In the late-1800s, Port Townsend was touted as the “New York of the West” and “The City of Dreams”. The city was a vibrant and popular Pacific Northwest seaport. It was during this era that the city’s iconic Victorian homes and buildings were constructed.
Port Townsend had two distinct districts - Uptown and Downtown. Uptown was once home to the society elite who built commanding homes on the bluff with a separate shopping district, churches, schools, hospitals, and parks. As opposed to downtown featuring boarding houses, saloons, theaters, and brothels.
The city was developed under the assumption that the Northern Pacific Railroad would connect to Port Townsend via Tacoma. Without the railroad and the hope of economic growth, industry and population dwindled. As a result this left elegant homes and buildings well preserved, like a time capsule.
I love to walk around Uptown and look at the Victorian homes, but here are many shops, restaurants, and historical sites to check out. Here are just a few of my favorite stops to make in Uptown.
The Rothschild House
The Rothschild House is located on a bluff overlooking Port Townsend Bay at the corner of Franklin and Taylor Streets. The home is a great representation of Port Townsend life circa end of the nineteenth century featuring original home decor and furnishings.
The Rothschild House was constructed by the family patriarch in 1868 and his widow only allowed minimal changes to made made to the home. His last living relative donated the house to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. The home was opened to the public in the early-1960s and is now managed by the Jefferson Historical Society.
Savor Pacific Northwest featuring the farms, shellfish, and cider of the Olympic Peninsula at Port Townsend’s newest fine dining restaurant, Finistére. The restaurant is a foodie favorite and was recently profiled in the Seattle Times.
Finistére is hosts a truly Happy Hour Wednesday - Friday from 3pm-5pm offering $6 wines, beer, and cocktails and appetizers including Oysters, Smoked Salmon Dip, and Ham Croquettes all under $10. The restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday - Sunday and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
A trip to Uptown wouldn’t be complete without a stop into Pane d’Amore - a local artisan bakery.
Pane d’Amore offers a myriad of delicious breads and sweet & savory pastries (including gluten-free cookies & brownies!) If you’re looking for something specific, check out their baking schedule. I love their focaccia topped with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, and pesto. Pane d’Amore is open seven days a week to serve your puff pastry needs.
Uptown is home to Aldrich’s Market, Washington State’s oldest grocery store. Clark Aldrich opened the market in 1895 selling goods including school books & stationery, candy, fruits & vegetables, and tobacco.
In the store’s nearly 125 years in business,the market has moved a few times. The store was originally located at the corner of Lawrence and Tyler Streets. A large fire in 1900 destroyed many Uptown businesses including Aldrich’s. The market moved the following year into a different Uptown location (the current location of Star Printery) before settling at 904 Lawrence Street, the store’s current location. In 2003, Aldrich’s was destroyed in another fire and when it was rebuilt using salvaged materials from the original building including Douglas fir timber, handmade nails, and mill flooring.
Today, Aldrich's offers groceries, salads, soup, and wine & beer. Upstairs, the market offers sushi from Sushi Ichiba Monday - Saturday, including their own namesake roll with crunchy tempura prawns and shredded cabbage.