Ebey’s Landing Ferry House welcomes guests to ‘Summer Picnic on the Prairie’ benefit

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Have you ever stood on the bluff trail above Ebey’s Landing, gazed across the prairie at the lone Ferry House and wondered, “What’s it like in there?”

Here’s your chance to tour one of Washington State’s oldest residential buildings, and support programs that enrich the future of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

Locals and visitors alike are invited to attend the “Summer Picnic on the Prairie” from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug 17, to benefit programs of the Reserve. Enjoy a Whidbey Island-grown dinner, readings of original journals from early settlers, live music, raffles and a rare opportunity to tour the historic Ferry House and other National Register properties within the Reserve.

The event marks the debut of Friends of Ebey’s, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to raising philanthropic support for projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the cultural and natural resources and the visitor experience at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. This includes future support for the Ebey’s Forever Grant Program that provides annual matching grants to heritage property owners. Since its start in 2011, the grant program has awarded more than $200,000 to stabilize, rehabilitate and preserve 30 historic buildings within the Reserve. Proceeds from the picnic are matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor as part of a $75,000 challenge match.

The Ferry House at Ebey’s Landing, built in 1860 on the Donation Land Claim of Isaac Ebey after his death in 1857, served as an inn to the increasing traffic between Port Townsend (the port of entry to the Puget Sound) and Coupeville (the county seat of Island County). It housed a post office, tavern, rooms for overnight guests, and important rendezvous for mariners, whose vessels were anchored at Penn Cove, Oak Harbor, and Port Townsend.

The Ferry House at Ebey's Landing is one of the important historic landmarks in Coupeville. (Photo courtesy of Ebey's Forever Fund)

The Ferry House at Ebey’s Landing is one of the important historic landmarks in Coupeville. (Photo courtesy of Ebey’s Forever Fund)

In 2010, Ebey’s Reserve was awarded a grant as part of the Partners in Preservation program. The grant helped pay for a stabilization project that rebuilt the front porch and stabilized the building.  Ferry House is a lasting example of life during the early days of settlement in the Pacific Northwest, serving both as an invaluable educational resource and an unforgettable icon at Ebey’s Landing.

Tickets for the event are $75 and include food, music, raffle gifts and a tour of the historic Ferry House with your choice of self-guided tour starting at 4 p.m. (ideal for returning Ferry House guests); or docent-led tours starting at 5 p.m. (ideal for first-time visitors.) Guests will also enjoy a short production of “The Prairie Diaries,” readings from early pioneer journals curated by Lynn Hyde, education and outreach coordinator for Ebey’s Reserve.

A limited number of Golden Tickets are available for $200 per person or $350 per couple, and include private tours of three other National Register properties and Ebey’s Forever Grant projects. Historic preservation experts Harrison Goodall and Annie Matsov will lead this special tour from 3 to 5 p.m. then will join the picnic and other activities at the Ferry House. The event will end at 8 p.m.

Tickets are available for purchase at Brown Paper Tickets  or by calling 360-678-6084. You can also get tickets at bayleaf in Coupeville, Blooms Winery Taste for Wine at Bayview, or Wind & Tide Bookshop in Oak Harbor.

More information is online at Ebey’s Forever Fund site.

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