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Auburn embraces restored, historic Olson Farm
A fully restored 1897 barn, a 1902 farmhouse, a 100-year-old orchard, three salmon runs in Olson Creek, a smoke house, an outhouse and a weaving house.
More than 180 people braved a drizzly, Northwest Saturday to check it all out during the grand opening act of the restored Mary Olson Farm on Green River Road.
Kent residents Marc Pearce and Cathy Decker liked what they saw.
"We read about it in the paper and we were going to Lowe's and decided to take a side trip," said Pearce as a couple of roosters cock-a-doodle-dooed at each other from opposite sides of the farm. "Cathy and I drive by this main road quite a bit on our way to the golf course, and it always looked interesting back in here. It's really cool. Somebody had a lot of time and patience and did a very good job of restoring it."
"I thought it was nice that they saved the original windows," Decker added. "I think it would be cool to hear how they kept warm."
As opening-day visitors checked things out, kids romped, wrassled, giggled and tossed hay in the barn.
"I think we may find that over the decades this becomes quite a draw," said Patricia Cosgrove, director of the White River Valley Museum, taking refuge from the rain on the back porch of the restored house. "Most places in the state don't have anything like this.
"I've heard a lot of comments like 'we never thought we'd get to this,' and 'we never thought this day would come' and 'you're gonna need shoe wipers at the door,' and even 'how about a big thing of umbrellas?''' Cosgrove said.
When work began on the house, the porches had been removed, there was no way to get upstairs, there was a hole in the ceiling, there were no chimneys, there was no stove, no electricity, no heat. Because most of the walls were gone, most of the wall coverings were gone.
Inside the restored house is a shiny new antique stove, wall paper, fixtures and antique furnishings.
"The fact that they put all this together is really admirable," said Lakeland Hills resident Grace Leach after touring the house. "My husband Bruce and I have done a lot of traveling, and we have not seen 67 acres put back to its original situation like this."
The City bought Mary Olson Farm through the King County Conservation Futures Fund in 1994. After a period of planning, the museum began the work in 1996. The restoration budget totaled $1.64 million, of which the museum raised $1.61 million with City support, donations and grants. The museum officially recognized the donors at the grand-opening.
Today this King County Landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Not only will it operate as a living history and environmental learning site, but the City will also make it available for community and special events.
Despite the ongoing restoration work, Mary Olson Farm has hosted field trips for first and sixth graders in the Auburn School District since 2007.
Olson Farm's drop-in hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during these weekends: June 25 and 26; July 9 and 10, 23 and 24; Aug. 13 and 14, 27 and 28; and Sept. 10 and 11. Admission for the summer drop-in hours is $5 adults, $3 children/seniors and $15 for a household or family.
For more information, visit www.wrvmuseum.org.