Pioneer Park Cabins

Pioneer Park was created from 4 acres of uncut Western Red Cedar trees purchased by the Whatcom Old Settlers Association in 1901 for the purpose of holding its annual pioneer picnic, a continuing tradition that is today considered one of the oldest celebrations of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. In 1925, a dance hall building and a headquarters building were constructed at the entrance to the park. With an interest in preserving local pioneer history, the Old Settlers Association has gradually moved abandoned pioneer structures to the park beginning in 1935. The slab cedar houses at Pioneer Park, built in the late 1800s, have all been relocated here from their original sites of construction at various locations around Whatcom County. Today these preserved cabins are the most important assemblage of this distinctive regional style of rustic pioneer architecture.

On June 1, 1972, the Old Settlers Association turned the property over to the City of Ferndale to be operated as a public park. In 1993, the Ferndale Heritage Society was formed to assist in managing the cabins and opening them to the public. In 1999, the park was placed on the Washington State Heritage Register. The following descriptions of the pioneer park cabins are excerpts of information compiled by Bob Nelson for the website www.whatcomoldsettlers.com, which has extensive additional information.

Jenni House

JenniHouseIMG 5846 300pxJenni House was built in 1873 near Laurel on the old Northwest Diagonal Road, which was at that time, only a trail. This road was eventually planked and made accessible to wagons by 1885. It connected Bellingham to Ferndale and eventually Canada. The house was used as a stagecoach stop where travelers could refresh themselves with a meal or an overnight stay. At one time a community dance hall was located on the second floor.

The first sawmill located north of Whatcom was built in 1882 on a portion of Jacob Jenni’s 160 acre parcel. The fir table in the back room is from a solid piece of wood, 8 feet long 4 1/2 feet wide and 6 1/2 inches thick. It was the mill owner’s conference table.

Jacob Jenni donated 5 acres of property for the Woodlawn Cemetery on Northwest Road and was the first to be buried there. He died in 1886 at the age of 56.

The Old Settlers had the building moved to Pioneer Park in 1989. The upper portion of the building had to be detached during its relocation to the park. Doing so was required so that it could pass beneath the railroad trestle on Main Street.

It is currently being shown as a residence. The tin ceiling is not original to the building, but is typical of the time and was made by W.F. Norman & Sons of Nevada, using original molds.

View the Jenni House Gallery

Lopas House

LopasHouseIMG 5876 300pxLopas House is a small one-story cabin built by Edwin Lopas in 1878. Lopas was a former stove molder from Illinois who located his homestead on a high knoll in the Mountain View area of Ferndale. He was a very active community member, and was Postmaster at the Mountain View Post Office from 1899 to 1908. Afterwards he successfully operated a shingle mill on his property. The two story cabin was remodeled several times to accommodate his growing family.

Intalco Aluminum Corporation bought the original site and moved the cabin to their employee recreation area. In 1990, Intalco donated the cabin to Pioneer Park, where it now displays newspaper and printing memorabilia. The linotype equipment on display in the cabin was a process first used in 1866 and is still used on occasion to print newspapers and other items. Some of the printing equipment in the cabin is still functional and is occasionally run for demonstration purposes.

View the Lopas House Gallery

Barrett House

BarrettHouse 300pxIMG1843Thomas E. Barrett, who came from Ireland in 1868, built this house in 1874. He was one of the earliest white settlers to the area. He took a native wife and they raised seven children in this single-story 18’ x 20’ cabin. When more space was needed, a lean-to was added to the building to accommodate the overflow of family members.

According to Chet Speziale, Mr. Barrett was a day late and a dollar short in nearly everything he tackled. He explored for gold in the foothills of Mt. Baker, worked as a clerk at the Sehome Coal Mines, and ran a tavern in Fairhaven where he had an enigmatic reputation for being a "genial Irishman."

Barrett retired on his claim on the shores of Barrett Lake, then called Trudder. He set up a Post Office and all mail to the Ferndale area was addressed to the individual in care of Trudder Post Office, Whatcom County, Washington Territory. Frequently, the first settler on the scene would setup a post office, since it only required one government form and a few dollars. They then encouraged others to come, making it sound more like a town existed there. They sold the newcomers part of their land donation claim and used the proceeds to finance clearing and other improvements on the remainder of the property.

Thomas Barrett was the clerk of the Ferndale School District, which had 50-60 pupils on November 13, 1875. He was also part of the delegation for statehood in 1889. He died on October 13, 1889 and is buried in Woodlawn cemetery. Thomas Barrett had ten children, six boys and four girls with his wife Fanny.

The Barrett House was donated to the Old Settlers Association by Pete and Sandie Hanson and moved to Pioneer Park in 1989. Today, the house displays Post Office memorabilia collected by and in memory of retired Postmaster Chet Speziale. A horse drawn Postal carrier’s wagon dominates the center of the cabin.

View the Barrett House Gallery

Holeman House

HolemanSchoolHouse 300pxIMG1842Holeman House, built in 1890, was donated to Pioneer Park in 1985. This building, located on Mountain View Road, was covered with blackberry brambles, and the bottom logs were so completely rotted that they were left behind when the building was disassembled to be moved. John Holeman was a logger and farmer who claimed Daniel Boone as an ancestor. The cabin is an example of some of the more primitive cabin building skills of the early pioneers.

The Holeman House is used to depict a typical one room school setting. Early log cabin schools had few windows and no electric light, leaving the interior shrouded in gloom on cloudy days. Neither did they have plumbing. Washing up was completed outside, drinking was from a communal dipper and outhouses, usually one for each gender, were located out back. A metal railing to protect students and provide a place to dry wet mittens and clothes surrounded the woodstove. Since many in the surrounding community set their clocks by the school bell, it behooved the teacher to have a good watch for she was soundly criticized if her timing was off.

View the Holeman House Gallery

Barr Barn

BarrBarn300pxBarr Barn, circa 1890s, was originally located on Main Street in Ferndale on the site of today’s Haggen Foods Grocery Store. The homestead on which it was located had relatively few owners over its history. The 32’ X 50’ barn was donated by Haggen Foods and moved to Pioneer Park by the Old Settlers Association when the grocery store was constructed in 1996.

The barn features mortise and tennon construction with wooden pegging, and is indicative of the barns of the period. It has a walk in man door on the east gable wall and two large sets of sliding doors centered on the north and south walls. There are no windows. It has vertical board and batten siding. It has a single cupola on top of the gable roof. The large sliding doors enable a hay wagon to be driven in one side to unload hay, and out the opposite side once unloaded. The current loft floor and stairs on the west half of the barn was added by the Old Settlers Association for storage. The barn also had a shed roof type lean-to, extending form an "L-shape" from the northwest corner of the main structure.

View the Barr Barn Gallery

Lynden Jail

LyndenJail300pxLynden Jail was constructed in the early 1880s near Lynden, WA. It has two cells. The original location of the 10’ X 12’ building is still somewhat of a mystery. In the 1930s or so, the building was moved to private property where it was used for storage. The building was then moved to Berthusen Park in Lynden where it remained for several years. The jail was moved to Pioneer Park by members of the Lynden Antique Tractor Association in 1996.

View the Lynden Jail Gallery

Larsen Cabin

LarsenCabin 300pxIMG 0416The Larsen Cabin is said to have been built by Johann Jern in 1893. It was located on the West Badger Road. The Cabin's architecture, precise cuts of the cedar with large square nails on each corner, can be traced back to early Scandinavian and English techniques also used in the Hudson Bay area. In 1909 it was purchased by Chris Larsen. In 2007 the owners contacted some of the stakeholders of Pioneer Park and donated the Cabin. The two room cabin has a unique plank ceiling and is displayed as a trapper cabin.

View the Larsen Cabin Gallery

Mt. View Schoolhouse

MtViewSchoolhouse 300pxIMG 5856After many years of planning and working through the intricate details, the society was successful in the fall of 2015 acquiring the historic Mt. View Schoolhouse and moving it to Pioneer Park.

The little Red School House was built in 1916 as a Teachers' Cottage for the West Mountain View School. The West Mountain View School was located on the northeast corner of Terrell (now Lake Terrell Road) and Douglas Road. The Mountain View District is west of Ferndale. In 1891 the Mountain View School District was divided into West Mountain View #55, East Mountain View #20 and North Star #75. The West Mountain View School was established March 21, 1891.

In 1916, the school grounds consisted of three acres and already had the main school of three class rooms, gymnasium, outhouse, stable and wood shed. The first Teacher who stayed in the cottage taught one term and married in the cottage at the end of the term. After the wedding the cottage building was used as the class room for the primary grades.

In 1908, the enrollment numbered 111 students in grades one through ten, with three teachers. In 1945, the Whatcom County Library System was just starting and the little Red School House was the Library System's first Branch. This Branch of the Library operated until the end of 1989.

The Mountain View School District 55 consolidated with the Ferndale School District during the 2nd World War between 1942 and 1947 with the children being bussed to the Ferndale Schools. The last classes were held in June 1947. The school building and gymnasium were sold for the lumber. The little Red School House remained untouched and became the Mountain View Community Hall which continued to house the Mountain View Branch of the Whatcom County Library System. The building was also used for parties, game nights, community meetings and picnics, 4-H meetings and the meeting place for the Orthopedic Guild.

The building survived an arson fire in 1982 and was rebuilt by volunteer community members. The building also had a 4-H friends group who helped in the rebuilding, painting and landscaping.

The Mountain View School/Library has had a colorful past including the 4-H club whose members rode their horses, brought their cows, goats, rabbits and dogs to the Library on Library day for the exercise and getting the animals ready for the fair. Then there was the mama skunk that lived under the building and had her babies there for several years in a row. She happily scared people by sitting on the porch or smelling their tires, until the 4-H Club put up a sign saying "Guard Skunk on Duty". After that every visitor knew to watch for her. Other times foreign sailors (who didn't speak English) would see the Red Building with the porch light on and they would sit across the street to watch the people come and go as patrons would try to explain that the building was only a library with books.

After the closing of the Branch Library the Mountain View Community Club and Intalco Aluminum Corporation agreed that Intalco would move the building to its Totem Terrace Recreation area and care for it until it could be moved to a park. Intalco has been kind through the years about looking after the building and keeping it from harm. Everyone from the Mt View community is very grateful to Intalco.

View the Mt. View Schoolhouse Gallery

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