The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation announced its annual list of Most Endangered Historic Properties in the State of Washington on Wednesday, May 15 at the opening reception of the RevitalizeWA conference in Vancouver.
Included in the 2013 List is the Colville Indian Agency in Chewelah, also known as the Dr. McPherson Cabin. In the 1860s, Major John Sims, Acting Indian Agent, oversaw the construction of a log cabin to serve as the Colville Indian Agency. The cabin maintained this role until 1885, when Agency operations were relocated to Fort Spokane. Sims and his wife, Lucy, continued to live in the cabin, staying on to homestead the site. In 1902, Dr. S.P. McPherson purchased the cabin as his personal residence. With the addition of a granary and other rooms, the cabin continued to meet the needs of the family, with the last descendants remaining until 2010. Concerned about the long-term stewardship of the cabin, the family donated the property to the Stevens County Historical Society. With the goal of using the cabin to interpret the Indian Agency period, the SCHS has worked to clean out the cabin and make needed repairs. Plans are also underway to work with both the Spokane and Kalispell Tribes to conduct archaeological investigations of the site. But with the discovery of additional deterioration, the main focus has become preserving the structure. While the SCHS has been successful in securing grant funds to address electrical issues, more funding is needed to assist with replacement of the cabin’s sill logs and foundation. Providing a testimonial to the cabin’s significance, the Historic American Building Survey program documented the resource in the 1930s. The cabin is one of a very few historic resources in the state documented in this early period as part of the Works Progress Administration program.
The little cabin has served its residents and its community well and has become very well loved by the people in the surrounding area, in spite of it being privately held and not available for visiting or viewing.
There is a dream that Indians and non-Indians will again gather on the site and share and learn one with another as it was in the beginning.
To make this dream come true it is time for everyone who loves the little cabin to give back to it. The years, over 130 of them, have taken its toll and so have the elements. In order to stand another 130-plus years into the future restoration and preservation must take place. The grounds have been cleared and preliminary preservation/restoration work is underway, sadly revealing more damage than expected and unknown at the time it was gifted.
Cost of the Dream: An infusion of about $80,000 is needed for replacement of the sill logs, a foundation, the roof, a floor and other items allowing the public to have access. Without the sill, foundation and roof repairs, the cabin will not survive. Once restored, people will again gather there in friendship and good will and for learning and study of the past.
Where to find the cabin: It is located at 309 N. 3rd Street E. in Chewelah. It is under the stewardship of the Stevens County Historical Society and local supporters of the cabin. SCHS can be contacted at email@example.com. Mail can be delivered to PO Box 25, Colville, WA 99114; phone 509-684-5968.
The remaining historic properties being named to the 2013 Most Endangered List are described as follows:
The Haller House, Whidbey Island
Electric Building, Aberdeen
The Digester Building, Bellingham
St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Gig Harbor
Mukai House and Garden, Vashon Island
Battelle/Talaris Campus, Seattle
Since 1992, the independent, nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has used its Most Endangered Historic Properties List to bring attention to over 100 threatened sites nominated by concerned citizens and organizations across the state. The Washington Trust assists advocates for these resources in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats, taking advantage of opportunities where they exist, and finding positive preservation solutions for listed resources.
In This Photo: The The front of the Colville Indian Agency Cabin in Chewelah.