The settlers had to clear the land and where the Cottages are today meant cutting down what we would call old growth fir trees. They grew right up to the bluffs edge. After the trees were felled they were rolled right over the bank to the beach and floated out to waiting vessels to eventually be taken to San Francisco as lumber for buildings. Early farmers then grew fabulous crops, especially potatoes, in the bottom-lands of the now named Dungeness River
We are not sure exactly who settled this parcel of land as ownership changed hands quite often depending on gambling stakes, health, and desires to move on. It is on record as part of the original Thornton Donation Claim.
In 1889 we are told the Methodist Church had a traveling minister by the name of Rev. A. J. McNemee, who moved to Dungeness as the center of his circuit. A 16 x 16 church building was built from trees off the land right here at the Cottages and still stands today as the “laundry-barn” – the building farthest south and east on the property. The little church at Dungeness was only used for three years, and was abandoned in 1892 when the town moved east of the river (by today’s 3 Crabs Restaurant) because the inner Bay was filling with silt and the big sailing ships could no longer anchor at the base of Cline Spit. I think it was filling with silt because of logging the bluff top and rolling the big logs over the banks.
The Juan de Fuca Cottages were built in 1916 with some buildings being added in 1945. Rumor has it they were painted black and could be rented by the hour!! During the 1950′s the waterfront area was built to include a working boat launch with crane and dock to moor your boat on to. The property boasted fourteen cottages and the owner’s house. The earliest pictures we have are of this time. Young guests could water-ski from the dock and out around the Bay as well as catching crabs in pots and fish on lines from their boats.
Records dated in 1905 show a W.E. Burnside sold the property to a Jay Gould.
From a previous owner we have a verbal tradition and some county records of owners as
Becker(?), Graham (- 1946),
Van Ness (1955- 1967),
Van Bibber (1967-197l),
Wybrow (1971 -1976),
Young (1980- l983),
In the early 1980′s Sheila Ramus, from California, purchased the Cottages and began 25 years of transforming the Cottages to what they are today. With an eye towards restoration and conservation, Sheila turned the Cottages from unheated, summer cabins to four season triple diamond rated cottages and suites. With such amenities as full, modern kitchens (including in-sink dishwashers!), whirlpool tubs, cable TV, some fireplaces and bathrobes and slippers – you knew you would be well taken care of while you visited!
In May of 2006 Tom and Missy Rief became the new proprietors and have a vision for the Cottages which include maintaining the high standards already set as well as adding more