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Visiting teachers help restore Ebey’s Landing landmark
School teachers from Wisconsin and Minnesota spent their summer break improving Central Whidbey’s landscape.
They traveled to Whidbey Island to help restore a small landmark on Ebey’s Prairie north of Coupeville.
More than a dozen teachers participating in an organization known as Teacher Restoration Corps installed a new cedar shake roof on the Sheepherder’s House, a small structure located off Ebey Road near the Ferry House. They hope the work ensures the building will stand for years to come.
“These are volunteers coming from Wisconsin and Minnesota at their own expense to preserve the cultural heritage of Whidbey Island,” said Harrison Goodall, who is helping coordinate the restoration effort.
He said that without the work, the building would likely topple soon.
The Teacher Restoration Corps is a Wisconsin-based organization that organizes preservation projects throughout the country, most recently assisting with several preservation projects in the Grand Teton National Park. Dave Dobkoski of East Troy, Wisc., founded the organization 16 years ago and has been organizing projects ever since. He has a pool of 350 people to help with projects. He first learned about Whidbey Island when he met Goodall in Wyoming.
In addition to the new roof, volunteers also spent the week improving the foundation and sealing the building.
Cathy Krause, a teacher from Minneapolis, said she first learned about the restoration group two years ago when she was camping in the Tetons.
“It sounded really interesting to me so I kept it in the back of my head,” Krause said. When she decided to visit family on Shaw Island, she thought it would be a good time to help with some preservation work.
Whidbey Island volunteer Richard Howell said the roof, along with any other horizontal surface on the building, was porous. The building was also treated to prevent insect damage and the windows were sealed to keep out any unwanted visitors.
The work was made possible through the efforts of the Island County Historical Society and an $8,500 grant from the Ebey’s Forever Fund, which helps pay for restoration projects for historic buildings located within the boundaries of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
The Sheepherder’s House was built sometime in the early 20th century. It is wedged between farm fields and a wooded area on Ebey’s Prairie.
“This is a focal point of the whole prairie,” Goodall, who is a board member for the Island County Historical Society, said.
The Sheepherder’s House, owned by Ralph and Dave Engle, is one of a number of preservation projects taking place around the reserve this summer. Volunteers are busy making improvements to the nearby Ferry House and the Kineth Watertower located near Outlying Field. The Ebey’s Forever Fund also provided dollars for improvements to the Hancock Granary and the Coupeville Wharf.