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Barn built in 1860s restored

Park Service Preservationist Jason Benson and Coupeville Lions Club member John Purcell install shingles on the historic Boyer Barn. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Park Service Preservationist Jason Benson and Coupeville Lions Club member John Purcell install shingles on the historic Boyer Barn.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Volunteers are working through sweltering heat to make sure a piece of Whidbey Island history is preserved.

Over the next three weeks, repairs will be made to the historic Boyer Barn, which is located near Fort Casey Road south of Coupeville. Volunteers, many of whom represent the Coupeville and Central Whidbey Lions clubs, are busy splitting cedar shakes that will comprise the building’s new roof. They will also strengthen the barn so it will remain standing for many more years.

The Boyer Barn was constructed around the time of the Civil War in the 1860s and little has changed since then in the barn’s appearance.

“This barn, for how old it is, is in remarkably good shape,” said Jason Benson, preservationist for the National Park Service, speaking Monday morning at the barn. He is directing volunteers during the four-week field school. He noted the barn is unusual because it’s a timber structure and the original hand-hewn wooden support beams still remain.

The barn’s shape and the materials used in its construction, such as vertical rough sawn siding and mortise and tendon joinery, adds to the building’s significance. The evidence showing the types of tools used to build the barn makes it particularly unusual, according to information provided by Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

“The field school will focus on specific priorities to making the building weathertight, providing for structural stability, and attending to conditions that may degrade the historic fabric or character of the structure,” said Harrison Goodall, historic preservation architect, in a news release.

“This is a really neat barn,” said Fred Bronson, a member of the Coupeville Lions Club who was helping stabilize the barn. He noted the barn had a lot of hay in it, chest-high in some places, when volunteers started cleaning it out and removing overgrown vegetation.

Volunteers will be working through Aug. 13. They won’t have to endure the entire day in the hot sun. They are working two shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. While Lions Club members appear to provide the bulk of the work for the project, anybody is free to participate.

The barn boosting project is part of the Preservation Field School conducted by Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. Officials established the school in 2008 as a way for residents to enjoy a hands-on experience preserving historically significant buildings. Last year volunteers installed a new cedar shake roof on the Alexander Blockhouse, located next to the Island County Historical Society Museum.

The Boyer Barn is one of more than 400 historic structures standing within the borders of Ebey’s Reserve. Most of those structures are privately owned. One of the purposes of the field school is to give people the tools needed to protect these structures.

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