Editorial: Ferry House needs endowment

Money that keeps on giving. Now there’s a novel approach to federal spending.

Such a spending approach would assure future maintenance of the historic Ferry House in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. The old house is one of the Reserve’s many treasures, reminding visitors of the time when people arrived on the island by boat, walked up to the welcoming Ferry House where half a dozen or so would share the bunks upstairs, and then set out by horse-drawn vehicle to all parts of the island. Even the outhouse out back remains as a reminder of the good old days.

But keeping the Ferry House in its proper stage of disrepair is costly. It has to look old, but can’t be allowed to fall apart. A new roof put on last year shows how it’s done — it doesn’t look like a new roof at all, but will last for years.

Unfortunately, the roof was about the last of the money available for maintenance. So the Nature Conservancy which owns the 35-acres surrounding the Ferry House has made a $500,000 proposal to Congress. Give us the money and we won’t spend it, but we’ll set up two permanent endowments, one to maintain the Ferry House and one to provide ecological stewardship.

The $500,000 would grant an easement to the National Park Service, which already owns the Ferry House, so Congress would be getting something concrete for its money, as well. The Park Service would rightfully gain control of the historic land around the house.

The $500,000 would come from a fund provided by offshore oil and gas receipts. Congress, which knows a national treasure when it sees it, has used this fund in the past to provide $4.2 million to Ebey’s Reserve projects. All we ask is a little more to assure the Ferry House will survive for the enjoyment of future generations.

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