The restoration of a historic farm | Guest column

Submitted by Rami Amaro

The new owners of the early 1900s Lawson farm would like to share an update on their progress on restoring the old farmsted. They purchased the farm in summer 2015. The Lawsons had not resided on the property for years but used the farmhouse for farmworkers and the farm for agriculture and water.

The barn suffered from powderpost beetle damage to the siding and posts and was ballooning as a result. It needed new siding, posts, braces and collar ties. The old siding was then used in the interior of the barn and on the outside of the granary. It also needed new flooring, which was replaced with salvaged material. The new siding was milled on island by Bill Moss. The granary building had very little roof left, resulting in a rotted floor and the destruction of its contents. It needed a new roof, siding and floor. The old dairy shed (later butchering shed) needed cleaning, a new paint job, and doors and windows replaced. The restorations used vintage material, including siding, posts and beams from another salvaged barn. Longtime islander Allan Smith was instrumental in the restoration of the barn, the outbuildings and all of the woodwork in the farmhouse.

The farmhouse needed complete restoration. It had to be lifted for a new foundation to be poured. The roof had to be cut off in order to pull the walls into alignment, which had ballooned out over a foot. A new roof was installed, and the interior of the house was reframed, maintaining the original footprint. All new electric, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and insulation (it had none) was installed, along with sheetrock, paint and interior fixtures. Many original items were restored and reinstalled, including the clawfoot tub, light fixtures and a chest of drawers that was turned into a bathroom vanity. Bricks from the original chimney were removed and used to build the new mantle. Finally, porches were added and the carport was enclosed.

The fences needed work and replacement, which is in progress. The soil is being remediated having previously been used to graze a large herd of cattle. The creek has cleared up substantially. The overabundance of various noxious weeds has been minimized. Many new trees have been planted. A swimming area has been added at the pond. Sheep graze, dogs roam and barn cats stand guard against rodents. A recycled windmill and grain tank were added. All items of interest or value from the farm were offered to the Lawson family and, later, the historical museum.

We hope the property will become a fully functioning, self-sustainable farm, preserved for the community to enjoy. With the anticipated restoration of the farm’s water, many of the plans will come to fruition: agricultural crops; livestock; whiskey distillery; event facility; farm education; and farm stays. We encourage everyone to stop by. Thanks to Chris Lawson and Ruthie (Lawson) Paull and their families for all of the help and information they have provided and to the many local businesses that participated in the restoration.