Martinson Cabin gives city an historical touch

POULSBO — With the city government’s centennial celebration fast approaching, another historic structure in Poulsbo is about to have a first anniversary of its own.

Martinson Cabin, which has been open to the public less than a year, is already boasting nearly 100 visitors each month, and attendance is climbing. After opening to the public last fall, docents at the cabin have settled in to the tasks of museum care and are ready to give the public a lesson in history.

“I’m surprised that we get the attendance that we do,” said Poulsbo Historical Society curator Erica Varga. “Our little cabin, it proves the city did the right thing.”

Restoration of Martinson Cabin was done by the Bight of Poulsbo organization, which then donated the structure to the city. The city has supplied electricity, exterior maintenance and security. Bight of Poulsbo founder Bill Austin, who did much of the reconstruction work, said the cabin is now functioning just as he imagined.

“I just love what they’ve done inside,” he said. “It’s exactly the way I had in my mind.”

The cabin hosts field trips in which students are encouraged to learn what life was like in 19th century Little Norway. Visitors can guess the uses of various historical objects, such as thunder buckets, and give butter churning a try. Docent Judy Driscoll said the children’s reactions have been positive.

“We try to work some of Poulsbo’s history into them while they’re having fun,” she said. “It’s been really well-received. They like almost everything.”

Historic reenactments and hay rides are a few of the events planned for the cabin as Poulsbo turns 100 next year, Varga said. She is also looking to partner with area parks, including Nelson Park and Fish Park, for upcoming celebrations.

“There’s a lot we need to do in there,” she said. “It hasn’t reached its full potential, but it will. It’s already worth the city’s effort.”

Area high schoolers Rebekah Purser and Elisabeth Dornink have been helping develop the cabin’s interpretive aids. Dornink is creating period costumes and will give sewing and clothes washing demonstrations for visitors.

Many of the cabin’s artifacts and furniture were donated by the Poulsbo Historical Society, as well as local community members. Varga said the PHS can always use more donated items from the past.

“It’s not 100 percent historically accurate, but we’re hoping it will evolve and change,” Varga said. “It deserves patience in its first-year run.”

The Martinson Cabin was home to Norwegian immigrant Michael Martinson and his family. The Martinsons came to Poulsbo in the early 1890s. Their cabin was originally located in the Lincoln district near Bond Road and Stottlemeyer. It is now near the southeast corner of Viking Avenue and Finn Hill Road. The cabin is open from 1-4 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Docents are onsite, and donations are accepted at the door.

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