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Comstock Barn in Ebey's Landing gets a new lease on life

Don Hok, a preservationist at Channel Islands National Park, installs skip sheathing at the Comstock Barn located off Engle Road near Coupeville. He is an instructor participating in the Pacific Northwest Field School organized by the University of Oregon. - Nathan Whalen photo
Don Hok, a preservationist at Channel Islands National Park, installs skip sheathing at the Comstock Barn located off Engle Road near Coupeville. He is an instructor participating in the Pacific Northwest Field School organized by the University of Oregon.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen photo

A historic barn in the heart of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is getting a much-needed facelift thanks to the help of a handful of college students and volunteers.

Students participating in the University of Oregon’s Pacific Northwest Field School visited Ebey’s Landing last week to install a cedar shake roof on the Comstock Barn, which is located off Engle Road south of Coupeville.

Shannon Sardell, director of the Pacific Northwest Field School, said the barn is a significant part of the reserve’s historic landscape and, until recently, was at risk for demolition.

“The barn was in desperate need of repair,” Sardell said.

The Comstock Barn was constructed in 1934-35 by Freeman Boyer, Sr. on land owned by the Comstock family. It was originally used for sheep and then it became a squash storehouse. The historic structure is currently owned by Marshall and Judy English.

Students and volunteers were busy replacing the cedar shake roof and windows. They will return in early September to continue their work.

Graduate students, undergraduate students, concerned citizens, parks staff and historic architects comprised this year’s field school.

Field school members took a break from their work Thursday to attend a workshop conducted by Amy McCauley, a traditional sash joiner who owns Oculus Fine Carpentry based in Portland. She demonstrated how to glaze historic windows without the benefit of power tools.

The University of Oregon-based field school visits Washington state every three years. They last visited Ebey’s Landing in 2002 to complete projects at the Jacob Ebey Blockhouse and the Ferry House.

The project on the Comstock Barn is the latest of several field schools that occurred over the summer in Ebey’s Landing.

The Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing, along with the Port of Coupeville, organized a field school where volunteers installed new siding on the south wall of the Coupeville Wharf. High school students from throughout the state visited Ebey’s Landing in July to help repair windows at the Ferry House.

Annie Matsov, historic architect with the Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing, noted that three of the nine renovation projects that was funded by the Ebey’s Forever Fund have already been completed.

The Ebey’s Forever Fund provides grants to pay for preservation projects for the hundreds of historic buildings scattered throughout the reserve. This year $100,000 was awarded to 12 projects, one of which was the Comstock Barn.

Ebey’s Landing isn’t the only stop this summer for the Pacific Northwest Field School. They are at Deception Pass State Park this week rebuilding a picnic shelter that had toppled several years ago. The log and masonry shelter will take volunteers two weeks to rebuild.

 

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