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Historic farmhouse on Navy base may be demolished By RON NEWBERRY

The thought of her greatgreat grandfather’s farmhouse being reduced to rubble and memories is difficult for Kathy Lunsford. The home, built around 1900 by Henry Riksen, is one of nine historic farmhouses at Ault Field at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The Navy is planning to tear it down. Lunsford and other Riksen descendants were notified of the plan in a letter dated Dec. 29 following a lengthy review of what to do with the structures. She and her relatives had hoped the farmhouse that was once part of a prosperous 135-acre farm held enough historic meaning to Oak Harbor that it could have been saved. They see the house as a standing reminder and symbol of sacrifices made by Riksen and the other Dutch farmers who were forced to sell their Clover Valley farms in the early 1940s and relocate to make way for the Navy base and runways that now rest at Ault Field. But, by nature of a letter and memorandum of agree-

Photo Provided by Peggy Darst Townsdin

This photo shows the historic Riksen home in the 1930s. ment she received from the Navy, Lunsford sees only a grim fate in store for the Riksen farmhouse. “When I looked at it, I realized they plan on tearing it down,” Lunsford said. “The option they gave us was kind of ‘Move it or lose it.’ “It’s just a shame.” The Riksen farmhouse, with its two barns, was originally identified as the most promising candidate of nine aging farmhouses on fed-

eral property to consider preserving when the review process began in 2014. Most of the other structures were moved from their original locations, some more than once. The Navy used the remodeled homes as military housing for more than 70 years, but that practice has been phased out. Some of the barns, however, remain in use for storage and other purposes. The homes were owned


and managed by Forest City Enterprises Inc., which was leasing the land. Forest City sold its entire military-housing portfolio to Hunt Company Inc., in November. According to the MOA, the Navy is looking to save one of the houses as a functional representative example of the historic farmhouse in Clover Valley, but not the house that was part of the Riksen farm. The farmhouse that the

Navy is planning to retain is Building 2885 or Quarters K, which will remain a residence in service, the document stated. All nine of the farmhouses at Ault Field were found to meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, the Navy learned through its evaluation process with the Washington State Historic Preservation Office. The MOA states that the Navy acknowledges that the demolition of the other eight farmhouses may have an “adverse effect” on those properties’ eligibility for such historic designation. “During Section 106 consultation with the Washington State Historic Preservation Office, as guided by the National Historic Preservation Act, the Navy evaluated nine farmhouses on Ault Field and all nine were determined eligible for listing in the National Listing of Historic Places,” NAS Whidbey spokesperson Tony Popp wrote in an email. “The Navy also found there to be an adverse effect to the eight farmhouses being proposed for

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demolition. To mitigate the adverse effect, the Navy is developing a memorandum of agreement in consultation with the Washington SHPO and descendants of the Risken family, who once owned one of the farmhouses.” Since the Navy is still in the consultation process, and a public comment period has yet to take place, a timeline for demolition has yet to be determined, Popp added. “These farmhouses have served our Navy families for 73 years,” Popp said, “and NAS Whidbey Island takes pride in its history and wants to preserve those memories.” Kathy Lunsford was emailed a copy of the letter written by Capt. Michael Nortier, commanding officer of NAS Whidbey, inviting her to comment on the attached memorandum of agreement. She said she and her relatives were given up to 45 days to respond to the Navy’s plan. They also were given the option to relocate the house, a project relatives figure would be too costly. SEE HOUSE, PAGE 3

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Xtra!CALENDAR Wednesday Feb. 3

Ready Readers: Baby and Me Storytime, 9:3010:15 a.m., Feb. 3 at Oak Harbor Library. Wiggle and giggle with your baby through silly stories, happy songs, rhymes and activities that inspire a love of reading. Playtime follows. For newborns through 24 months. Caregiver required. 360675-5115.

Wednesday Night with the Stars: “Leap Year,” 5:30-7:15 p.m., Feb. 3 at Coupeville Library. This romantic comedy follows one woman’s determined quest to get married to the perfect guy… despite what fate has in store for her. When the fourth year passes without a marriage proposal, Anna decides to take matters into her own hands. Investing in an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Feb. 29, Anna decides to follow

her boyfriend, Jeremy, to Dublin and get down on one knee herself. Rated PG. Runtime 100 minutes. Popcorn provided by Friends of the Coupeville Library.

Thursday Feb. 4

House of Hope NarAnon Meeting, 7-8 p.m., every Thursday beginning Jan. 7 at Oak Harbor Lutheran Church, 1253

Sw e

Special t r a ! e h et Get an additional month FREE!

5TH ANNUAL RED DRESS BALL: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Feb. 6 at Dancing Fish Farm, 1953 Newman Road, Freeland. Soroptimist International of South Whidbey Island with the participation of the SI Coupeville and SI Oak Harbor clubs. $50 per person, contact Karen Carbone at or 360-632-8040.

NW 2nd St., Oak Harbor. The Nar-Anon Family Groups are a worldwide fellowship for those affected by someone else’s addiction. All that is required for membership is that there be a problem of addiction with a relative or friend. Ready Readers: Preschool Storytime, 10:30-11:15 a.m., Feb. 4 at Oak Harbor Library. Let imaginations run wild with fun books, singalong songs, and creative activities that prepare young minds for the adventures of reading. Playtime or craft may follow. 360-675-5115. Coupeville Garden Club meeting, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Feb. 4, Coupeville Rec Hall. Refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m. with a meeting to follow at 10 a.m. Speaker Marcia Nelson, Master Gardener, will speak about beneficial bugs. Contact Nancy Lane at nhlane1956@ or 360-6786914 for more information

Friday Feb. 5










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P. O. Box 1200 • Coupeville, WA 98239 • 1-360-675-6611 • Please fill out and send to Circulation Division address shown or bring to our business offices in Oak Harbor or Coupeville. On island non-mailed delivery only. Cannot be combined with any other offers. Offer good through 2-29-16. No Cash Value

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 • WhidbeyXtra!

“Moon Over Buffalo,” runs Feb. 5-21 at Whidbey Playhouse in Oak Harbor. Charlotte and George Hay have a repertory consisting of Cyrano de Bergerac “revised, one nostril version” and Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.” Fate has given these thespians one more shot at starring roles in a “Scarlet Pimpernel” epic. Director Frank Capra himself is in route to Buffalo to catch their matinee performance. Will Charlotte appear or run off with their lawyer? Will George be sober

enough to emote? Will Capra see Cyrano, “Private Lives” or a disturbing mixture of the two? Hilarious misunderstanding pile on madcap misadventures in Ken Ludwig’s valentine to Theater Hams everywhere. Sundays are a matinee from 2:30-5 p.m. www.whidbeyplayhouse. com

Saturday Feb. 6

Red Wine and Chocolate Tour. www.

Monday Feb. 8

Ready Readers: Toddler Storytime, 9:3010:30 a.m., Feb. 8 at Oak Harbor Library. Jump and bounce into a magical world of stories, music, and movements that nurture the desire to read in toddlers. Playtime or craft may follow. For ages 2 to 3 years. Caregiver required. AARP Tax Aide, 1-7:30 p.m., Feb. 8 at the Oak Harbor Library. Free tax return preparation and e-filing for taxpayers with low to moderate income, especially those age 60 and older. Call 360-6783000 to schedule an appointment. Supported by AARP Foundation. Western Red Cedar: the Tree of Life, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Feb. 8 at Coupeville Library. Join Steve and Martha Ellis of Whidbey Audubon Society for this new program. Funded by Friends of the Coupeville Library.

Tuesday Feb. 9

Seattle Opera Preview: “Mary Stuart,” 2-3 p.m., Feb. 9 at the Coupeville Library. Join Seattle Opera’s Nick Malinowski for an hourlong introduction to the music, history and stagecraft of Seattle Opera’s upcoming production “Mary Stuart.” Supported by Friends of the Coupeville Library.

Wednesday Feb. 10

Suicide Grief Support Group meeting, 6 p.m., Feb. 10, at Hospice of Whidbey General. This is a time for individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide to meet with others and learn coping strategies and methods of moving forward through grief and other feelings. Register by contacting or 360-321-1372. Ready Readers: Baby and Me Storytime, 9:3010:15 a.m., Feb. 10 at Oak Harbor Library. Wiggle and giggle with your baby through silly stories, happy songs, rhymes, and activities that inspire a love of reading. For newborns through 24 months. 360-675-5115.

Thursday Feb. 11

House of Hope NarAnon Meeting, 7-8 p.m., every Thursday at Oak Harbor Lutheran Church, 1253 NW 2nd St., Oak Harbor. karol@whidbey. com

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 • WhidbeyXtra!


CONTINUED FROM 1 Lunsford said she would have to give up her Christmas tree farm in Quilcene to do so, not realizing the irony of that statement. Henry Riksen was among a group of Hollanders who arrived at San de Fuca on the steamer Fairhaven in 1895 and ultimately settled in the rich farmland at Clover Valley. In total, 18

Dutch families arrived that year and by 1897, about 200 resided on farms in the valley. The family tree that sprung from Henry and Jane Riksen is extensive, with several relatives still living on the island, Lunsford said. “The Heller family is still there,” she said. “A Riksen daughter married a Heller. They had 10 children.” Many farmers prospered in the Clover Valley, which was named for the endless


fields of clover that farmers grew for their cows to eat. As World War II was breaking out and the Navy was looking for a new base for naval aircraft, that valley was found to be an ideal location for runways, prompting farmers to give up their land and livelihoods to make room for the base. Riksen received $25,000 for his property. His was one of about 70 farms that were uprooted. “It’s terrible,” said Karen Griffin, great-great niece

to Henry Riksen. “It just makes me cry to think that there will be no reminders of what those farmers gave up. Good grief. They are keeping the barn that belonged to the Riksens. You would think that they could at least keep the house that belonged to them as a reminder of those farmers who slaved their lives away to make themselves a retirement and heritage that they could pass on. They had to give all that up. “They did it out of honor


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LANDSCAPING SERVICES Mailliard’s Landing Nursery 3068 N. Oak Harbor Rd, Oak Harbor 360-679-8544

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for our land and being good citizens. There’s never a good word about it. It makes me really sad.” The Riksen descendents had hoped that the PBYNaval Air Museum might find interest in the home or spacious round-top barn to hold aircraft. Wil Shellenberger, president of the PBY-Naval Air Foundation, said he appreciated that consideration, but plans point toward a future site near a more visible, higher-traffic area near

Julie Kinnaird Broker, REALTOR®, SRES Windermere Real Estate/Whidbey Island 360-632-6619

State Highway 20. “I can understand why the Navy might decide to take them down,” said Rick Castellano, executive director of the Island County Historical Museum. “But it’s really sad because that’s seven (eight) more places of our historic inventory here in Island County that will be gone forever. “Every year, we see more and more. It’s disappointing.”

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Special Sections - WHIDBEY XTRA Feb 3 2016  


Special Sections - WHIDBEY XTRA Feb 3 2016