Field School to preserve structure on Ebey’s Reserve

The public has an opportunity to help preserve a bit of Central Whidbey history this summer.

The Ebey’s Reserve Preservation Field School will celebrate its 10th year by working on the Pratt equipment shed July 31 through Aug. 4.

The shed is part of a larger preservation project the Reserve and National Park Service are working on with historic Pratt family structures.

The equipment shed was a smaller structure used for storage near one of the Pratt sheep barns. There are two identical sheep barns. Most people familiar with the area are aware of the one out near the edge of Ebey’s Bluff, but there is a second one further into the prairie located on the Pratt Loop trail. Both barns and the equipment shed were built in the mid-1930s and were likely built by the same person.

According to oral histories, Ebey’s Preservation Coordinator Sarah Steen said the Pratts would move the sheep between the two barns depending on the time of year and weather.

The Reserve is currently working on restoring the second barn to turn it into a center for public education.

“The idea is to partner with schools to provide a cool immersible space for kids to learn the history of the area,” Steen said.

The equipment shed will be used for storage to support the new outdoor classroom.

During the Field School, volunteers can come each day and learn framing techniques and other basic preservation skills as they work to stabilize walls and prepare the shed for a new roof.

Steen is particularly fond of preserving outbuildings, as they’re usually ignored and left in ruins like the equipment shed, which after being neglected over the years and left to the elements, has a collapsed roof and only three walls.

The field school is broken into two sessions each day running 8 a.m. to noon and then 1-5 p.m. Volunteers can sign up for a session ahead of time or just show up. There will be tasks for varying skill levels, and some volunteers may be asked to help out with work at the sheep barn as well.

Steen also plans to have some educational lectures focusing on Pratt family history during the lunch hour break.

Frank Pratt Jr. bought much of the land along the bluff in 1929 with the intention of seeing historically significant structures on the properties preserved. The Ferry House and Jacob and Sarah Ebey House, now owned by the National Park Service, were among the purchases of Pratt Jr., who died in 1939.

“They’re the reason we have much of what we have,” Steen said. “We have so many different eras, sometimes we forget about the later ones.”

For more information about the Field School, contact Steen at 360-678-6084 or sarah_steen@part ner.nps.gov

Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times Ebey’s Reserve Preservation Coordinator Sarah Steen describes the work to be done on the Pratt equipment shed during the Preservation Field School.

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