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