More than twenty years later, local merchant Simon William Shafer had other plans for the Castle. In the fall of 1919, Simon and Joyce Shafer bought cattle and farm property in Winthrop with plans to move the following spring. Unfortunately, the winter of 1919-20 was particularly rough, and with a corresponding drop in stock prices, the Shafer family promptly lost their original investment.
Nevertheless, as happens to so many who visit this picturesque valley, they were already smitten with the Methow and determined to make it their home. Simon took work as a hired hand for a local farm. With their three young children, they settled into life in the Methow. Shafer was industrious and hard working and saved enough money to buy ownership in the Winthrop Meat Market, and here is where the story of the Shafer Museum starts to take shape.
Simon’s store quickly grew into a general merchandise store. Renamed the Shafer Store, it sold everything from thread to plowshares. Famous for bartering, Simon rode out the Great Depression by trading merchandise for produce, livestock and heirlooms. Bit by bit, he collected a trove of tools and treasures from early Methow settlers’ lives. In 1943, Simon saw the perfect opportunity to preserve an important piece of Methow Valley history: he purchased what was once the Waring Castle as a place to house and share his growing collection. In 1948, the Shafer Museum opened to the public.