Historic sheep barn repurposed

Tucked away on the Pratt Loop Trail, a formerly dilapidated 1930s sheep barn will soon serve as a classroom. Rehabilitation of the National Park Service Pratt Sheep Barn is nearing completion, with a public open house scheduled for July 28.

“It’s not like it’s a fancy building,” said Kristen Griffin, Reserve manager for Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. “It just has so much to it as a sweet barn from that period.”

The building had been on the NPS “deferred maintenance” list for years until enough funding was secured among the Park Service, Friends of Ebey’s fundraising group and other donations to complete the significant amount of work needed to restore it. The structure needed a floor, new doors and a number of other basics to be usable as a classroom. Park Service preservation carpenters, who specialize in techniques used on historic buildings, have done the work.

“It’s all done the right way,” said Griffin.

The renovations included adding heating and lights, but other than those pieces of technology, Griffin said it’s meant to stay simple and close to its original form. The groups decided to keep a basketball hoop that was already in the building, although no one knows how long it has been there.

The building will be free to use for teachers, nature groups and nonprofit organizations. However, Griffin made it clear it will not be an event venue.

“We want it to be quiet and peaceful and educationally oriented,” she said.

A nearby machine shed that served the barn is also under renovation, but no plans have been made for it yet, according to Sarah Steen, preservation coordinator at the Reserve. As work has been done on the structure, old tools have been found and hung up on the wall. Steen and Griffin wanted to remind the public to leave found artifacts for others to enjoy at historical sites.

The opening of the classroom marks one of several ongoing projects as the Reserve celebrates its 40th anniversary. Griffin said the building would still be left to continue to deteriorate had it not been for the engaged groups and individuals that contributed to its rehabilitation.

“We don’t have a tremendous amount of resources,” she said. “And it never would’ve happened if people hadn’t come forward and helped.”

• More information can be found at www.nps.gov/ebla