(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
THE AGENCY CABIN GETS NEW LIFE: Important preservation step taken by historical society…
Surprisingly, Chewelah is an old town by West Coast standards, and community members are currently working hard to preserve some of that history.
For the past two weekends, work has been done on the historic Colville Indian Agency Cabin and McPherson Family Home on 3rd St. to continue restoration. Windows, floors, a door and the porch were installed on the building which dates back to at least the 1870s.
“We can declare victory on preserving the Agency Cabin,” one of the projects leaders, Janet Thomas said. According to the Stevens County Historical Society, the Indian Agency services were provided starting around 1878. Services included medical care, agricultural training and materials and tools. The cabin was home to John A Simms and his wife Lucy and then became the McPherson’s family home that they owned for over 100 years before donating the cabin to the Stevens County Historical Society in 2010.
About 10-15 volunteers worked on the cabin on June 22/23rd and June 29/30 with at least one or two people at the cabin during the week working away.
While there is still a lot more to do, the preservation requirements of the grant that has been received has been completed. This helps make it less susceptible to decay. The plan for the full project is to turn it into a small museum and lecture area. Organizers are hoping to have it bring together native and non-native people as an interpretive center for Native American Studies.
Don McLaughlin and Janet Thomas initially spearheaded the effort, but Charlie Bourg has increased his involvement since McLaughlin’s passing.
Also helping with the restoration work was Tony Harmon, Barb Harmon, Richard Willner, Gary Thomas, Debi Brinson, Steven Bourg, Jann Bodie, Rich Johnson, Sandy Johnson and Melissa Silvio.
The Spokane Tribe and Kalispel Tribe donated as well by performing archaeological surveys of the site. Hansen Logging and Wuesthoff Excavation donated labor and materials important to the restoration as well.During work the past two weekends, Sety’s Ace Hardware, Westside Pizza, Safeway, Monica’s Buttermilk Kitchen, Rozy’z Hot Shotz and Dad’s Espresso, all donated items for the volunteers working on this project as well.
The Stevens County Historical Society is planning “The Agency Open House and Preservation” Celebration on Saturday, July 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. during Chataqua so come on down and see all the hard work that has been done. They will also continue to work on telling the story of the Agency in the future.