News

Cabin breaking ground, again

At 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2, in Camp Yeomalt Park, island folk of all ages will gather for ground breaking ceremonies, fun and surprises to help kick-off the project to restore historic Camp Major Hopkins-Yeomalt Cabin.

The National Historic Registered cabin was built from local trees and field stone by island craftsmen of the federal, Depression-era, Works Progress Administration in 1935.

It was built as an ideal troop cabin for local Boy and Girl Scouts. It was inspired by (and its historical name was for) Major Maurice J. Hopkins, founder of Island Scouting in 1922, community leader and US Army Corps of Engineer geologist who helped site Grand Coulee and other dams.

Hopkins was an American, raised in Europe, who attended England’s Charterhouse School, a generation after Lord Baden Powell, founder of world Scouting. The cabin’s architect was English-born Percy Horrocks. Both Hopkins and Horrocks resided near Rolling Bay circa 1920-1945.

Following Sunday’s ceremonies, Team Yeomalt members will offer tours to the resident eagle nest, films, exhibits and hot cider. They also invite the public to try out their new, pedal-powered, traditional grindstone. Guests are encouraged to bring an old tool that needs sharpening, singing voices, kazoos or jug band instruments to accompany local folk artists in some campfire singing.

Former Island Scout and Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro will be on hand and suggests that former Scouts wear their uniforms, too.

Several Scout alumni will join others in helping to break ground after other guests assist in painting the fund raising progress thermometer close to the top.

In the winter of 2005-2006, following a prayer of thanks for the trees, traditional craftsman David Ullin taught Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Mayor Darlene Kordonowy how to fall a tree using ax and hand saw.

“The Mayor really was in tune with the saw,” Ullin proclaimed.

Eighteen trees, donated by the late-Rose Christie, yielded more than enough logs to restore the cabin. Jerry Harpole brought a team of horses from Port Townsend to carefully remove the logs from the forest. Bob Cederwall transported them to Yeomalt Park.

While some onlookers suggested that it would take months to peel the logs, islanders came out for the wood work in droves.

Despite winter chills, they kept warm through their labors and had the logs de-barked in three weeks.

Parks enthusiast and former board candidate Richard Labotz, declared, “Team Yeomalt’s motto is ‘The Team that sweats together, sticks together!’”

With similar zeal, funds were raised, plans were drawn and, as logs dried for a necessary season, cedar and roofing shakes were acquired.

The building permit issuance is imminent and following Sunday’s symbolic project kick-off, actual construction work will begin in January.

The initial work will be done mostly by professionals with experience in house raising and log-cabin building.

Team Yeomalt’s construction committee includes historic preservation carpenter Mike Brundige, log cabin specialist and historic preservationist Sandra Burke, architect Tom Swolgaard and park staff’s project manager Roger Bellieu.

In a few months, volunteers will be sought to assist rebuilding the hall’s stage, rustic fixtures and furnishings.

“Pre-construction is coming together pretty rapidly,” Park Director Tom Swolgaard reports. “Roger Bellieu is doing a great job of getting the project set-up and ready to start.

“The groundbreaking will be a ‘big deal’ and we will soon be under way! This is exciting!”

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Log in

The Camp Yeomalt cabin is at 900 Park Avenue, east of Winslow. To get involved, call 842-4164.

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