Vancouver (population 143,560) takes its name from Captain George Vancouver, whose ships of exploration came to the Columbia River in 1792. Settlement came several decades later when, in 1825, the Hudson’s Bay Company established Fort Vancouver, the center for all early fur trading in the Pacific Northwest.
After the area passed from British to American control in 1846, the United States Army established Columbia (later Vancouver) Barracks. In 1996, Congress included the Barracks in the newly created Vancouver National Historical Reserve. The Reserve also includes the site of Fort Vancouver with its reconstructed buildings, Pearson Field (one of America’s oldest continuously operating airfields), and other historic properties. The Reserve is managed through a partnership between the City, State, National Park Service, and the U.S. Army.
In 2004, Vancouver entered into an innovative partnership with the International Air and Hospitality Academy to reuse portions of City-owned historic buildings at Vancouver Barracks. The Academy now leases several buildings for use in a hands-on training program. Students in the culinary arts, hotel management, and restaurant management gain experience by running an inn, restaurant, bakery, and commercial kitchen in several of the historic buildings.
Vancouver Barracks is also the venue for Ghost Stories, Vancouver’s premier annual heritage celebration. Through living history presentations and heritage-centered entertainment, performers tell the stories of the past residents and visitors to Officers Row. Thousands attend the event each year, and the proceeds are shared among the arts, heritage, and civic groups that partner to make the event possible.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2005.