We knew bits and pieces of the history of this barn From Rita Hansen, a Hilby Grandaughter from whom we purchased this land in 2010. Trying to discover when it was built was difficult. It started with researching the family. Being a genealogy geek, Dale tracked down all of the Hilby descendants so he could begin to understand who was who. This was no easy task as there were a LOT of Hilbys! After a couple of trips to the NW room at the library and the Washington State Archives in Cheney and lastly a stop at the NW Museum of Arts and Culture, the picture was becoming clearer. However, we were still unsure of the exact age of the barn and if it was actually worth saving. It had fallen into disrepair and we needed to either take it down or fix it up.
One day while pondering this question and poking around inside the barn, Dale happened to look up and found the proverbial break we were looking for. The page at right from the Spokesman Review was glued to the underside of the roof sheathing. It was dated May 6, 1906.
We've covered it in plexiglass to preserve it for all to see.
This gave us an ‘at least as old as’ date. And based on the ages of the ancestors at that time it had to be built by William even though we’re not sure they actually lived there since then. We also believe the home was originally built as a simple gable roof home with the shed roof addition to the south being added in that 1906 time framed so it is likely the home was built prior to that date. I’d like to think this picture of William is him sitting in the door of his home.
After learning all of this, we HAD to renovate it and keep this beautiful old barn.
Since it was originally a residence, a portion would become a ‘bunk house’ for our property and an event space for any soirees our small home could not accommodate. Lastly, it could provide a place for Dale to conduct his mad experiments into wine making.
We became aware of potential restoration funds available through the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The first step was to get the barn registered on the Heritage Barn Registry which we did in 2019. To receive any funds however, we would have not been able to change any of the features of the barn or use it as we had intended. In early 2021 we started ‘peeling the onion’.
We began gently by peeling the siding off the sides we were going to modify in March of 2021. The first big task was to raise the SW corner as it had sunk about a foot. After getting a couple of siding boards off, we discovered more newspaper, all dated 1906.
Once we got to jacking up the corner, we discovered just how tiny the ‘foundation’ was and decided we would need to pour another footing and foundation around the three downhill sides of the barn and an interior floor as well. The winery addition plans also began to take shape.
Over the Summer and Fall, framing began on the winery addition with the help of some good friends. We were able to insulate on top of the roof framing before adding a new roof to preserve the interior as original. Our goal was to re-use as much of the original materials as possible as we opened up the south side for a garage door/deck and repositioned the doors. After sandblasting and painting the exterior. We started in on the roof in a race against the weather as winter was coming. Fortunately, snow held off and we were able to get the roof on and the final pieces of siding on the winery as the first snow began to fall!
During the winter and spring of 2022, we worked on the interior. We reused the old exterior siding we pulled off as interior wall finishes. The old tin roof became the wainscotting. (The transition trim pieces came from our neighbor’s barn that he replaced a few years ago and we had stored in this barn -yes we are packrats!) The light fixtures were made from an old block & tackle and some horse team rigging that we found in the attic of the barn.
In the bunk house, the walls, ceilings, and floors are original, except in the bathroom. We thought about restoring an authentic outhouse, but County Health Department, and common sense dictated otherwise.
The kitchen range is not original to this space, but it is close to the age. We found it in Wenatchee, WA and brought it here to live and hopefully will be restored to working condition. The same is true of the old radio which was a gift from Cheryl’s brother Andy from Vancouver, WA.
We found many things while under construction in addition to the newspaper clippings. Inside the walls we found some treasures that are prominently displayed around the space including the vintage Campbell’s Soup can & cocoa box on the microwave. Hanging on the outside of the bathroom walls are more clippings from a newspaper dated later that we found stuffed into the wall between the bunk house and the current winery. There is also the lid to an old board game that had slipped from the attic down into the wall cavity. In addition to those, we found a fishing lure, playing cards, and a children’s conductor figurine that are in the library. Above the radio are some old pictures found in the barn and cleaned up. Of note was an old painting of Yosemite National Park which would have been very close to where the Hilby’s grew up in California.
While looking to see just how close to Yosemite they were, I ran across towns called, “Bummerville”, and “Tragedy Springs”. No wonder they traveled north! There was also a town called Willow Springs….. hmm… a coincidence? I think not.
The rest of the things you’ll find are from us adding our own touches.; our fondness of books, cold beer and the dog prints in the finished concrete over by the wood stove are good examples.