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Brickworks gets a boost on Saturday as work party draws a crowd

Equipped with a face mask and sturdy gloves for protection, volunteer laborer Roger Ellison removes a window sill during the Brickworks work party Saturday in Friday Harbor.     - Liza Michaelson
Equipped with a face mask and sturdy gloves for protection, volunteer laborer Roger Ellison removes a window sill during the Brickworks work party Saturday in Friday Harbor.
— image credit: Liza Michaelson

The transformation is under way.

A small army of volunteers showed up Saturday as the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild hosted a work party to prepare the former site of the Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Co., 150 Nichols St., for a new life as the home of a year-round farmers market and events center.

Equipped with crowbars, hammers, garbage bags and leather gloves, and packing elbow grease aplenty, the work party of 40 or so volunteers tore down walls, ripped up linoleum floors, dismantled false ceilings, removed broken glass and barbed wire, and heaped loads of garbage and refuse into pickups for disposal. It took just a few hours for the group to spruce up the building for possible holiday events and to ready it for its pending renovation, the Agricultural Guild noted in a press release.

"A long table full of good food kept the spirited crowd going," the Guild noted in its press release. "And curious passersby stopped to offer encouragement and support."

Purchased by the Ag Guild in September, the property consists of one-third of an acre and the 90-year-old building, the last remaining industrial building in Friday Harbor. Dubbed "Brickworks" by the Ag Guild because of its ties to Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Co., which manufactured blocks used in the construction of many downtown heritage buildings, including Town Hall, the 150 Nichols St. site will feature a year-round farmers market, an events center and an area of public open space once the remodel is complete.

The Ag Guild completed the purchase in September despite the failure to win County Council support for a $400,000 conservation easement sale to the San Juan County Land Bank. In addition to a $300,000 loan, the purchase was paid for through the combination of a $375,000 state grant, a $99,990 USDA grant and assorted donations.

The Guild credits Rob Waldron and Megan Jones, Ag Guild volunteer coordinator, for their respective work-party planning and organizational prowess.

To participate in future work parties, contact Jones at willowcrestfarm@yahoo.com, or call 378-4917.

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