40 for 40: Clallam County
John and Bertha Hyer Farmstead

By Holly Chamberlainprevious story | next story | all stories

One of the Harry Potter novels introduces a supernatural conveyance called the Knight Bus which magically travels from place to place while also rearranging buildings, other vehicles, and street furniture to clear its route. All of them are placed back in their original locations without any of the Muggles (non-magical people -- i.e. most of us) noticing.

I have heard more than one preservationist say something akin to, “if only we could magically move the building to another place.” When the Washington Trust was involved with saving Clallam County’s Hyer Farmstead, the non-magical but often effective tools of a Most Endangered listing, comments at public meetings, and numerous communications with county commissioners and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) were used instead – but there was a move involved.

The Hyer Farmstead near Sequim was placed on the Trust’s Most Endangered list in 1994 because of demolition threats due to the re-routing and expansion of Highway 101. The truly stellar collection of early 20th century farm buildings, considered at the time to be one of the best surviving rural properties on the Olympic Peninsula, included the farmhouse, barn, and water tower -- all placed on the National Register in 1994.

In 1996, WSDOT moved the farmhouse closer to the barn to allow for the construction of the new road bed. Then-Trust Board member David Harvey worked with the county and state over a number of years to offer marketing assistance to WSDOT to buttress plans for selling the property as well as explore other avenues of preservation. Throughout the long process, WTHP urged WSDOT to maintain the property appropriately. Various plans were developed over the years whereby WSDOT would sell the property, and/or retain part of the property, and both the county and a local citizen’s group called Sequim 2000 expressed interest. In the spring of 2003, the farm was put up for public auction, with Trust-supported restrictions in place to preserve its historic character. The successful local bidder proceeded to work on farmhouse rehabilitation, seek funds for preservation of other buildings on the site, and work towards an overall agricultural use. At the time, the moving of the house was considered quite controversial but it is interesting to see how the thinking on the issue of context has evolved.

Still very important – but many preservationists today would be more likely to more easily accept such a small shift as this as a way of saving a significant resource. The farm was removed from the Most Endangered list in 2004 – after it had achieved notoriety as one of the longest listings to date.

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. This story highlights one of our most popular programs, the Most Endangered Historic Properties List, and shows just how much need there is for advocacy across the state. If you would like to support this program and spur more positive outcomes for Washington's historic resources, please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust to support the advocacy work we do through our Most Endangered ProgramContinuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

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