Hyer Farm hits the auction block

Posted on Wednesday 16 April @ 01:27:57

Sequim Gazette

Hyer Farm's property and its historic buildings appear abandoned.

Weeds cover much of the ground and the large, faded red barn looks like a good puff of wind could topple it.
Now the buildings and property are officially abandoned. The state Department of Transportation set a May 14 date to auction off the 3-acre site west of Sequim listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An attempt last year by county commissioners to buy the property was dropped.

"We had first rights to purchase it because we own the adjacent property," said county commissioner Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness. "Our public works department said we cannot take on the project right now."
Tharinger said the county is not going to place a May 14 bid on the historic site.

"We had a group together with the lavender growers and other farmers but it never came off," said Tharinger. "At this point I do not know if any other groups are pursuing it."

Although the county is out of the running for the property, an artist group wants to find a way to use Hyer Farm.
The Hyer Art Space, a committee of 20 members, first expressed interest in the Hyer Farm in March 2001. County commissioners considered purchasing the farm and leasing it to a nonprofit group. By October 2001, Hyer Art Space completed an expanded business plan calling for 12 art studios, each for a different art medium, for a total of $83,000.

As a historic site, the state Department of Transportation requires the successful bidder to obtain review by the state Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, "for any projects that may affect the historic character of the property," according to the auction information. Renovation of the large barn is estimated at $300,000.

The oldest and most recognizable building on the farm is a 30-foot-tall red weatherboard barn, built between 1917 and 1920. The barn includes an overhead trolley system for moving hay bales into lofts on either side of the bay. The north side of the barn housed milking parlors, while the other was rigged with an automatic stock watering system. Among the other buildings remaining at Hyer Farm are a colonial farmhouse, built sometime before 1925; a craftsman bungalow, built in 1925; a 12-by-12-foot, 18-foot-tall water tower, also built in 1925; and a utility building built in 1923 that includes one-half of Frank SwansonÕs original one-room cabin.

Swanson purchased the farm in 1913 and owned it for 10 years before selling to John Hyer. The Hyer family sold the property to the state in 1997 for the Highway 101 bypass. The earliest-known owner of the property was Benjamin Potter, who homesteaded the then-80-acre parcel in 1892, according to research compiled by Craig Holstine and provided by the state transportation department.

Working with Sequim?

Barbara Boerigter, spokesperson for the Hyer Art Space, said she spoke with Sequim Public Works Director Jim Bay about obtaining city help in acquiring the site.
"He asked me for a copy of the expanded business plan to bring to Olympia," said Boerigter, "and I also gave him the four letters of encouragement from the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sequim, the Forks art group and Friends of the Fields."

The notice that the farm was up for bid came April 13, and Boerigter has not even had time to contact her committee members to determine whether they want to pursue purchasing the farm. At this point, Boerigter hopes Bay is successful in convincing the state transportation department the city has residents interested in revitalizing it.

Bay said he is speaking with transportation officials next week in Olympia about the upcoming Sequim downtown revitalization plan.

"When I go to DOT I will take their (Hyer Art Space) plan and see if anyone there has seen it or what their thoughts are about it," said Bay.

He said the city is not committing to buying the land, only in his delivering Hyer Art Space's proposal. "I am basically the messenger boy on this," Bay said.

He did say the historic site needs an owner dedicated to preserving a part of Sequim's history.
"Somebody needs to do something soon," said Bay, "before the buildings are beyond repair."

--by Betty Oppenheimer and Dan Ross
Gazette staff writers
Published 4.16.03


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