Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Pickering Barn, Then and Now

One of my favorite places in Issaquah is the Pickering Barn. When I first moved to Issaquah in 1987 the barn sat alone on a huge, empty field. The exterior was weathered to a silvery grey, and the whole structure looked tired and in sore need of attention. Over the years, I watched the barn change from it's sad, lonely, dilapidated state to it's current state of total renovation. 

"Pickering Barn, Issaquah",  11x14 watercolor with pen & ink

Along with the renovation, the Pickering Barn acquired some new neighbors. The Costco headquarters and warehouse sit directly across the street now. The barn is often accompanied by heavy traffic driving past it to and from Costco and the surrounding Pickering Place shopping center. Sometimes, as I drive by the barn on a busy Saturday, I think back to how different it looked when I first saw it. I often wonder if this old barn feels better with it's makeover, fresh red paint and frequent visitors. I also wonder if it misses the old days, how things used to be when it was a working farm with lots of elbow room and solitude.

The Pickering Barn has a story to tell, but not many people who drive past it know about it. Some may even think that it's a newly built barn placed there to look charming, next to Costco. I have painted this barn twice (on paper that is, not on the actual barn) but wish that I had taken a picture of it way back when it was in it's "before" state. I would have loved to paint a portrait of it as it looked before the stores and crowds came.

"By the Barn's Early Light", 11x14 watercolor and pastel

Would you like to know this barn's story? Here's a very brief history of the Pickering Barn. Originally built in the 1800’s by territorial governor, William Pickering, it was one of the largest dairy farms in the area for many years. The barn and its surroundings were maintained by the Pickering family for agricultural purposes until most of the property was sold to investors in 1975. The Pickering property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and donated to the City of Issaquah in 1993. In the mid-1990’s, the barn underwent a major renovation with most of the original woodwork being retained for reuse in the barn structure. Isn't that interesting? 

If you live in the area and have not been to the Pickering Barn, I highly recommend you visit! There is a wonderful farmer's market there every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm. There is a small garden that overflows with flowers in the summer. The painting above is the view from that garden. Go take a look for yourself sometime, walk around the grounds and try to imagine how the area looked when the Pickering Barn was the largest building for miles around. It's fortunate that we have this piece of Issaquah history in our midst. There are more historic buildings in Issaquah to tell you about, but I guess that's a blog for another day.