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Whidbey Island's Historic 1855 Haller House Needs Help

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Have a spare half million to save some Civil War and Washington history?

Finding old houses in Seattle isn't easy. Finding ones that date back to 1855 is about as tough as it gets. Finding ones that were pivotal to the area's development, the nation's history, and that sit on prime real estate rapidly reduces to a short list. Haller House in Coupeville is on that list, and it needs a bit of help - now.

Every beautiful old building in Seattle is the result of people caring for the place. Our housing booms usually mean eventually paving over history to make way for more modern living spaces and lifestyles. By definition, that short list of important homes can't get longer.

For decades Haller House has traded owners, so for many it was just another house. But, lasting this long is worth celebrating. It gets added importance, though, because of its namesake: Haller, as in Colonel Granville Haller, the man that William Dietrich calls, "the Forrest Gump of Washington state, a man who repeatedly collides with history." East coast historians may know him better for his actions and misfortunes around Gettysburg. Local historians are probably also aware of his involvement in Fort Townsend, conflicts with the tribes, and participation in the "Pig War". (And if you haven't heard about the very real and very odd Pig War with Britain, get up to San Juan Island.)

The house is easy to overlook on a trip to Coupeville. Other, more recent houses that are only a century old have already been renovated, painted, preserved, and updated to modern standards. In an entire town of such structures it is easy to skip past the ones that are weathered and waiting.

The fact that Haller House only needs a quarter million dollars, but preferably a half million, is remarkable but also an example of the rugged construction of some of the area's original houses. Vertical plank construction may not be common now, but then it was common to use inch thick boards for walls. It is also more likely that it was old-growth timber, meaning tighter grains and longer lasting wood. The proof is the fact that the building has survived 150 years of storms and quakes.

With rising house prices, a few hundred thousand is getting to be within the realm of some contemporary remodels, even without any history involved. Maybe ten folks can divert ten percent of their remodels and save an entire house. Of course, before providing that much money for a charitable cause or a home project, it makes sense to do a bit more research - an excellent excuse or rationalization for visiting Coupeville.

· Can a Civil War soldier’s 150-year-old house on Whidbey Island be saved? [ST]
· Haller House [HW]
· Historic Whidbey [HW]
Images: Historic American Building Survey