SAVE THE DATE: Kent’s first ‘Historic Barns Tour’ will be Aug. 12

SAVE THE DATE: Kent’s first self-guided Historic Barns Tour will be held on Sunday, Aug. 12, from Noon – 5 p.m.

This is part of ‘Experience Historical Kent Month.’

More info here, or see below:

~Lazy River Farm/ Sidetrack Distillery
27010 78th Ave. S, Kent 11am-4pm

Located just upstream from the historical Alvord’s Landing where the local farmers in the late 1800’s & early 1900’s loaded their produce onto small river boats destined for Seattle, they have erected a new barn in the style of the late 1800’s, using doors from an 1800’s barn.

A tour of the barn and the surrounding farm on the banks of the Green River affords a peek at the yesterday’s small Green River Valley.

The added attraction is an old world style distillery that uses the beautiful produce grown on the farm to to produce world class liqueurs from the fruits, berries and herbs grown in our own special valley.

Those of age are welcome to try a taste of post prohibitions libations produced in our own beautiful valley.

~Mary Olson Farm
27828 Green River Rd SE, Kent 12-5pm

Visitors can tour inside the restored 1897 barn, pause and consider what life was like on a rural farm in the 1902 farmhouse, or wander through the century-old orchard and learn about the many varieties of apples and cherries Alfred Olson cultivated. Other restored and preserved structures on the property include a garage, weaving shed, chicken coop, outhouse, smokehouse, and 19th century wagon road.*

Meander through the interpretative panels throughout the farm. A docent will be present to give tours of the farmhouse and answer basic questions.

Starting at 2 p.m. listen to a free native flute concert.

~Kent Museum Carriage Barn
855 E. Smith St, Kent 12-4pm

The grounds of the Kent History Museum are fortunate to have one of the few remaining outbuildings of the past.

The Bereiter House’s Historic Carriage Barn was built in 1909 and first housed the horse and carriage of the Bereiter family, later to be converted into a garage for one of the first automobiles in Kent.

The Carriage Barn will be opened to the public for one day only to showcase the museum’s collection of historic quilts. Multiple quilts ranging from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century will be displayed.

~Dvorak Barn
Across from Van Doren’s Landing Park on Russell Rd, Kent.

We weren’t able to get access to the Dvorak Barn for an inside tour, but you can visit it from outside of the fence while touring the other barns!

This property is now slated for the levee expansion on Lower Russell Road and the barn will be torn down unless it is successfully moved to a new location.

Kent’s roots are in agriculture. It was the lifeblood of the valley for most of it’s history. In 1925 the barn was constructed by a woman named Grace Webster, along the Green River near Maddocksville and Van Doren’s Landings. The farmland was originally settled by the Neely family, well known pioneers of the Kent valley. Webster bought the land, then her husband came from the Philippines and they farmed the land for years with David Neely as their neighbor. The barn is named after the Dvorak family, the last family to farm the land. In 2016 it was listed on Washington’s Most Endangered Historic Properties List.

The 2,820 sq. foot barn would be a perfect venue for not only preserving one of the last remnants of the Kent Valley’s agricultural roots, it’s large size would be perfect for community events.

A group of Kent history buffs are hard at work trying to secure the funding to move the barn and find it’s new home, but time is running short. The barn is slated to be torn down next year.

If you would like to help save the Dvorak Barn, please contact Sharon Bersaas at [email protected].

~A bit of history:

The first Euro-American couple, John and Nancy Thomas, came to homestead in the valley on July 17, 1854. This area became known as the town of Thomas, which was around where 277th street, between Kent and Auburn, is now. More pioneers also settled in the area, with familiar names: Neely, Brennon, Russell, McMillens and more. By the time they would get to their land claim, they would have few reserves of food and money left, so they immediately started planting crops and making farms on the “prairies” and clearings that had been maintained through burning of the foliage by the Native Americans. There were very few open spaces for immediate use by settlers. The White River Valley was among the most desirable places for this reason. Most of King County was covered by thick coniferous forest and deciduous growth which had to be cleared before anything could be grown. These were called “stump ranches” because the stumps then had to be removed after the lumber was cleared. According to pioneer C.T. Conover, by the 1860’s all of the good river land had been taken up.

Farmers in the White River Valley communities had, by the late 1850’s, started selling their poultry, eggs, potatoes and wheat in Seattle. Native American canoes and pole-driven scows were the main means of transportation until small steamboats began to run upriver.

In the 1860’s and 70’s, the Green River (then still called the White River) had several boat landings. They were important places because they were the connection with the outside world, the place goods were shipped out and brought in and where the mail was delivered. Many of the landings also had a cable ferry crossing which was important since there were no bridges across the river at that time and the only real road in the area to connect the north and south was Military Road. Hops were a major cash crop in the valley for several years until the blight, then they moved on to lettuce and other produce, becoming the “Lettuce Capital of the World.”

The White River Valley had such rich farmland because the river flooded most years. However, in 1906, the flood was so bad that the County decided to permanently divert the White River into Pierce County, no longer joining with the Green River in Auburn. Despite rerouting the rivers, the valley still flooded often enough that in 1962 the Howard Hanson Dam was built to control flooding and to provide a water supply source for Tacoma. Protection from periodic flooding made real estate in the valley attractive to developers, so farmland started being sold to be turned into industrial parks and shopping centers.
Enjoy visiting some of our remaining historic barns!

For more info:
www.gkhs.org
(253) 854 4330