Crews will soon move a 94-year-old red barn in Kent to help clear the way for an expanded Green River levee and to preserve the historic structure.
The Dvorak Barn – named after the family that last farmed the land – sits right in the path of the estimated $52 million Lower Russell Road Levee improvement project planned by the King County Flood District and city of Kent between South 212th and South 228th streets to increase flood protection and fish habitat. Crews will move the barn about 200 feet to the city-owned Green River Natural Resources Area.
“It’s an historic barn – we learned after we purchased the property,” said Toby Hallock, city environmental engineer, in a Jan. 7 report to the City Council’s Public Works Committee. “We need to have the barn moved. Members in the community want to preserve it, and we want to keep it as well.”
The City Council on Tuesday approved a $159,494 contract with Marysville-based Nickel Bros., to move the barn by the end of January or early February. The city engineer’s estimate was $116,050. The city will use storm drainage utility funds (monthly fees charged to residents and businesses) to pay for the relocation. City nursery staff will use the barn, built in 1925, for storage.
The King County Flood Control District is paying for most of the levee project. Levee construction is expected to start later this year.
“A lot of us have seen the barn over the years and not realized the significance of it,” Councilman Dennis Higgins said at the committee meeting. “With all of the development in the valley, to save it reminds us of the history of the valley. I’m proud we are able to do that.”
Sharon Bersaas and Nancy Simpson helped start a drive about three years ago to save the barn. The city bought the property several years ago in preparation for the improved levee.
“The Save The Dvorak Barn Committee is thrilled the barn will be saved,” Bersaas said in an email. “The barn showcases our early history as a farming community and we plan on including the Dvorak Barn on the Barn Tour as part of the annual August event, Experience Historical Kent.”
Bersaas said the group has discussed getting landmark status for the barn and doing some restoration. She also said the committee, Simpson and the Greater Kent Historical Society will help make sure a plaque gets placed on the barn to describe its history, similar to the plaques recently put on the downtown Kent historic buildings.
A fire in spring 2017 destroyed a farmhouse that sat near the barn or it would have been preserved as well, Hallock said.
Prior to raising and moving the barn, structural bracing and framing of the existing structure will be required so the barn can withstand the move, according to city documents. Other project elements include preparing an access path on which the barn can be moved, placing the structure securely at its new location, and restoring the site with seed and mulch. Wetlands and wetland buffers are also present on the project site. There are no overhead power utilities, telephone, or cable lines to cause interference during the move.
Prospective bidders were required by the city to have at least 10 years of experience with moving structures to be considered as a recognized responsible bidder. Two companies filed bids. Securing the barn to a permanent concrete foundation will be done later under a separate contract, according to city staff.