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Historic Steilacoom proudly wears a mantle of “firsts.” Founded in 1854 and built on a sloping site overlooking Puget Sound, it is Washington's oldest incorporated municipality and the site of the territory's first library, courthouse and jail. Many other structures in the town are more than a century old, including the first Protestant church in the state. The Roman Catholic Immaculate Conception Church, dating from 1856, is one of the oldest churches still in use in Washington.
Nearby Fort Steilacoom was established in 1849 to secure American interests in Puget Sound and remained an active army post until 1868. It later served as a state insane asylum before becoming Western State Hospital in 1917. Four of the fort's original buildings still stand on the hospital campus. Car ferry service is available from Steilacoom to Anderson and Ketron islands; phone (253) 588-1950 or (253) 798-2766 for recorded information.
The Steilacoom Historical Museum, 1801 Rainier St., documents the town's early years and contains books from the Washington territory's first library. The adjacent Nathaniel Orr Home is decorated with period furnishings; the Wagon Shop displays antique woodworking and farming tools. Visitors can pick up a map outlining a self-guiding walking tour of local historic attractions at the museum; phone (253) 584-4133. The Steilacoom Tribal Cultural Center and Museum, 1515 Lafayette St., has Native American exhibits and a collection of artifacts; phone (253) 584-6308.
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