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Port of Skagit Expresses Interest in Northern State Property

Burlington – The Port of Skagit Board of Commissioners unanimously directed port staff April 12 to work collaboratively with the City of Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County and other appropriate entities to investigate acquiring the Northern State Hospital property from the State of Washington for the benefit of the community.

The state Department of General Administration has announced plans to dispose of 10 surplus properties across Washington, including the 226-acre Northern State campus near Sedro-Woolley, within the next two years. Northern State was built in 1909 and operated as a psychiatric hospital until it closed in 1973.

The commissioners agreed that the port would need to partner with other local organizations to develop Northern State to its full potential in providing economic, social and environmental benefits for eastern Skagit County and beyond. The City of Sedro-Woolley and the Washington Military Department also have expressed interest in acquiring part or all of the former Northern State site. Preliminary talks between port and Sedro-Woolley officials have taken place in recent weeks.

“The Northern State property has the potential to contribute significantly to the economy of Sedro-Woolley and the surrounding area as a whole in terms of jobs, recreation, nature trails and history,” said District 3 Port Commissioner Bill Shuler. “I hope we can work with our partners to make this happen. Many of us remember fondly when Northern State was operating fully.”

District 1 Port Commissioner Kevin Ware noted that the Port of Skagit has a history of acquiring land for industrial development dating back to its creation in 1964.

“Prior port commissioners had the foresight and wisdom to acquire properties like this that benefit Skagit County to this day,” Ware noted. “Northern State presents a rare opportunity for this port commission, and we should act on it. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often.”

The Northern State site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year. It includes several core buildings in Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, and the landscape was designed by the Olmsted Brothers, one of the nation’s most celebrated landscape architecture firms at the turn of the 20th century.

If you are a reporter seeking information about the Port of Skagit, please call Linda Tyler, Community Outreach Administrator, at 360-757-0011 or email