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Federal Way landmark featured in documentary
One of Federal Way’s historical landmarks stars in a documentary on 1840s Methodist missionaries arriving in Puget Sound.
The Barker Cabin, located at the West Hylebos Wetlands Park, 411 S. 348th St., is featured in the documentary, “Fort Nisqually: Pathways to Puget Sound.” The film is directed by Sid Lee, video productions coordinator for the City of Federal Way and producer and director for Rainier Media Center. It was made for the city of DuPont and its historical society and is a companion piece to the 2006 “Story of DuPont: a Company Town.” The film is a Rainier Media Center production.
The short documentary is an effort funded by the City of DuPont and DuPont Historical Society and is centered around the original DuPont site of Fort Nisqually. The Hudson’s Bay Company, Nisqually Indian tribe, methodist missionaries and Wilkes Expedition are detailed in the film that displays the Puget Sound from 1833 to 1869. Chloe Clark, the first documented American teacher to the state of Washington and Dr. John Richmond, who established the first American-led Methodist mission near the fort, are featured, among others figures. The first Fourth of July celebration in Puget Sound, which took place in 1842 and was attended by all four of the film’s leading groups, is also noted.
“We’re trying to make (the documentary) as user-friendly as possible for people who have never really heard anything about the Puget Sound before,” Lee said.
Reenactments of 1840s events were filmed at locations, including the Barker cabin, because of their historical significance. DuPont does not have any period structures that adequately represent 1840s missionary establishments. The cabin was used to depict Clark’s story, including her wedding. Voiceovers of historical figures and events were also completed inside the cabin.
“I think it’s just wonderful that Federal Way has saved that wonderful piece of history and made it available for us to use,” DuPont Museum manager Johanna Jones said.
The building is historically accurate and represents what a structure of the 1840s looked like, Jones said. Though missionary cabins of the time would have differed slightly in their design, the Barker cabin was the best fit for the filming because of its look and wooded Hylebos park surroundings, she said.
The Barker cabin homestead was originally built in 1883 near what is today 7th Avenue South and South 312th Street in Federal Way. The building is the oldest standing structure in the city, according to the Historical Society of Federal Way. It was constructed around 1881 by resident and pioneer John Barker.
For more than 10 years, the Historical Society has worked to restore the structure back to its original luster. A volunteer work crew completed installation of a cedar floor in the cabin last year. It is furnished with authentic time pieces and is open for public viewing.
“Without historical societies and people saving these and preserving these landmarks and sites, they would be lost.” Jones said. “We are just thrilled it was available for us.”
Once complete, in February, the documentary will air on channel 22 public access cable television.