Kangaroo House

Then & Now

The year is 1907, a nickel buys you a double feature, wearing a bathing suit without a skirt will get a woman arrested for indecent exposure and there won’t be electricity in the San Juan Islands for another 30 years. On Orcas Island, on the site of a 160 acre homestead, stone mason and renowned builder DW Gafford has just completed a 2 year project creating an Arts and Crafts era craftsman style masterpiece built from locally felled Douglas Fir, Western Redcedar and fieldstone. A five flu chimney made out of vitirfied clinker bricks overlooks the grand 6,600 sq ft structure. Oversized doors and windows are ornately finished with brass and bronze accents and leaded stained glass. Guests are promised the luxury of “fully plumbed bathrooms in every bedroom with hot and cold water”. 

 A new kind of tourism is budding in the San Juans. Fortunes are being made by the middle classes in Seattle and Vancouver and they are coming to vacation and send their children to summer camps. The new hotel is named Aloha recognizing the cattle ranching families in the San Juans with Hawaiian heritage. Ships loaded with lumber and lime from the Pacific Northwest were returning with sugar and pineapples. The Aloha has the only restaurant on the island. 

The hotel was bought by Captain Harold “Cap” Ferris during the Great Depression. He brought home a wild kangaroo, named Josie from a voyage to Australia. She was said to be able to predict the weather and would lie down under the big cedar tree when a storm was coming. Locals began to call the Hotel Kangaroo House. 

Over the years there have been numerous renovations and updates. Todays guests enjoy luxurious accommodations surrounded by old world charm.  

Kangaroo House Bed & Breakfast is the longest continuously operated B & B in the San Juans and is celebrating its 42 year! 

Old Kangagroo house photo