01/15/2012: "Thank You Letter: Brann Cabin"
Eight years ago, (during the 2003 school year), the third grade classes of Friday Harbor Elementary School, under the direction of Mrs. Sjoholm, Mrs. Clark and Mrs. Harley, created art
cards with drawings of some of the historic buildings on the island and made them available for purchase. They did this as a fundraising effort with a goal toward repairing the Brann Cabin, located in San Juan County Park near Smallpox Bay. ( Related Story )
This last year, (2011), the work which began with those third graders, combined with other donations and grant allotments, along with the efforts of Ed Bailey and the Veterans Conservation Corp, has accomplished the first phase of the Brann Cabin preservation plan (Stabilization).
The walls have been straightened and realigned, a new foundation along with a new roof have been installed. The cabin represents and reflects a time on the island during the homesteading era. Mr. Brann, a Civil War Veteran on the side of the Union fought at Gettysburg. He moved from his home in Maine in the late 1890’s when he was about 60 years of age and settled on land now owned by your County Park system.
The next phase in the preservation plan, (Restoration), is to install doors, windows and other interior features in an effort to re-create the feeling Mr. Brann would have experienced during his days “proving up” his land claim. Should any of you long time residents have any photographs or stories or information pertaining to the Time period of 1900 - 1930 as it relates to the area around Smallpox Bay (or Brann’s Bay as it was once called), it would be most helpful in accurately portraying its history.
Combined with the restoration work will be the development of a Rehabilitation plan which is currently evolving. Once the building is made sound and weather tight, useful purpose(s) are being considered which would provide public benefit and generate a little revenue to help with its ongoing maintenance needs. (If you have any ideas along those lines, please contact the Parks department).
Preserving the historical character of the island imparts a great value to the feeling one encounters during a visit here. In town there are buildings which have been rehabilitated to
provide continued use while retaining a sense of settled stability. Outside of town, the old barns and old homestead cabins hewn from logs continue to reinforce that impression. Those who live here seem to care about their surroundings and make an effort to safeguard the features which visitors, like me, find so refreshing.
Maintaining and protecting the American and British encampments, the early industrial lime producing complexes, the early rural homesteads and township buildings are invaluable
windows into our shared and collective history.
I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked on the cabin at the Park overlooking the water, and to have experienced the calm that seems to permeate the land.
David C. Rogers
[Mr. Rogers did the restoration work on the Brann cabin -Ed]