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Martinson cabin leaves home after 100 years

POULSBO — It’s been said it takes a village to raise a child.

Apparently it also takes a village to raze a cabin, especially if you have to do it one piece at a time.

On Nov. 6, members of the Bight of Poulsbo and the Martinson family gathered for the final day of work deconstructing the 100-year-old Martinson cabin. Bight members have been working since October disassembling and cataloging the home for its move to a new location.

With Bight founder Bill Austin at the helm last Thursday, Vern’s Organic Topsoil owner Sam Allen used a backhoe to lift timbers, one by one, from the structure.

Nearby, Allen’s father-in-law Vern Martinson watched and took pictures with a disposable camera.

“It’s mixed emotions,” Martinson said of watching the work. “I’m real glad and real proud they’re doing this but I’m sad to see it leave the farm.”

The cabin, located near the intersection of Stottlemeyer Road and Bond Road, was built around 1890 by Vern Martinson’s grandfather Mikal Martinson, who immigrated from Norway in 1882. The 40-acre homestead was a dairy farm and is now the location of Vern’s Organic Topsoil, founded by Vern and Pat Martinson and now owned by Sam and Cathleen Allen.

Earlier this year, the Bight of Poulsbo decided to take the cabin on as its next project. The non-profit organization recently finished restoring the early 1900s Nelson farmhouse at Nelson Park. Members hope to locate the Martinson cabin at the same park to show the different homes in which some of the early Poulsbo settlers lived.

For the first time in more than 100 years, on Nov. 8 the pieces of the Martinson cabin, neatly stacked and numbered, were loaded on a flatbed truck by Andy Millican of Millican Boom Service and hauled off the property. They will be stored at a location near Nelson Park until a decision is made about the structure’s future location. Once a site is chosen, volunteers will reassemble the cabin.

Allen said the Martinson family had considered a number of options for what to do with the cabin, which has been in the family continuously since it was built, including offering it to the City of Poulsbo and to the Poulsbo/North Kitsap Historical Society. Allen said family members have been pleased with the choice they made after seeing the work the Bight has put into the project.

“This is the only way this is going to be saved,” he commented.

Austin first suggested the Bight donate the cabin to the City of Poulsbo in August. The parks and recreation committee has unanimously recommended that the building become part of the Nelson Park plan but the Poulsbo City Council is still deliberating over the issue. Among the major concerns are cost of the structure’s upkeep, city liability, the cabin’s condition and ability to make the cabin fit in with park development, which is now underway.

Despite some reluctancy, the council did unanimously give Austin and the Bight of Poulsbo a vote of confidence Oct. 1 to keep working toward getting the 100-year-old cabin to Nelson Park.

In September, Poulsbo Building Inspector Mike Coe took a look at the cabin and said it would be hard to tell how much rot was in the structure without taking it apart. He speculated that as much as 90 percent could be dry-rotted. However, Austin said once volunteers began taking the building apart, they found much less rot than anyone had expected. Most surprising, Austin said he found more salvageable logs in the most damaged south side of the cabin than he’d originally thought he would.

“I got very excited when I saw that,” Austin said.

Austin said volunteers also found a few logs with burn marks on them, signs that they may have been part of the much earlier first Martinson cabin, which burned down. Allen said the first cabin, built soon after 1882, was a dugout style and was located about 100 feet from where the second cabin was built.

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