1. Architectural character:
2. Condition of fabric:
It is difficult to say the Enchanted Valley Chalet is attributed to a particular architect,
because potential architects include several members of the Olson brothers, their partners at
the Olympic Recreation Company, recreational developers in the US Forest Service, Tom
and Glenn Criswell, and Roy Streator. The design was undoubtedly influenced by building
techniques that are traditional to the Olympic Peninsula, but also by U.S. Forest Service's
special use permit, the Olympic Chalet Company's Low Divide Chalet, the Olympic
Recreation Company's Graves Creek Inn, and Arts and Craft style houses in Grays Harbor.
The Chalet is a significant example of vernacular architecture which is common on the
Olympic Peninsula and within Olympic National Park. This tradition was well described in
the National Register of Historic Places Multiple Properties Nomination for Olympic
"Largely as a result of isolation, poor or nonexistent transportation routes, and the
paucity of trained architects and technological equipment or knowledge, building
styles during the peninsula's early phases of development did not duplicate features
characteristic of any one particular style. Instead, buildings display design
characteristic that reflect the Olympic Peninsula's unique amalgam of available
materials, topographic and climate constraints, and the knowledge and skill of local
The Chalet's original design demonstrates these vernacular traits. It was constructed
dimensional lumber produced by local mills and from logs, peeled-poles, rough split cedar
shakes and boards all collected from trees felled on site. The Olympic Recreation Company
relied on skilled local carpenters to complete the work; Tom Criswell, Roy Streator, and Roy
Knack were from Quinault, Grays Harbor, and Montesano.
Most of the design was driven by the need for a functional, inexpensive building that could
be constructed by a small crew. Practical features include a steeply sloped roof designed to
shed snow, a fenestration pattern dictated by the need to have natural light in each room,
and the absence of an expensive fireplace. The log and pole framing, used of locally milled
lumber, and uses of materials sourced on site are practical parts of the design and are also
consistent with local building traditions. According to the National Register Nomination:
"Log and pole frame structures, often considered the traditional American frontier
building type, served as appropriate shelters for the early settlers of the Olympic
Peninsula. Constructing buildings on land many miles from mills, and often without
the tools or knowledge to design and construct buildings that emulated
contemporary architectural styles, the first peninsula settlers, as well as the early
USFS rangers, used logs and poles to build their early structures. [...] Well into the
twentieth century, after the completion of a major highway and the rapid appearance
of vehicular transportation and numerous lumber mills on the peninsula, log and
pole structures continued as the preferred or only possible building type in the more
remote and inaccessible interior sections of the peninsula.
The Chalet is related to other recreational and commercial developments in the park, but is
also distinguished by its remote location in Enchanted Valley. It is one of just four extant
historic sites that are associated with commercial development of the Olympic Peninsula.
The other three, Lake Crescent Lodge, Rosemary Inn, and Lake Quinault Lodge (which is
on USFS land), are all front country developments.
This separation from easy
transportation routes is largely why the Enchanted Valley Chalet has a rustic design, more
readily associated with log cabins and log shelters in the Olympic backcountry. NPS
historian Gail E. Evans observed that "although its late construction date places it more in
the time period of the Rustic style architectural phase, the remote location of the Chalet, and
the building's construction by a local peninsula craftsman exposed to the pioneer skills of log
building, established its clear link to regional pioneer craft traditions."
The Olympic Recreation Company and Olympic Chalet Company operated the only
backcountry hostels in the Olympic interior. The Enchanted Valley Chalet was built
immediately after Graves Creek Inn, and the two buildings were very similar. In some ways,
Graves Creek Inn also resembles the Low Divide Chalet, which was designed and built
roughly five years before the Inn. It is likely that the Enchanted Valley Chalet was partly or
significantly modeled after the low Divide Chalet and Graves Creek Inn. According to the
National Register nomination, "such commercial ventures to capitalize on the wilderness
setting of the Olympic Interior reveal America's 1920s and 1930s dual perception that nature
was to be both revered and exploited for commercial use." Today, the Enchanted Valley
Chalet remains as the last surviving example of their impact.
Some elements of front-country design did permeate into the Olympic interior, mainly the
Arts and Craft movement which celebrated local craftsmanship and the use of local
materials. Evans observed that "the precise graduation in log size from the sill logs to the
roof line, its well-proportioned lines, and its precision diagonally cut dovetail corner joints all
contribute to the chalet's high artistic value and excellence of craftsmanship.
Furthermore, the Chalet's three-over-one and six-over-one double hung windows are
reminiscent of Arts and Craft style residential designs. By 1930 the style was well established.
It is likely that Knack Manufacturing produced windows for Arts and Craft houses in the
Grays Harbor area and used a similar design for the Enchanted Valley Chalet and Graves
The building was restored in 1980 and 2010 and is generally in good
condition. A preservation project was planned for 2014 and had to be postponed. At last
assessment, the preservation carpenter planned several projects including: replacing the
dormer ridge beam and one dormer collar tie, replacing two log ends on the exterior,
replacing several exterior logs, treating exterior logs with rot stabilizer, replacing interior
bead board, installing safety equipment in the chimney, repointing weathered mortar joints,
and restoring the original staircase newel post.