Restoration planned for historic building after vehicle collision and fire

A notice of application to restore the former Hingston Store was placed on the building this month.

Repairs and restoration work are being planned for a historic Penn Cove building that was hit by two different trucks within two months last year.

A notice of application to restore the former Hingston Store, which has housed Penn Cove Pottery for two decades, was placed on the building earlier this month.

The building has been closed since June 2022, when 53-year-old Ranbir Singhnahal failed to maneuver a curve in the road and crashed the semi truck he was driving into it. The truck tipped over and caught fire, destroying a significant portion of the building.

Just two months previously, in April 2022, a truck driver veered off Highway 20 and drove into the adjacent wooden portion of the building.

The building is listed in the National Register of historic places and has historic value for its association with commercial enterprises which established a stable economic foundation for early European-American settlers in the area.

The original wooden structure on the east side was built in 1905 and served as a country store and post office. The brick building that now houses the pottery gallery was added on to expand the store around 1940.

In 1945, it was purchased by the Trumbull family, who operated the store until the mid-1950s. The building has changed hands and housed a variety of businesses since then and was purchased in 2001 by current owners Steve and Mary Beth Eelkema. The building was awarded Ebey’s Forever grants in 2013 and 2019 to replace the roof, repoint the brick of the exterior masonry walls and repair the brick chimney.

Because of the building’s historical significance, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve has been advocating since the collisions last spring for the restoration of the historic landmark.

Reserve Manager Marie Shimada said it’s wonderful that the owners want to restore the building.

“To be honest and fair, the best route forward is to repair the historic building, which has always been our preferred decision,” she wrote in an email. “Trying to change the site plan into other uses would trigger myriad codes and laws from both state and local authorities, so there was never a clear alternative for the landowner.”