Community

Barn is icon in valley

Paul Hansen and his wife, Deborah Keeting-Hansen pose with their listing open-sided barn in the background.  - Sequim Gazette photo by Patricia Morrison Coate
Paul Hansen and his wife, Deborah Keeting-Hansen pose with their listing open-sided barn in the background.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette photo by Patricia Morrison Coate

 

Fund the barn

The Hansens hope the community will support their endeavor to restore the barn by coming to their first barn-raising fundraiser dance from 7-9 p.m. Friday, June 6, at Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road, Sequim.

 

 

 

 

When you drive into a driveway on Frost Road, southwest of Sequim, you immediately observe a barn that’s seen better days. Its roof is listing toward the east and simultaneously buckling on both sides. The moss covered roof has lost enough shingles to let rays of sun illuminate sinking and rotting support poles.

The easy thing would be to take a bulldozer to it — Deborah Keeting-Hansen and her husband Paul Hansen have elected to do the hard thing — to restore the barn built around 1940, not just for their use, but for heritage’s sake.

“I’ve lived here all my life in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley,” Deborah said, “and I hate to see any history being lost. This barn is part of the history of the valley and desperately needs to be preserved.”

Deborah grew up on the farm with her parents, Ralph and Ninna Keeting, who bought 67 acres from dairy farmer Henry Frost in 1948. Frost felled fir and cedar timber from the farm’s forest to construct the barn.

It was built as an open-sided hay barn nearly 75 years ago to prevent spontaneous combustion of drying hay. The west side had a milking parlor and Deborah’s father milked a dozen cows for Darigold over 14 years. The barn used a system of a claw and pulleys to bring the loose hay in for storage until 1960 when they began baling hay. The hay hook is now property of the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, courtesy of Deborah’s mother, Ninna.

“The barn always has been in use continuously by family or neighbors. Nobody wanted to see it collapse,” Deborah said. “It has an enormous sentimental value to my family. A lot of people loved that barn and asked us to preserve it.”

Two engineers said the 50-foot by 50-foot barn definitely was salvageable and that it would be less expensive to restore it than to build a new one.

There’s a practical side to the restoration, too. The Hansens raise a fair amount of sheep and need the barn for lambing and hay storage.

They’ve named it the “Ninna Barn,” after Deborah’s mother.

The Hansens found out about a Heritage Barn grant program through the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, Washington State Heritage Barn Register, and applied two years ago, to no avail. When they applied again, they pointed out that no barn in Clallam County had received a preservation grant from the state. This time they wrote another grant and were approved, signing a contract with the state recently to restore the barn by the spring of 2015. One of the state’s stipulations was that the barn be accessible to the public.

“I want people to know this barn is being preserved as a Heritage Barn,” Deborah said. “We’re losing an average of two barns a year in Washington and we’ve lost some really beautiful and impressive barns. We’re on a dead end so people don’t know about it. The few that find it do take pictures.”

Paul added, “The whole project is $40,000 and we have to come up with half of that and that’s cash.”

“This farm is part of the North Olympic Land Trust and it has promised volunteer labor. The project will take about a year. We do have some materials from the (demolished) Schneider barn by the Dungeness River and Towne Road,” Deborah said.

She added, “We have a development easement with the Land Trust and it holds development rights, so when the farm is sold, it has to stay agricultural land.”

“We’ll probably be starting this June,” Paul said. “I’ll get some friends and people to help me with it. We’ll need jacks, braces and pulleys because we have to lift up poles so some can be replaced. The roof has to be replaced and then the barn has to be straightened up.”

The barn is significantly listing to the east and has a tree growing through it.

 

Fund the barn

The Hansens hope the community will support their endeavor to restore the barn by coming to their first barn-raising fundraiser dance from 7-9 p.m. Friday, June 6, at Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road, Sequim.


 

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