In 2012, Historic Seattle acknowledged the White River Valley Museum and the City of Auburn with its “Best Restoration Project” Award for their exemplary restoration of the Mary Olson Farm, King County’s best-preserved historic farmstead.
Located on the east bank of the Green River in Auburn, the farm was named for a pioneer woman who arrived from Sweden in 1882. It was bequeathed to her children when Mary died in 1938, and remained in the family until 1971. By the time the City of Auburn purchased the remaining 60 acres of the property in 1994, the farmstead was vacant and in deteriorated condition. The property encompasses an 1897 hay barn and a 1902 farmhouse. Several outbuildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries also survive, including a weaving house, smokehouse, garage/ice house, and chicken coop.
City leaders’ foresight in purchasing the farmstead saved the property from demolition and development. The multi-phase restoration project was led by the museum under the guidance of its director, Patricia Cosgrove, who will share the challenges of restoring this property type—from fundraising efforts to restoration approaches of the various structures and surrounding landscape. As a model of best preservation practice, the project followed a master plan (which received a 2002 SHPO Award for Excellence in Preservation Planning) prepared by BOLA Architecture + Planning. BOLA continued as project architect, providing that expertise. Using a $1.64 million budget, which came from city support, private donations and grants, project partners succeeded at fully restoring the barn and farmhouse, as well as a century-old orchard, three salmon runs, and a collection of outbuildings. The Mary Olson Farm is a King County Landmark and National Register of Historic Places-listed site. It opened for the first time to the general public in the summer of 2011, operating as a living history and environmental learning site.
Limited availability. Please call (206) 622-6952, ext. 221 to register for this program.