Fixer upper

In an attempt to keep part of the landscape of Central Whidbey Island alive, a construction crew is working on a barn in the heart of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. Rather than an extensive renovation effort, the crew is working just to keep the barn standing.

On Fort Casey Road between the homes and the fields is a barn that has been empty and neglected for years. The roof had holes, the red paint is chipping off and and one of the walls toppled several years ago.

To save the old barn, manager of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve Rob Harbour said he was able to get $70,000 in emergency stabilization funds from the National Park Service.

“The priority is to get a roof on it,” Harbour said.

Currently, the beams supporting the roof are visible from the roadway. The new roof will keep within historic designs and will use cedar shakes. Workers hope to be done with the barn in early November.

The barn is of a similar design to at least three other barns in the area.

The three-person work crew comes out of the North Cascades National Park. They gained experience by restoring fire lookouts and old cabins that are hidden away in the North Cascades trail system, said Craig Holmquist, trails foreman for North Cascades National Park.

Workers from North Cascades have been working on reserve structures for the past several years.

For the past two years, crews have replaced the roof and repaired the foundation of the Ferry House near Ebey’s Landing southwest of Coupeville.

The barn presently being restored was built around 1940 by Gus Rueble who bought the farm and land from the Gillespie family in 1935.

In 1979, Reuble sold the property to Robert Engle. Three years ago the Reserve purchased the farm outright to ensure the land retains its agricultural purpose.

Harbour added that the barn’s future use is a bit more uncertain once workers finish their job.

“It’s kind of up in the air,” Harbour said. The barn is too small to store farm machinery but Reserve officials are considering other uses.

The barn, and the future of the Reuble and Engle Farm, are topics that the Reserve is dealing with as they map out a General Management Plan that should be complete sometime next year.

Harbour said he welcomes any public comments about the barn and the farms. Contact Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve at 678-6084.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at or 675-6611.

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