Schoolhouse goes on the market

The San de Fuca schoolhouse, a historic building on Highway 20 overlooking Penn Cove, is up for sale.

The building, along with 6.2 acres of land on two lots, is listed at $629,000.

The eventual sale of the schoolhouse would be the latest in a series of attempts to find a new owner of the historic building constructed in the early 20th century. Those include an unsuccessful attempt to donate the property and failed negotiations to place a scenic easement on the property.

The building’s owner, Joe Keeva, had been negotiating an easement with Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. Those talks, however, fell through.

Keeva said the language of the easement was too restrictive and would have hampered the sale of not only the schoolhouse lot but the neighboring lots he is selling.

Rob Harbour, manager of Ebey’s Reserve, said he was disappointed that the talks with Keeva broke down.

He said the proposed scenic easement was identical to ones negotiated with property owners on Grasser’s Hill. The easement would have preserved such plants as aster curtis and the Garry oaks found on the front two lots that Keeva owns.

“It was pretty simple,” Harbour said.

Keeva, along with his wife, Sally Hayton-Keeva, bought and restored the historic school house in 2003. Sally, a local history buff, died from cancer in the summer of 2004.

Joe Keeva said he’s committed to ensuring the schoolhouse remains a community landmark.

“You can’t tear that thing down. Too much of my wife went into that thing,” Keeva said. He said an additional home can be built on the property, however that home couldn’t interfere with the schoolhouse or its view.

He added that he may reduce the price of the lot if someone commits to preserving the schoolhouse.

“I’m willing to reduce price if they would put an easement on it,” Keeva said.

If the $629,000 price stands, it will be considerably more than what he paid for it. He purchased the schoolhouse, along with 10 acres for $270,000.

He said he didn’t know the real estate market would cause property prices to skyrocket.

Keeva said he was willing to forego a profit when he tried to donate the building last year to the Island County Historical Society.

He approached the historical society, of which he was a board member, with an offer to donate the schoolhouse along with a $50,000 cash donation that would go toward maintenance of the one-room schoolhouse.

The board didn’t make a decision and, over the months, Keeva lowered the donation to $25,000 and then pulled the donation completely. The board rejected accepting the schoolhouse last December, saying the historical society didn’t have the economic resources to accept such a building.

Keeva said the donation, plus any money made from renting it out for weddings and events, would have been enough to maintain the 110-year-old school. He resigned from the board after the donation was rejected.

Keeva said he hasn’t yet received any offers for the building, but he has received calls from people interested in the property.

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