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Forever Fund making memories
Kathy Baxter is a punch list away from completing her dream home.
As she walks through her newly preserved and renovated historic farmhouse in Ebey’s Landing National historical Reserve this week, she ponders how all the stars aligned at just the right time.
Last year Baxter purchased the Perkins House, built in 1890 and located on Ebey Road.
With the help of a grant from the Ebey’s Forever Fund and personal financing, Baxter was able to convert the old farmhouse into a dream.
The grant from the Ebey’s Forever Fund was $11,000 for windows, doors and siding. As with all of the grants, Baxter had to match the funds.
During the process, Baxter said, her goal was to make the house what it needed to be and not all about what she wanted.
Over the course of the year, she’s fondly named the house Mable.
“She just looks like she’s standing up straighter,” Baxter said this week.
As Baxter’s preservation project on the house nears a close, a new batch of property owners are being given the same opportunity.
The Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve announced its 2014 grant recipients.
The matching grants aim to stabilize and sustain iconic heritage buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An independent advisory committee was established to review the grant applications.
“With over $160,000 in funding requested, there were a total of 12 applicants, with nine projects awarded grants,” said Carol Castellano, office administrator for Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
Some of those projects include the installation of a hay mow floor and rafter stabilization at the Comstock Barn; shingle roof replacement and window protection at the Engle Water Tower; and chimney repair and window/sill restoration at the Old County Court House on Madrona Way.
“Ebey’s Landing Historical Reserve is all about the history of the people, their homes and their buildings,” said Paul Whelan, who served on the grant review board. “Ebey’s Forever Fund is keeping that history alive. It’s a pleasure to serve on the committee and to see the dedication that people in the community have to preserving the history of our local homes and buildings.”
To date, the Ebey’s Forever Fund has awarded more than $288,000.
That’s more than $576,000 into local preservation projects when considering they are matching grants.
“I think about this project alone, about how much it put into the local economy,” Baxter said. “There’s not a lot we didn’t get on the island.”
Baxter hired Whidbey-based contractor Pete Saltwick, who owns Ebey Restoration and Construction in Langley.
Baxter said she hired someone who had an understanding of historic preservation and someone who would care about the project.
“The hardest thing to do was managing all the people,” Saltwick said. “During disassembly, I knew what to expect. There were no surprises.”
Last April, the house was stripped to its bones. Siding was removed to uncover original siding and the roof was replaced.
While the siding was replaced to reflect the house’s history, much of it was able to be saved.
A lot of the materials for the project were repurposed. Exterior siding that couldn’t be used for siding was repurposed and used as interior trim.
“There wasn’t a lot of waste,” Saltwick said. “(But) If we couldn’t use it, we’d replicate it.”
Over the decades, the floors were covered with whatever the social norm was at the time.
After stripping the floors to the original hardwood, almost 100 percent of it was salvageable, Saltwick said. “The first half of the century, these were throw away floors.”
The floors were definitely a labor of love.
“We had a hard time getting the linoleum up,” Baxter said. “My hands hurt so bad.
“I’m pretty proud of these floors.”
A huge unanticipated expense of the project was complying with the county’s noise ordinance guidelines.
Every wall had to be thickened to repel noise, Baxter said.
The cost of adding a layer of “shear” to the house to fit county regulations — $10,000-$15,000, she said.
While it was something Baxter said she was initially resentful of having to do, she said ultimately was happy it was done.
She said the house doesn’t creak in the wind anymore and the house just feels much more sound.
“I’m going to appreciate that as much as anything else we’ve done,” she said. “The benefits far outweigh the cost.”