Porch work under way at historic Ferry House

Volunteer John Roomes helps install a porch at the Ferry House, one of two buildings being restored through the Field School at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.   - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Volunteer John Roomes helps install a porch at the Ferry House, one of two buildings being restored through the Field School at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Work to give visible historic landmarks on Central Whidbey a much-needed facelift  progresses.

Volunteers along with graduate students from the University of Oregon are sprucing up the Ferry House, located near the water at Ebey’s Landing, and the Kineth Water Tower, located near the southern edge of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The project is part of the “field school” operated by the reserve.

Workers were busy Wednesday afternoon installing a new porch that will be erected on the front of the building facing Ebey Road.

“I just like restoring these old places,” said John Roomes, who has been volunteering through the field school for several years. He was one of the team of volunteers who helped restore the Boyer Barn located off Fort Casey Road.

The Ferry House was built in the 1850s and served as an inn, tavern and post office for travelers making the trip across Admiralty Inlet between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.

Thanks to an outpouring of community support, the Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing received a $64,000 grant to pay for the project. For the next several weeks, volunteers will add a new porch on both the first and second floors of the historic structure.

In addition, volunteers will repair the two chimneys on the Ferry House. To accomplish that part of the restoration, a Kentucky-based mason specializing in historic structures is coming to oversee the chimney work.

The month-long field school is also an educational opportunity for graduate students. A group of five students in the University of Oregon’s historic preservation program came to Whidbey Island to participate in the field school. They have to complete 180 hours of on-site labor as part of their master’s program in historic preservation.

The students love their work.

“It’s one of the few ‘passion professions’ left in this world,” adjunct professor John Platz said. Students from the University of Oregon have helped restore other landmarks within Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. In 2002, they helped restore the Jacob Ebey Blockhouse that overlooks Ebey’s prairie.

In the spring, students also designed the Ferry House project using historical photos and images as guides to ensure a historically authentic project. Currently a scaffolding is surrounding the house so the chimney portion of the project can begin.

Volunteers are also rehabilitating the Kineth Water Tower, located on Salmagundi Farms near Outlying Field. They will repair the siding, replace gutters, repair windows, stabilize the structure and rebuild the porch.

Volunteers will also participate in several workshops in the coming weeks, including lessons in historic chimney construction; a brick and stone field trip; and a tour of Ebey’s Reserve buildings that received restoration funding through the Ebey’s Forever Fund.


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