40 for 40: Skamania County
L’Hommedieu Heritage Barn

By Holly Chamberlain previous story | next story | all stories

Established in 1884, Skamania is one of 18 Washington counties which touch on the Columbia River, and its dramatic and varied topography runs from water level up to its highest point on the west slope of Mt. Adams. Despite the diversity of landscape and the fact that 80% of the land is national forest, the county incorporates about 144 farms and ranks about 34th in the state for quantity of agricultural products sold (especially fruit and nuts).
The L’Hommedieu Heritage Barn in Stevenson symbolizes Skamania County’s agricultural past and present. The Washington Trust was a strong proponent for the creation by the state legislature of the Heritage Barn Initiative, which is managed by the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The Trust has continued to support the program, and advocate for funding for the Heritage Barn Grant Program, which it administers. 

The L’Hommedieu Barn is believed to have been built between 1895 and 1915 by John (Johannes) M. and Enga (Inga) Fosse, Norwegian immigrants (1888 and 1891, respectively). The 1900 census lists the Fosses as farmers in Stevenson, and the 1910 census records John as a carpenter, although living in town, which lends credence to the tradition that he built the barn. Both Enga and John are buried in the Stevenson Cemetery.
The wooden barn has a gable roofline with integrated lean-to. On the interior one can see the beam and brace construction, and adz marks on a hand-hewn portion. Currently used for storage, the barn has been owned by the L’Hommedieus since 1997.
You can sample some of Skamania County’s agricultural products at the Stevenson Farmer’s Market in on Highway 14 on Saturdays between 10 am and 1 pm through October 8.  
Nominations are due for the Heritage Barn Register on September 16 to be considered for designation at the February meeting of the Governor’s Advisory Council. This is the 22nd round of nominations for this popular program. More than 600 barns have been designated so far throughout the state. More info about the register can be found on the online through the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust in honor of our accomplishments as we celebrate this year together! Continuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

Here's to 40 more years of saving places that matter across Washington! Please sign up for our special weekly e-newsletter to recieve stories like this in your inbox all year long.

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