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At the Harbor History Museum, the transformation is nearly complete. 

The enclosed Maritime Gallery along the water in Gig Harbor is built, allowing curators to start preparing the exhibit space. 

The gallery is off the back of the museum and was previously a covered outdoor area, where the rain could still blow in. Now there are walls with big windows looking onto the harbor. 

I don't have to squeegee a half inch lake of rainwater up every morning,” said shipwright Riley Hall. 

The centerpiece of the gallery is the Shenandoah, a fishing vessel built locally in 1925 and donated to the museum in 2000. 

“It was a crumbly thing out back for a long time. That's kind of the vibe it had. But now it's come back to life and has a building around it.” 

Along with a team of volunteers, Hall restored the vessel in a way that tells its story through the decades. The port side showcases how the boat looked in 1925, and the starboard side shows how it was modified in the 1950’s. 

It fished for 75 years so it's a 75-year story,” Hall said. 

The enclosed gallery is critical to preserving the 65-foot wooden vessel and making it accessible to visitors year-round. 

The $3 million project, in the works for several years, has more than 400 donors. 

In 2021, the Port of Tacoma provided $10,000 from its Local Economic Development Investment Fund, which supports non-profit and local government projects that generate economic development. 

The Port of Tacoma was a great funder for this project,” said museum director and curator Stephanie Lile. “We really appreciate the community support that we’ve had.” 

In 2018, the Port also helped fund signage and a mural at the entrance to the Maritime Gallery.  

Lile said the gallery will also host Thunderbird No.1, the original sailboat in the legendary class built in Gig Harbor.  

Together, Thunderbird No. 1 and Shenandoah will tell the story of Gig Harbor’s crossover from a working waterfront to a hub for recreational boating. 

The museum’s Maritime Gallery is expected to open in April 2025, the 100th anniversary of the Shenandoah’s launch.