Barker cabin ready for visitors



Federal WayŽ’s historic Barker Cabin, looking considerably younger than its approximately 120 years, will have a coming out party this Saturday.

The Historical Society of Federal Way, instrumental in the cabinŽ’s restoration over the past decade, will host a potluck picnic from 2 to 5 p.m. at Historic Cabins Park at South 348th Street and Fourth Avenue South ŽÐŽÐ the third address the former Barker abode has had in its itinerant existence.

For the first time since its resurrection, the one-room, 16-by-16-feet cabin will be open to visitors. They wonŽ’t find any furnishings inside. Those and a fireplace will be added later. So will a wood floor to cover the bare cement pad underfoot.

While still a work in progress, the cabin is a source of pride for the volunteers who rebuilt it, said Ed Opstad, president of the Historical Society. In addition to the local historians, help came from individuals and groups, including Friends of the West Hylebos Wetlands, Federal Way Kiwanis Club and the Federal Way Stake of the Church of Latter-day Saints. Work parties have spent hundreds of hours on the project.

The cabin was moved in 1992 to its present site near Hylebos Wetlands State Park. Since 1954, it had been at the old Federal Way Shopping Center, whose owners offered the relic to the Historical Society to make room for redevelopment of what is now Pavilions Centre.

Before that, the cabin stood where it was built by John M. Barker in 1883 (some sources say 1881, according to Opstad). Barker and three others staked claims to land between Mirror Lake and what is now Pacific Highway South, to the north and south of South 312th Street. BarkerŽ’s cabin was built from split cedar logs, most of them still in the walls.

When the Historical Society moved the cabin, members marked pieces before taking it apart.

Disassembly was Ž“a piece of cake,Ž” Opstad said. Ž“We took it down in a day. But the reassembly took some time. Some of the logs had rotted and had to be replaced. And it needed a new roof.Ž”

Don Hagen, a member of the Kiwanis Club, split about 1,000 cedar shakes for the roof to recapture the original look of one of Federal WayŽ’s first structures.

Still on the Historical SocietyŽ’s to-do list is the Denny cabin, built in 1899 at the foot of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle and moved to Historic Cabins Park because it didnŽ’t fit in developersŽ’ plans. ItŽ’s partially restored and will be finished after the Barker cabin is done.

For SaturdayŽ’s get-together, the public is invited to bring entrees, side dishes, salads or desserts. The Historical Society will provide drinks, plastic tableware and paper plates ŽÐŽÐ and photographs and other memorabilia of Federal WayŽ’s past, Opstad said.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and by e-mail at

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