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Sears kit house still haunts farm

"The continuing story of the Greenbank Farm's rapidly-deteriorating house on blocks - well -- continues.The boarded up 1912 Sears kit house remains standing at the entrance to the farm despite the fact that two move it or lose it removal dates have come and gone, and that farm managers are quite willing to give it away.At a Greenbank Farm Management Group meeting Thursday, president John Teutsch reiterated the group's desire to get the house off the farm's land. The derelict structure's appearance so near the highway creates a bad image for the farm, they say, and potentially hurts business at the farm's shop.The house has been an unwelcome mat for the farm since 1997 when the state Department of Transportation and the Island County Historical Society agreed to save it from demolition in a highway widening project. Since no one knew what to do with it, the department obtained right-of-way from the farm's previous owner and parked the house there temporarily. The state money that was originally set aside to permanently locate the house has since dried up and the now publicly-owned farm has neither the money nor the resources to do anything with it.Last October, the management group told the Historical Society to remove the house by April. The group reluctantly extended the deadline to mid-June when it became apparent that no good offers were coming forward.Because the house has historic value, group members said they would prefer that it go to a nonprofit organization that could do the necessary repairs and open it to the public at certain times of the year.Representatives of the Au Sable Institute, which recently purchased the Smith Prairie game farm property in Central Whidbey, came and looked at the house but decided they did not have money in their current budget to move it.Teutsch said he also asked South Whidbey Tilth if they wanted the house, but they declined. He said farm managers are not interested in proposals to fix up the house where it stands.The decision's already been made. We want it off the property, he said.Only about 100,000 kit homes were sold by Sears and Roebuck nationwide between 1908 and 1940, and very few still exist. Suggestions that the house be used for firefighting training have been rejected by fire district officials who don't want to be accused of burning down a historic structure."

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