Hyer Farm hits the auction block
Posted on Wednesday 16 April @ 01:27:57
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
An attempt last year by county commissioners to buy the property was
"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
Tharinger said the county is not going to place a May 14 bid on the
"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,"
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