Here are some photos of the historic buildings in our park.
Building Tour Information – Contact the Ferndale Heritage Society for tour times and information outside of the annual picnic dates. See Links Section for Ferndale Heritage Society contact information. Note that some buildings are available for private event rentals. Contact the Ferndale Heritage Society for more information.
Pioneer Headquarters Building (1925) was constructed on site of roughly 6″ diameter logs in a “log pen” that measures 15′ X 30′. The cabin is built of round saddle notched logs and has a cedar shake gabled roof. The roof has a projected overhang on the west gable end sheltering two registration windows. The entry door and a window are on the north elevation and a pair of windows light the southern wall. The building houses the registration office for the Pioneer Picnic and the City of Ferndale Parks Maintenance Supervisor’s Office.
Congregational Church (1876) is a 20′ X 30′ slab building with square notching, with a central door on the western side and three large double hung windows on the north and south sides. The gable roof is cedar shake and supports a bell tower with a 600-lb. bell cast in Cincinnati Ohio. The rear gable end (eastern wall) is covered in clipped shingles. The construction and log finishing was done with relatively crude tools. The church provides an excellent opportunity to view adz marks on the outside walls. The church was the first one built in Whatcom County and was originally located on California Creek, close to the corner of Loomis Trail Road near Blaine. It was moved to Pioneer Park in 1968 under the sponsorship of Elmer and Edna Pike.
In his 80th year, the Reverend W.M. Stewart visited his son in Whatcom County and quickly decided to move here and build a church. He had lead an active life: He was a nephew of President Lincoln, helped to form the Republican Party after the Civil War, and had assisted with the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862. The Zion Congregational Church stood peacefully alone along the banks of California Creek until the arrival of the Methodists. Although the two churches had California Creek between them, the waters were not wide enough to mute disagreements between the two congregations. The two churches did finally make peace and unite some years later.
From 1914 to 1955, the Tom Snow family lived in the Church. Virginia Derr (a Snow by birth) recounted a time while living in the church when her parents were away, and she and brother Loren, were home alone. Loren and a visiting friend were playing with a shotgun when it accidentally discharged, peppering the logs in one corner of the room with shot. The friend was so frightened that he ran for home as fast as he could, and Loren begged Virginia not to tell their parents when they came home. Though the walls have since been whitewashed, some holes are still visible. Whitewash, a popular home-grown substitute for paint, was typically made by mixing 50 pounds of hydrated lime, ten gallons water, ten pounds salt, two pounds alum and one bar laundry soap. Formaldehyde could be added to make a disinfectant whitewash. The ingredients were melted and mixed together 24 hours before the whitewash was to be used, and if necessary, more water was added before using; the ideal mixture was the consistency of a thin cream. Meetings are still held in the church from spring to fall and it is growing as a popular location for small weddings.
Granary (1887) is a one-story 25′ X 30′ foot split log building with hook notched corners and is generally primitive in design. The building has an oversized doorway on the west wall and a small window on the eastern side. The low-pitched roof has board and batten gable ends and is cedar shake. The logs of the building are of small dimension. John Gischer built the Granary on Marine Drive in Birch Bay. Gischer was one of the earliest settlers of the Birch Bay area. It was moved to Pioneer Park in the 1970s. The building was originally intended to be a house but ended up as a granary and now holds many of the tools that Mr. Gischer used on his homestead. One of the earliest dragsaws manufactured in Bellingham is displayed in the Granary. These types of saws were designed to be drug from tree to tree by the sheer will of the operator. The large red dragsaw on the west wall had a sign on the underside, whereon the company that manufactured it in 1846 boasted that this was the ultimate invention for sawing wood and couldn.t be matched. An early grain fanning mill constructed of crabapple wood by Mr. Gischer in 1872 or 1873 and more modern grain fanning mill run by stationary engine or tractor are located in the back of the building. Small mills worked by fanning away the seed hulls, leaving clean, chaff-free grain kernels behind. Also on display is a hand-cranked drill press (known as a post drill in blacksmith terms) and stump puller. Getting rid of the stumps was one of the most difficult jobs the early settlers had to contend with. Among the many small tools displayed in this building is a horn cutting tool. Cutting back the horns of the cattle was a messy, difficult and dangerous job as the horns bled and the cattle usually resisted the procedure.
Foster House (1895) is a two-story building that measures 25′ X 32′. The building displays very large, roughly split cedar logs measuring between 12 and 24 inches thick with square notched corners. The house has a shed type roof that covers the entries on the west and south ground floors. There are paired windows on the east and west ground floor elevations and a single window on the ground floor south. Additionally there are single windows in the north and south gable ends of the second floor. The cedar shake roof is supported by round log purlins running the length of the structure and frame brackets under the eaves. The Foster House was donated by D. Ross and moved to Pioneer Park in the 1930s by long time Old Settler Association member William Scrimsher. It was the first cabin to be moved to the park. The interior walls were covered with newspaper and have proven to be a valuable tool for dating. We may not know how much earlier the Foster House was built, but we can know for sure that it wasn.t built later than the date on the papers. Commercial wallpaper was only used if it was readily available and the owner could manage the added expense.
The Foster House is filled with photographs, letters and other reminders of the past including a handmade license plate, shovel-nosed canoe, a plank from one of the plank roads and a bell from the Ferndale Nooksack River ferry crossing (prior to any bridges).
Shields House (1885) is the most carefully crafted building in the park. It is a two-story residential structure built with a .T. floor plan which, accommodates raised, covered porches on the east and west elevations. The building, including porch area, measures 25′ X 34′ which was considered large at the time. The preparation of the logs for this house involved planing on all surfaces, beautiful compound dovetailing at the corners and mortised walls to accomplish the complicated floor plan. There are three windows on both the upper and lower levels of the front west walls, paired windows on both levels of the north side and single windows up and down on the west and south walls. There are entries onto both porches covered by shed type porch roofs. The gable ends are shingled and the roof is cedar shake.
The Shields House was built on the Old Guide Road south of Wiser Lake. It was moved to Pioneer Park in 1950 by the Whatcom Old Settlers Association and represents the second building moved to Pioneer Park. The Shields house is a monument to craftsmanship of the early pioneers and specifically to Conrad Shields who constructed the house. Cedar trees were cut down, bucked into the proper lengths, and pulled by three ox teams belonging to Shields and his neighbors. Each log, some thirty feet long were split and mortised and dovetailed so precisely that no nails are needed to hold them together. Weather boarding came from the old Shelter mill on Deer Creek, and the inside ceiling and wall lumber was hand split, hand dressed and tongue and grooved by hand until it looked like the millwork.
The house is furnished as it may have been years ago. The wicker lamp in the parlor dates to the 1920s and the wallpaper is thought to be from the 1940s. The dress displayed on the mannequin inside the house belonged to Mrs. Cora Shields.
This is the Shields first of four houses. The second Shields house has been converted to the Whatcom Brewery located behind the former Harlin Hovander residence in Ferndale (adjacent to the Ferndale Library). The third Shields House became the Legoe House The fourth Shields House, Mrs. Shields dream house, is the former Harlin Hovander residence across from house number three. Mrs. Shields is reported to have been Whatcom County’s first traffic fatality when she was crossing the street from the third house to the new house of her dreams.
Parker House (1879) is an “L” shaped building with a two-story main section measuring 25′ X 25′ with an additional one-story 12′ X 12′ foot rear wing. The log slabs are dovetailed at the corners and foursquare planed. The building has a main entry under a shed roof porch on the front west elevation. It has two rear entries on both the main section and the wing. Because it served as a commercial building there are very large storefront type windows flanking the front entry and oversized openings on the other ground floor elevations. The roof is cedar shake.
The Parker House was built across the river from Pioneer Park and was one of East Ferndale’s original buildings. According to George LaBounty, who later bought the house, Eugene Parker lived in the house for 52 years. During 1882-83 it served as Charlie Dowden’s Hotel and was frequently filled to overflowing with incoming, land hungry, settlers who slept on mattresses put down on the floor. This house was donated to the Whatcom County Parks Department by owner Dr. Greg Harvey in 1974 and was stored over at Hovander Homestead Park for some time. It was completely dismantled in 1979 and moved to Pioneer Park sans any photos, plans or system of numbering the pieces. Fortunately, Fred Sutcliffe the City of Ferndale’s Parks Maintenance Supervisor could remember exactly how the building looked and reassembled the building over a period of a month. The Parker House is set up as a country store, which at one time it was. Pioneers often set up a store in the corner of their house, sometimes just a few shelves, selling whatever was surplus amongst their own supplies. Freight came infrequently and it behooved the prudent to order as much as they could afford at one time.
Grandview Rogers House (1877) is a two-story building measuring 20′ X 40′ with the main entry set in the west gable end elevation. There is a gabled porch with end facing out to repeat the upper main roof gable. The house has two windows on the west ground floor, two on the south and one each on the east and north. In the upper story there is a single centered casement window on the west elevation and pairs on the remaining three sides. This building, more than any other in the group, displays the patching and filling that could be done to slab buildings in order to accommodate varying sizes and types of window replacements. The building displays excellent, very early compound dovetailing. The roof is cedar shake.
The Grandview Rogers House was built across the Nooksack River from Ferndale. LeRoy Rogers later moved the house to Portal Way and Grandview. It was also used as a dance hall and hotel. John Young purchased the building in 1952 from Charles Cowden and sold it later to Al Jensen. The house was to be burned down in the 1970s. Pioneer Park was given one week to get it moved off of the property or it would have burned.
There were three separate, unrelated sets of Rogers brothers among the early settlers . one at Blaine, Everson and Ferndale. According to Jeffcott, in 1881 when Arthur Rogers first arrived, just three log buildings existed in all of east Ferndale.
The Grandview Rogers House currently functions as a Veteran’s Museum, displaying uniforms and military memorabilia donated by a variety of local veterans. The two W.W.II Japanese flags on display are one of the most interesting exhibits. A local man married a Japanese woman who was so impressed with the Ferndale Pumpkin Growing Contest she sent some pumpkin seeds home to Japan. Eventually, a group of friends and relatives from Japan visited Pioneer Park. While they were being shown the buildings, they walked into the Veterans. Museum and were visibly shaken by the two flags, especially the one signed by their countrymen. It was their belief that the spirits of the men who signed the flag will never be at rest until the flag is returned, yet on the other hand, the museum had been entrusted to keep the captured flag at the park in Ferndale. Through some often delicate and diplomatic negotiations, the flags remain as artifacts in the park. The hometown of the signatories of the flags has since become a sister City of Ferndale.
Van Buren Post Office (circa. 1879) is a very early example of small-scale cedar slab buildings. It is a single story building with simple dovetailed corners and only measures 12′ X 18′. This building was likely constructed from a single tree and probably built by only two people using an ax and crosscut saw. It has a single entry on the west elevation and single windows on the north and east walls. The roof and front gable is cedar shingle.
The Van Buren Post Office was originally located on Van Buren Road. It was first established as a post office 3 miles north of Everson on the Milwaukee Rail Road on October 2, 1891. It served as a post office until November 14, 1918. The post office had four postmasters during its history: William Van Buren, Andrew Kirkman, Allen Holstein, and Mary Acikinson. It was later moved to Berthusen Park in Lynden and, in 1994, was brought to Pioneer Park in pieces. Local Eagle Scouts and the City of Ferndale Park Maintenance Supervisor reassembled the building.
Jenni House (1873) is a saltbox house with a two-story section in front and a single-story shed type section in the rear. It measures 30′ X 30′ and has a hipped porch roof over a centered front entry. The house has paired windows on the ground floor of every wall and a rear centered entry. The log working on the building is very skilled and employs compound dovetail notches and interior wall tendons There is a single window in the gable end of the upper floor on the south and paired windows on the north. The roof is cedar shake.
Jenni House was built near Laurel on the old Northwest Diagonal Road, which was at that time, only a trail. This road was eventually planked and made accessible to wagons by 1885. It connected Bellingham to Ferndale and eventually Canada. The house was used as a stagecoach stop where travelers could refresh themselves with a meal or an overnight stay. At one time a community dance hail was located on the second floor. The first sawmill located north of Whatcom was built in 1882 on a portion of Jacob Jenni’s 160 acre parcel. The fir table in the back room is from a solid piece of wood, 8 feet long 4 1/2 feet wide and 6 1/2 inches thick. It was the mill owner’s conference table. Jacob Jeni donated 5 acres of property for the Woodlawn Cemetery on Northwest Road and was the first to be buried there. He died in 1886 at the age of 56.
The Old Settlers had the building moved to Pioneer Park in 1989. The upper portion of the building had to be detached during its relocation to the park. Doing so was required so that it could pass beneath the railroad trestle on Main Street. It is currently being shown as a residence. The tin ceiling is not original to the building, but is typical of the time and was made by W.F. Norman & Sons of Nevada, using original molds.
Lopas House (1878) is a small one-story cabin measures 14′ X 20′ with adz cut slabs, square notched at the corners. The building has a main entry on the east side which opens onto an elevated porch under a shed roof. The building has a second entry, porch and shed roof on the south wall and windows on all but the back. The gable ends are board and batten covered and the roof is cedar shingle.
Edwin Lopas built the House. He was a former stove molder from Illinois. Lopas located his homestead on a high knoll in the Mountain View area. He was a very active communit member, and was Postmaster at the Mountain View Post Office from 1899 to 1908. Afterwards he successfully operated a shingle mill on his property. The two story cabin was remodeled several times to accommodate his growing family. Intalco Aluminum Corporation bought the original site and moved the cabin to their employee recreation area. In 1990 Intalco donated the cabin to Pioneer Park, where it now displays newspaper and printing memorabilia. The linotype equipment on display in the cabin was a process first used in 1866 and is still used on occasion to print newspapers and other items. Some of the printing equipment in the cabin is still functional and is occasionally run for demonstration purposes.
Barrett House (1874) is a single-story cabin 18′ X 20′ feet with a pair of entries on the north and west sides. Like the Grandview Rogers House, it has window patching in addition to the existing openings on all but the south wall. Like many slab cedar buildings, it was sided over inside and out and was only discovered to be a slab cedar building recently (it was sometimes common to side these types of buildings as an early form of remodeling facelift to bring them current with the times at hand). The notching is dovetailed and the roof is shingle. The building was donated to the Old Settlers Association by Pete and Sandie Hanson and moved to Pioneer Park in 1989.
Thomas E. Barrett, who came from Ireland in 1868, built this House. He was one of the earliest white settlers to the area. He took a native wife and they raised seven children in this cabin. When more space was needed, a lean-to was added to the building to accommodate the overflow of family members. According to Chet Speziale, Mr. Barrett was a day late and a dollar short in nearly everything he tackled. He explored for gold in the foothills of Mt. Baker, worked as a clerk at the Sehome Coal Mines, and ran a tavern in Fairhaven where he had an enigmatic reputation for being an “genial Irishman”.
Barrett was called as a witness for the prosecution, in the trail of Blanket Bill Jarman, on February 27, 1872. Jarman worked as the bartender in the Bellingham Bay Coal Company Store where Barrett was the clerk. Jarman allegedly killed Jim farmer. Jarman must have been acquitted, because on April 25, 1872 he got married and Barrett was a witness at the marriage.
Barrett retired on his claim on the shores of Barrett Lake, then called Trudder. He set up a Post Office and all mail to the Ferndale area was addressed to the individual in care of Trudder Post Office, Whatcom County, Washington Territory. Frequently, the first settler on the scene would setup a post office, since it only required one government form and a few dollars. They then encouraged others to come, making it sound more like a town existed there. They sold the newcomers part of their land donation claim and used the proceeds to finance clearing and other improvements on the remainder of the property.
Thomas Barrett was the clerk of the Ferndale School District, which had 50-60 pupils on November 13, 1875.
It seems probable that the quiet life of the homestead on the lake did not meet the approval of Barrett’s liking, for by the end of 1876 he had leased and rented the Bellingham Bay Coal Company’s Saloon at Sehome. Unfortunately for Barrett, the BB Coal Mines for some time had been losing money and had quietly decided to close up the business. Accordingly, they began disposing of their goods and machinery. Thus Thomas Barrett’s saloon soon became a near desert and his profits dried up with his business.
He then turned toward another field of operations and announced that he would organize a prospecting party to search for the hidden wealth of gold on the upper South Fork. Seems to be quite a gold excitement in the Nooksack River. A Whatcom County newspaper reported that in 1878 Thomas Barrett was sending a prospecting party up the river. The party departed in 1879 and returned six weeks later claiming to have reached a point in the river about 100 miles from the mouth, further than any white man had been known to travel.
Barrett then returned to the farm on the lake and took his place beside his fellow settlers to help boost the interest and development of Ferndale. In 1879 a number of Barrett’s neighbors met at his home to butcher hogs. Among those present was a man by the name of Brown. Brown had filed on the place later taken by William Baer. Brown had a very attractive wife, and a man by the name of Peter Galiger was paying considerable attention to her which created suspicion in Brown’s mind that he was trying to steal her. A quarrel ensued and Brown stabbed Galiger to death with a butchers knife. Brown immediately fled the country and Browns wife later sold the property and left the area.
Thomas Barrett was part of the delegation for statehood in 1889. He died on October 13, 1889 and is buried in Woodlawn cemetery. Thomas Barrett had ten children, six boys and four girls with his wife Fanny.
The Barrett House is reported to have had visitors of a different kind. .A friend one day came to visit the house in its new location and although no one was home, the visitor claimed he saw somebody upstairs in the window. Perhaps Mr. Barrett came to visit.. It’s possible that it is a friendly ghost looking over and protecting this wonderful old home from decay and destruction.
The Barrett House displays Post Office memorabilia collected by retired Postmaster Chet Speziale. A horse drawn Postal carrier’s wagon dominates the center of the cabin.
Holeman House (1890) is a single story 25′ X 35′ foot split round log building with dovetailed corners and very rustic woodwork. The building has entries on the south and west walls and single windows on every side. The building is crudely constructed by comparison to the other cabins located in Pioneer Park.
The Holeman House was either a shack in the woods or once a schoolhouse before it was donated to Pioneer Park in 1985. This building, located on Mountain View Road, was covered with Blackberry brambles, and the bottom logs were so completely rotted that they were left behind when the building was disassembled to be moved. John Holeman was a logger and farmer who claimed Daniel Boone as an ancestor. The cabin is an example of some of the more primitive cabin building skills of the early pioneers. The Holeman House is used to depict a typical one room school setting. Early log cabin schools had few windows and no electric light, leaving the interior shrouded in gloom on cloudy days. Neither did they have plumbing. Washing up was completed outside, drinking was from a communal dipper and outhouses, usually one for each gender, were located out back. A metal railing to protect students and provide a place to dry wet mittens and clothes surrounded the woodstove. Since many in the surrounding community set their clocks by the school bell, it behooved the teacher to have a good watch for she was soundly criticized if her timing was off.
Lynden Jail (circa early 1900s) the jail was constructed somewhere near Lynden in the early 1900s. It has two cells. The original location of the 10′ X 12′ building is still somewhat of a mystery. In the 1930s or so the building was moved to private property where it was used for storage. The building was then moved to Berthusen Park in Lynden where it remained for several years. The jail was moved to Pioneer Park by the a members of the Lynden Antique Tractor Association in 1996.
Barr Barn (circa 1890s) the Barr Barn was originally located on Main Street in Ferndale on the site of the Haggen Foods Grocery Store. The homestead on which it was located had relatively few owners over its history. The 32′ X 50′ barn was donated by Haggen Foods and moved to Pioneer Park by the Old Settlers Association when the grocery store was constructed in 1996. The barn features mortise and tennon construction with wooden pegging, and is indicative of the barns of the period. It has a walk in man door on the east gable wall and two large sets of sliding doors centered on the north and south walls. There are no windows. It has vertical board and batten siding. It has a single cupola on top of the gable roof. The large sliding doors enable a hay wagon to be driven in one side to unload hay, and out the opposite side once unloaded. The current loft floor and stairs on the west half of the barn was added by the Old Settlers Association for storage. The barn also had a shed roof type lean-to, extending form an “L-shape” from the northwest corner of the main structure. At this time the lean-to has not been re-erected, however it may be re-erected in the future.
Tillicum House (1926) is a stick frame building with clapp-board siding. The building was constructed on site. It was built by the Old Settlers Association as a meeting/dance hall. It is a single story building that measures 35′ X 55′ and has a gabled roof with asphalt shingles (originally cedar) and a poured concrete foundation. The main entry is on the west gable wall. Inside it has a kitchen area along the west end, as well as a small bathroom and janitor closet. One the west end of the building is shed-roof type lean-to with a food vending window. There is a door into the lean-to from the kitchen only. The Tillicum House was also intended to provide a place suitable for food service and it still serves as a community center and meeting place for the Old Settlers Association. Tillicum means, .Friend. in Chinook Indian jargon.