Ivy Stacey and her husband Jim lived above the offices of Arrow Tug and Barge at the foot of 14th Street in an apartment Jim built.
Almost 50 years later she returned as a guest of the building's new owners, the Columbia River Pilots, who have turned the Stacey's former home into a vacation rental. Recently they hosted a grand opening for the new space, dubbed "The Pilot House," with a reception for Stacey and several of her relatives.
New furnishings and fixtures have been added, but the space is largely the same as when the Staceys first moved in in 1956, with the same room layout as well as the original wood floor, most of the original windows and even the same fireplace with its sheet-metal facade.
"We wanted to keep as much of the history as possible," said river pilot Capt. Elroy Olson.
The Staceys occupied the apartment six or seven years before selling the company to the Knappton tug company. Living in the apartment built on pilings over the riverbank was "wonderful," Stacey said, but it was hard for her husband, Arrow Tug's owner, to ever leave work behind.
"The thing I didn't like was, we would get called any time of night for a tug," she said. "They didn't want to talk to the night man - they wanted to talk to Jim."
Betty Curtis, a niece of the Staceys, remembered visiting the apartment as a kid. She and her cousins would watch the cars and passengers get on and off the Astoria Ferry from the 14th Street dock.
She remembered one cousin who caused a panic when she hid inside a closet in the apartment, leading the adults to worry she had fallen into the river.
The new rental suite is one phase in the pilots' plan renovate the historical buildings, which the group, for years a tenant of the complex, recently purchased from Foss Maritime. The project will include the renovation of the structure on the landward side of the complex, the former Pacific Machine and Blacksmith building that the pilots are considering converting to retail space.
The Pilot House can be booked by calling the River Pilots at (503) 289-9926.