Letters to the Editor

Otto built the big red barn

I just read the March 9 story about the recent fire in our beloved Roller Barn. First of all I want to say for all of us, “Thank God someone had the foresight to install a sprinkler system and it worked!” What a sad day and great loss was averted luckily.

Second, the correct spelling of Dutch builder’s name is Otto VanDyk. James Neil hired him to design and oversee building the largest barn ever built at that time on the West Coast.

A huge dinner and dance was held in the barn in 1913 to celebrate its completion. People came from all over for the barn warming which later housed Neil’s cattle and hay. The Neil family lived in the old farmhouse which was the original 1880s Capt. George Morse “mansion” as it was called.

It was in the year 1950 when Soran Rasmussen and Darrell his brother-in-law, along with help from their wives, came up with the idea of buying the old barn to turn into a roller rink. It was a large gamble for two middle-aged men, who left steady jobs and were raising large families, to take on. Their venture was a success. Wheels have rolled since and many dances and parties have been held in the old town icon.

Otto VanDyk also built many other large round top barns in the Oak Harbor area, as well as the building downtown which was the Ford Garage and now the Old Town Mall, as well as many homes.

Peggy Darst Townsdin
San de Fuca

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