Renovation of the Lewis Army Museum
Pacific Northwest Military History Museum
An early 20th century 150-room hotel, located along I-5, is the only certified military museum on the West Coast. Long a familiar site along the highway, near Ft. Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis McChord) the white-frame structure with its distinctive cupolas and balconies was known as the Red Shield Inn.
Between 1927 and 1972 the Inn served as a Guest House to incoming officers and their families. In 1973 it was converted to a museum and was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979.
Myles Grant, the Army History Museum’s director, presented an overview of the Inn’s history and its restoration during the May 15 meeting of Lakewood Historical Society.
The museum’s collection includes 6,400 cataloged military-related artifacts, 200 weapons, and is designed, Grant said, “to promote esprit de corps, educate soldiers about their history and heritage, and to educate the public about the Army’s role and its contributions today and in the past.”
After more than two years and $9.6 million, the renovations of the museum were completed and a limited reopening was held on February 21st to mark the occasion. The renovation was done by Wade Perrow Construction Company from Gig Harbor. Some of their other historic building renovation projects include the Pantages Theater and Foss Waterway Seaport Museum.
In addition to hosting the museum, this historic building now also houses a 15,000 square foot state-of-the-art training facility on the once vacant third floor. The addition of these training rooms have helped the installation alleviate a shortage of classroom space on base.
The museum is open for tours between noon and 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. There is no charge to visit this historic structure and its collections, but Grant advised potential visitors to allow enough time to complete the visitor access process to get on post at the Main Gate.