History through an architect’s lens

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by Reneé Mizar, Communications Coordinator, Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley

If history is in the details, the old buildings lining Sequim streets and the grand, timeworn barns still dotting the surrounding landscape serve as visible reminders of a collectively eclectic not-so-distant past.

“There is an undercurrent of style here, an interesting mixture of influences,” Sequim mayor and architect Ken Hays said of the area’s early structures.


“What’s interesting is how people here, with limited time and limited resources, found ways to emulate styles that were usually built out of very different materials and done in a very different way.


“I think people who moved to (Western) towns had a very high aesthetic and believed that when they built these early buildings, they were bringing culture to the prairie — to the wilderness.”


Hays will discuss several historical area buildings and barns in “Architectural Styles and Influences in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley,” a history program at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, at the historical Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road, Sequim.


The program is sponsored by the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley. Admission is $5, payable at the door.


Hays, who said style and fashion are hallmarks of great architecture, plans to present a photographic slideshow of local structures to illustrate common influences in key elements that define architectural style, including roofing, details, and building volume and shape, which is referred to as massing.


Hays said he hopes to offer program attendees a new way of understanding the aesthetic appreciation for old barns and buildings they likely already possess.


Among the local structures he plans to highlight are the Sequim Opera House, Sinclair Hotel, Sequim Trading Company building (now Hurricane Coffee) and Babcock Building, all located downtown; the Gothic Revival-styled Methodist Church building (now Olympic Theatre Arts) on Sequim Avenue and long-ago demolished Presbyterian Church on West Washington Street; the defunct 1950s-era Texaco gas station on East Washington Street; and the McInnes Barn, still standing on Jamestown Road.


“I’m impressed by some of our barns and just the simple beauty and thoughtful proportions of them. I’m sure that’s not something most people think about when they look at them,” Hays said.


Hays’ program marks the first of four local history presentations presented by the MAC this winter at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, which is ADA accessible. Additional programs also will be held at 10 a.m. on the third Friday of the month; they include the following topics:


• Friday, Feb. 15 — “A History of Sequim-Dungeness Valley Schools” with Irene Wyman, Kathy Monds and Esther Nelson.


• Friday, March 15 — “The Wreck of the S.S. Governor: A Requiem” with the Maritime Documentation Society.


• Friday, April 19 — “The Manis Mastodon Archaeological Site” with Clare Manis Hatler.


Hays, now in his fourth year as mayor, founded his own full-service architectural firm, Kenneth Hays Architect, Inc., in Sequim in 1988. He said overall Sequim’s architecture reflects its natural environment of wide-open prairie with low-rise, unobtrusive vistas.


For more information about MAC programs and events, visit or call 683-8110.
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