Historic home in Coupeville gets reprieve — for now

A nonprofit group working to save Coupeville’s Haller House on Front Street received good news last week when two events happened in time to allow the group to apply for a state grant to acquire the house.

Perhaps it’s fitting that the once grand home of a Civil War Army major isn’t going down without a fight.

A group working to save Coupeville’s Haller House got a double dose of good news last week to keep alive hopes that it can purchase the home, restore it and one day turn it into a heritage and visitor center to showcase Washington’s territorial period.

Historic Whidbey, a nonprofit working to acquire the 150-year-old house, didn’t raise the $250,000 it had hoped to reach by a May 19 deadline to be eligible to apply for a state grant, but a significant pledge by a donor and a sympathetic gesture by the homeowner kept the project from being defeated.

Historic Whidbey received a $20,000 pledge May 16 to push its fundraising total to $50,000, according to Lynn Hyde, the nonprofit’s president. That met the challenge of a Seattle donor who last month agreed to donate $50,000 if an equivalent sum could be raised elsewhere.

Still well shy of the sum it was required to raise in order to be eligible for a Washington State Heritage Capital Projects Fund grant, Historic Whidbey recently approached the McPherson family of Coupeville with a lower purchase offer. The McPhersons accepted, Hyde said.

The newly accepted price for the home was $265,000 — down from $375,000 — with the McPhersons still retaining the waterfront portion of the property on Front Street, Hyde said.

With enough cash and pledges in hand, Historic Whidbey met initial requirements to apply for a grant in which the state would pitch in one-third of the purchase price, Hyde said.

Historic Whidbey will need to come up with the rest of the money to account for the remaining two-thirds, but last week’s developments enabled the group to apply for the grant, build momentum and buy more time.

“It’s exciting news,” Hyde said. “I’m shell-shocked.”

And, by the end of the week, she was exhausted.

“I haven’t had much sleep,” Hyde said. “The state grant is a beast of an application.”

There are still plenty of uncertainties and potential barriers, Hyde admitted. The grant must still be approved and funding could take more than a year to arrive.

That means fundraising efforts will continue.

“The good news is, ‘We’re not dead,’” Hyde said.