AKA: Camp Nor'wester #1, Main Lodge, Lopez Island, WA

Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures - camps

Designers: Chiarelli and Kirk, Architects (firm); James Joseph Chiarelli (architect); Paul Hayden Kirk (architect)

Dates: constructed 1946-1946, demolished 1997

1 story

Lopez Island, WA

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map

Frank C. Henderson founded his first boy's camp, San Juan International Camp, on San Juan Island, Westcott Bay in 1935. In 1938, he married an administrator in the Girl Scouts, Lucile Townsend Henderson (1904-2006), who initiated the formation of a girl's camp. With the end of World War II, the lease on the San Juan Island property elapsed and was not renewed. The Hendersons found another 310-acre parcel on nearby Lopez Island, and moved all transportable materials by barge to the new site. At this time, the Seattle architectural firm of Chiarelli and Kirk designed this remarkable modern/rustic Main Lodge for them. In 1968, the camp was sold by the Hendersons to timber magnate, Norton Clapp (1906-1995) (Laird-Norton Trust). Jack and Jan Helsell directed the camp after 1968, who operated it as "Camp Nor'wester." A new owner, Chuck Curran, removed the Helsells from directorship in 1980, and installed David and Susan Formo. The Formos supervised camp operations from 1980-1990, when Paul Henriksen and Christa Campbell were hired. They worked on the Sperry Peninsula property before it was sold in 03/1996 to the Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen (born 1953). The camp folded its tent on 09/15/1996 at this location. A permanent, 135-acre, Johns Island site was located by a new Camp Nor'Wester Foundation in 1998-1999, and this current facility started operations in 2000.

The boys' camp was known as San Juan Camp, the girls' as Northstar Camp; they operated between 1946-1966. In his entry in the American Architects Directory of 1955 (p. 92), James Chiarelli indicated in that the date of the camp was 1949; this was probably about three years too late. According to the camp's own web site history: "The Main Lodge (office, dining area, and kitchen) and a new boys' Shower House were built of lumber and stone from the camp property by Lopez workmen." (See "1946-1967: The Henderson Camps on Lopez Island,"Accessed 04/18/2012.) The main lodge consisted of an extensive main multi-purpose hall served by an en suite kitchen and storage room on one end and a commons room/office on the other. The commons room shared a large ashlar fire place with the main hall. All rooms were elevated on reinforced posts above grade and the building plan bent slightly following shifting ground contours. The structural frame--posts and spanning members--was composed of rough hewn timbers cut on site and assembled by workers drawn from nearby farms. Cedar board-and-batten siding--also cut locally--was applied diagonally to ensure maximum bracing. The use of native materials was important to the architects to provide the camp an authentic, organic character; Paul Kirk said: "We are both interested in using local building materials in their most simple and straightforward manner." (See "Camp Building," Progressive Architecture, 03/1948, p. 44.) Minimal lighting and heating systems were installed; portable gasoline lamps lit interior spaces and tall double-pane windows admitted southern sun. Fixed sheets of glass were secured by cedar stops, while transoms opened above. A long overhang sheltered a deck covered with tables and chairs and encircled by a railing. Chiarelli and Kirk calculated the length of the overhang to admit maximum sun in winter and minimum in summer.

Demolished. The camp was razed in 1997.

PCAD id: 8443