In a way, it was like a scene from Gulliver’s Travels this past weekend on Anderson Island.
A detailed, miniature replica of a soon-to-be-built “H-shaped” structure was the center of attraction during the May 9 groundbreaking. Surrounded by lots of really tall people, the building will take shape on a field adjacent to Anderson Island Historical Society’s (AIHS) Johnson Farm community garden, When finished later this year, it will measure 5,000 square feet.
The 40-year-old island history preservation organization timed the event to take place during May—National Historic Preservation Month. The miniature was created by Island miniature-experts Mark and Rosemary Zilmer. Formed in 1975, AIHS had planned to construct an archival center designed to replicate surrounding farm buildings.
Islander Bettymae Anderson proposed that an archival building be constructed “when the society celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2000,” said Rick Anderson, museum funding manager. Those attending that early session agreed that planning should start to complete the building by 2025. “And now, 15 years later,” Mr. Anderson continued, “here we are, poised to take the final step to make this building a reality. Will we really get the job done 10 years early? If I have learned anything about this community, it is to never underestimate the ability of retired people to accomplish something. Especially if the project manager is Ed Stephenson!”
Besides the dedicated island residents who worked toward this, they received a big boost of a quarter of a million dollar grant from the Washington State Legislature. “As you all know, the cost of this building is going to end up being about half a million dollars. In addition to the generous grant from the…state of Washington through its legislators, we have nothing short of phenomenal support from the community, and are well within reach of meeting our funding goals.”
The AIHS grant from the state was a small part of the funds appropriated under the “Projects That Strengthen Communities” Program, specifically for an addition to the Johnson Farm Museum on Anderson Island. The grant was included in the program by Sen. Jim Honeyford with support from the late Sen. Mike Carroll. It is being administered by the State Commerce Department, Community Capital Facilities.
Anderson credited architect Mort James, superintendent John Larsen of Oro Bay Homes, and Duane Lewellen, who provided the “dreaded energy study” that enabled the Society to prove that “what the code required us to use for insulation and equipment really was adequate” for moving the plans forward. Dignitaries included Sen. Jim Honeyford, Sen. Paul O’Ban, and Rep. Dick Muri, as well as Society members.
As with previous island projects, this one also will rely heavily on a group of talented, local volunteers to provided the match for the grant, but that’s a well-established factor in its success for any Island community project.
Music by the Anderson Island String Quartet comprised of island-born musicians from the Rick and Melissa Anderson Family, i.e., Samuel, Jacob, Mary and Larissa, floated over the field as guests gathered for the sunny afternoon ceremony in a setting deemed to be “the jewel of the island.” With vegetables and flowers flourishing in adjacent community garden plots, expect to see this huge “crop” ready for harvesting later this year.
(Please see a related story about a fund-raising golf tournament scheduled for September, to be published on June 4).