Name: Capt. Henry Tibbals House (now the Palace Hotel)
Year Built: 1889
Location: 1004 Water Street
Area: Downtown Port Townsend
Constructed by a retired sea captain, one of Port Townsend's more colorful residents, this building has had a checkered history. Captain Tibbals, one of Port Townsend's most colorful residents, went to sea in 1839, at the age of 10. His exploits included carrying a cargo of railroad iron for the railway crossing at the Isthmus of Panama, as well as testing the first U.S. diving bell and using it to retrieve $68,000 in silver from a sunken Spanish frigate in the Gulf of Mexico. Tibbals had many careers in Port Townsend he served on the city council and was sheriff, postmaster, and county commissioner.
Built in the Richardson Romanesque style, (like the Courthouse), this building's arched windows appear to extend for two stories through the use of columns that bracket them. Tibbals built this building at a cost of $28,000; the first floor originally housed a billiard parlor and a saloon called the Townsend Tavern; the upper floors had furnished rooms for rent. After the crash of 1892 the upper stories of this and other downtown buildings were left unused or under-used for many years. From 1925 to 1933 the two upper stories were known as the Palace Hotel. Actually operated as a brothel, it was nicknamed "the Palace of Sweets." Because this was during Prohibition, some patrons came for alcohol as well. On the third floor there were four inside rooms lighted from the stairwell skylight, but closed to the outside. This arrangement was quite prevalent in buildings of that era and served as "cribs," or small rooms for the girls.That enterprise was closed by the sheriff. Next venture to open was the Townsend Theatre, decorated in an Egyptian theme. A colorful skylight provides interest to the landing on the second story, which serves as a comfortable lobby for guests.
A long restoration process began on the building in 1976 and continued on and off until 1988. Most of the interior work was done in 1977, but the exterior restoration was not completed until 1984. In the spring of that year, under a state and federal matching grant, major foundation repairs were made and the long-missing sheet metal cornice was restored. The main floor now contains galleries and the upper floors house a restaurant and the renovated and quite reputable Palace Hotel with 17 rooms.
Data modified from the National Register of Historic Places, the former Victorian Festival Heritage Home Tour, property owners and other sources. All material copyrighted by PTguide.com.