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South Whidbey historic buildings identified

The Reverend may not row to shore anymore, but members of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton have been able to preserve much of their early history while welcoming new traditions in the community.

The church is one of the latest recipients of a historical plaque, made possible by the South Whidbey Historical Society.

The historical markers project was set up to make it easier to identify and honor the rich history that these buildings represent. It’s a history that stretches back more than 100 years.

“The island was settled around the turn of the century,” said Bill Haroldson, historical society member. “Some of the buildings here reflect the history of the early settlers.”

The project is a collaboration of the South Whidbey Historical Society and Island County.

Norma Metcalf is heading up the endeavor. She and other historic marker committee members have developed criteria and identified 15 buildings in Island County to be classified as historic.

The historical society hopes that, in addition to the plaques, roadside markers will be put up to further ease the identification of these landmark buildings.

On South Whidbey, the Dog House in Langley, Freeland Community Hall, Greenbank Farm, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton, and the Deer Lagoon Grange at Bayview have been chosen to receive historical plaques.

St. Peter’s Church and the Deer Lagoon Grange are the latest buildings to receive their plaques.

On Sunday, Nov. 27, the congregation of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church installed their plaque at the building’s entrance.

“St. Peters has been a part of the growth, change and development of the island since the beginning of the 20th century,” said Rev. Mikkel Husted.

Scandinavian immigrants founded St. Peter’s in 1901. The church’s first pastor, Reverend Peder Isberg, also worked as a carpenter in Stanwood. On Sundays he rowed to Whidbey, landing at Brighton Beach.

Today, St Peter’s is served by Rev. Hustad with Linda Alexander, president of the congregation. 

Many of the present members of the church are descendents of those early founders.

“We have a number of families who are here that have been part of the congregation for a long time,” Husted said.

“It is very meaningful to think that they’re worshipping where their relatives were married, schooled and baptized,” he said. “That is a significant emotional connection for them.”

For St. Peter’s congregation, the installation of the plaque is more than just historical, it’s also motivational.

“While the plaque serves as a reminder to us, it also is kind of an encouragement and a challenge to us to continue to be connected to the community and resourceful to the needs of Clinton and South Whidbey,” Husted said.

The Deer Lagoon Grange put their historical plaque up on Dec. 13.

The Grange was incorporated on Dec 29, 1926. They are a member of the oldest farm-based fraternal organization in the country.

“We’re very proud of the history of the grange and the history of the building and of the organization,” said Deer Lagoon Grange Master Chuck Prochaska.

The National Grange organization was established in 1867. It now consists of 3,878 granges in 37 states with more than 300,000 members.

Every year Deer Lagoon Grange elects officers, who attend meetings, keep minutes and attend the state grange convention.

Deer Lagoon Grange members follow the guidelines of the national organization, and have kept a scrapbook since its founding.

The grange is also reaching out to community interests.

They have three state-of-the-art computers open to the public twice a week, rent out the hall for community events and are planning events such as chili and chowder cook-offs and card nights.

Deer Lagoon Grange strives to preserve the organizations history while keeping in touch with the community.

“We try to represent community interests, and we try to represent rural interests,” Prochaska said.

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