Historic barn on the move

04/17/17 UPDATE:

COLLEGE PLACE, WA - A few weeks ago we told you about the Poor Farm Barn in College Place that will be getting a new home. Reporter Kristina Shalhoup went back out to the barn today to see what kind of progress the guys deconstructing it have made.

So far, the second story floor is gone, as well as most of the roof and multiple side walls. The last time Kristina Shalhoup spoke with Nicely and his team, he referred to the barn as a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, but as she learned today, a bigger part of the puzzle has also been solved. The barn will move onto land belonging to the Corliss family, which owns a number of local wineries.

In hopes of getting the barn ready to go to its new home as quickly as possible, the team has organized each piece of it meticulously as it comes apart.

"Every piece has a number on it, the metal all has numbers put on it with markers," said Richard Nicely with Pillars of Society Woodworks, LLC. "All the boards have little metal tacks with identification tags. So, we know where every piece goes."

If things run as smoothly as they have been, Nicely thinks the barn will be fully dismantled within the next two weeks. Nicely thinks putting it up will be much easier than taking it down was. He's hoping it'll only take another two weeks on top of that to reconstruct it on the Corliss Estates' property.


COLLEGE PLACE, WA - Washington has been a state for nearly 130 years now, and the subject of this story is nearly as old as the state it resides in. But the question is, will it be staying in Washington for long? 

Reporter Kristina Shalhoup learned that the poor farm barn on the Country Estate's property has stood there for over 120 years.  But now, it's coming apart board by board, nail by nail, but it's not getting torn down. It's actually just moving.

"We are not barn wreckers, we are preservers of history," said Rick Nicely with Pillars of Society Woodworks LLC. "We're doing a preservation project to keep this thing alive."

That's the first thing that Nicely wants to make known after local Washingtonians heard the rumor that they were tearing down a piece of the state's history.

"We're meticulously dismantling every single board, we have every single nail," Nicely said.

All those boards and all those nails make up the "Poor Farm Barn", which sits on the Country Estate's property in College Place.

"Before social security came to fruition in this country, poor farms were scattered throughout the United States in each county," said David Middleton with Pillars Of Society Woodworks LLC, "and that's where the indigent would go to live and work and survive."

As for the barn, it's survived for 125 years.

"Now, it'll likely stand another 125 years," Nicely said.

That's the goal at least, for Pillars Of Society Woodworks, a company working to preserve historical structures. And when the Country Estate's property owners said they needed the barn to go, Nicely and his crew were quick to jump on the opportunity.

"They said, 'we have this old structure. We know you guys deal with antiquities and old wood. Can you come down and take a look at this barn?'" 

After taking that look, they bought the barn...and in the process of deconstructing it, they've found more than they bargained for.

While the barn itself and everything it's made of is already a piece of history, these guys keep finding little treasures and trinkets that tell their own historical stories.

"We did find a large tooth, like from a horse. A giant molar," said Nicely. "Probably was a terrible pain from the horse."

And that's not all.

"I took off a piece of the wall, and brushing things off and there it was sitting there in the joint underneath a bunch of little hay," said Beau Sabin with Pillars Of Society Woodworks as he describes a concho, a small disk used for decoration on scarves, belts, and horse's reigns. He and Nicely think that this one might just date all the way back to the Spanish-American war.

"Interesting stuff, and hopefully we find a bunch more," Sabin said.

And as it turns out, when you have this interesting stuff in one place, everybody wants a piece. When Pillars Of Society announced their quest to move the old barn, they started getting offers to rebuild it from all over the country.

"Texas, Connecticut, Hawaii, California..."

But just this week, a call from a local family helped them finally decide on the barn's new home.

"It will be staying local in the Walla Walla community," Nicely confirmed.

And while they haven't disclosed the exact location, Nicely assured that the barn would be handled with care.

"This thing is like the 5000-pieced jigsaw puzzle, and we're going to keep it all as one set."

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