SEQUIM — The future looks bright for preserving Sequim’s past.
Officials with the Sequim Museum, formerly known as the Museum and Arts Center, said the sale of three donated properties has provided the start of a fund for a new exhibit building next to the DeWitt Administration Center, 544 N. Sequim Ave.
“We’re excited to be moving forward,” said Executive Director Judy Reandeau Stipe.
The new building would be the final phase of bringing the administration and exhibit buildings closer to one another, museum volunteers said.
Museum treasurer Louie Rychlik, the building’s project manager, said the tentative date for construction would be early July, depending on permitting from the city of Sequim.
Museum officials plan to list the current exhibit building and former Sequim Post Office on Cedar Street for sale in the next 60 days.
Reandeau Stipe said those funds would go to the new building and maintenance at the Dungeness Schoolhouse.
Funding came together thanks to land endowments from West End pioneer John Cowan and his wife Inez, which included two timber properties on Lake Ozette Road and off state Highway 112, and a home in Port Angeles.
Friends and West End historians say Cowan felt history was important and should be preserved.
Cowan died in 2000 and, following Inez Cowan’s death in 2015, the properties went up for sale in October. The two timber properties sold in December and the home last month.
Reandeau Stipe, who arranged the sales, donated her commission to the Sequim Museum. The net proceeds were split between the Sequim Museum and Forks Timber Museum.
Cowan lived on the Cowan Ranch next to the Hoko and Little Hoko rivers on Lake Ozette Road until his death.
Reandeau Stipe lived on Hoko Camp by the Cowan Ranch because her father, Ray Reandeau, was a logger.
“I am so proud that I had the privilege to put together these real estate sales and donate my entire commission to the museum,” she said.
She said the Cowan family hasn’t disclosed the amount of the sales publicly and museum officials chose to honor that.
Rychlik said the property sales put the Sequim Museum at about 75 percent of the funds they need.
Forks Timber Museum manager Linda Offutt said there are no plans for capital improvements following the property sales.
She said in five years, the facility at 1421 S. Forks Ave., might need a new roof and expansion might be considered in the future.
“We’re fortunate we’ve been able to put into a CD and earn some interest until our board decides its next steps,” Offutt said.
The Forks Timber Museum was founded in 1982 and its log cabin structure was built in 1989, she said.
Conceptual designs for the Sequim Museum’s exhibit building have been in the works for more than a decade, Reandeau Stipe said.
The front facade will be all-natural wood with rustic red painted around the building. Inside, planned permanent exhibits include displays on logging, farming, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, the Manis mastodon and the new Columbian mammoth, along with a reading room and possibly art space.
Museum officials want to return to the organization’s roots by concentrating on natural history, they said.
Temporarily, the exhibit will be housed inside the administration building until the new exhibit building is constructed.
Sequim Museum volunteers plan to have the temporary exhibit available for viewing with lessons for local children in April.
Rychlik said a new building will help preserve Sequim’s history and is the “best thing to ever happen to Sequim and the community.
“People want to know about their town,” Rychlik said.
The Sequim Museum started in the 1950s on the city clerk’s desk at Sequim City Hall.
As more items were added, they filled a closet and a store room before moving to the old post office in 1979.
In 1992, the Sequim-Dungeness Museum and Peninsula Cultural Arts Center merged and later became the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
The new building would save the all-volunteer organization money on insurance and other necessities and make it easier to manage facilities.
As with other museum projects, much of the construction and equipment will be provided in-kind from Sequim pioneers like Rychlik, John Dickinson and Dan Smith.
Sequim Museum volunteers have several fundraiser plans in the near future to help make the new exhibit building a reality.
Some new ideas include participating in a flea market April 23 at Sequim Prairie Grange and coordinating a barn dance fundraiser in the summer.
They will continue other fundraisers such as providing parking during Lavender Weekend, participating in the First Friday Art Walk, offering book signings, and selling commemorative bricks that will be placed inside the new exhibit building.
Reandeau Stipe said an important part of sustainability for the museum is the Dungeness Schoolhouse, which the museum acquired in 1995. Its rentals pay for utilities, subsidizes utilities and insurance and puts monies into the general fund, she said.
For more information about the Sequim Museum, attend its annual meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 26, in the Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road.
For more information, or to donate, go to 175 W. Cedar St., email [email protected], call 360-681-2257 or visit www.sequimmuseum.com.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]