What should I expect to see happen next at the barn site?
The first thing you will see is the fabric building coming down around the barn. This includes the fabric, the steel and the concrete ecology blocks. Then later this winter/spring you will see the remaining parts of the barn coming down and being removed from the location where it has been since the 1930s.
Can you please tell me a short version of the dream of the Thayer barn becoming the Duvall Cultural and Performing Arts Center?
The original idea for a performing arts center in Duvall was to convert the old Thayer Barn into an arts center and was imagined by Sunny Ruthchild, who for many years owned the Grange, and also imagined and produced with Kali Bradford the Sandblast festival. When the approximately 30 acres of Thayer farmland was annexed into Duvall, it was approved with a condition that the Thayer barn and some property would be donated by the landowner for a performing arts center. This requirement is in a 1995 Pre-annexation agreement. This requirement was negotiated with the landowner because the community really was concerned about the amount of growth that this particular development would bring and the community wanted to make sure that the arts community would continue to thrive in Duvall. After the annexation of the farmlands and the barn into Duvall, the City and a group of volunteers went to work to try to create a performing arts center. The City formed its first arts commission and soon after DFA was formed primarily for the purpose of working on this project and supporting arts in the Lower Snoqualmie Valley. The idea was that the City, the Arts Commission and the DFA would work together to bring the vision of an arts center to fruition. Early on it became evident that, in part for reasons of traffic noise, a performing arts center would be better suited away from being adjacent to SR203. Early concepts for the performing arts center included building a new foundation and a new first floor downslope from the Thayer Barn’s historic location and then moving the barn to sit on that new foundation and first floor.
One of the primary challenges was that the Thayer barn was one large (approximately 30 acre) parcel and before the much smaller parcel for the performing arts center could be created, the Thayer farmland would have to be subdivided. The timing of the subdivision application was controlled by the landowner and the approval of the subdivision was regulated by the City of Duvall. Over the years there were several attempts by the landowner to subdivide and develop the Thayer farmlands as Duvall Village but none of those attempts achieved final approval and therefore did not result in subdivision of land. The creation of the parcel for the performing arts center was effectively on hold.
In 2003 the City of Duvall and the DFA entered a contract where the City agreed to provide the barn, the land and limited funding of $200,000 (which included some 4Culture grant money) to develop the Thayer Barn Community Arts Center and DFA agreed to raise funds to renovate the barn and operate and maintain the arts center. Under this contract the City would own the new facility once it was constructed and DFA would have a long-term lease. The City was to move the barn, and manage and contribute the construction of the new foundation. A condition of this early contract was DFA needed to raise $100,000 prior to May 1, 2003 in order for the City to move forward with its commitment of the $200,000 and the construction work of moving the barn and building the foundation. DFA went about activating a group of volunteers who worked like crazy and DFA with the support of the community raised $100,000 by the required date.. The City decided not to move forward with their $200,000 project commitment. This created a major setback to the DFA and to the creation of a performing arts center. DFA faced difficulties in raising money from the community because there was confusion and anger in the community about what happened with the City. The best explanation that the DFA got from the City about why the City was not moving forward with its part of the project was that the City was not in a financial position to contribute money to the project. Also, the private development effort regarding the subdivision of the farmland started and stalled multiple times. DFA also had difficulty raising money with grant agencies because DFA did not own the property where the barn stoodand did not own any property for a new performing arts center. Primary for these reasons, the property sat dormant. During that period of dormancy, the Thayer barn deteriorated and eventually had to be disassembled.
When a new buyer, Westcott Homes, purchased the property, Westcott Homes (Duvall Village LLC), DFA, and the City of Duvall entered a Memorandum of Understanding that outlined the goals for the development and included a commitment for all three parties to enter a Development Agreement. The DFA, the City of Duvall and the new property owner entered a Development Agreement in June 2015. These agreements set forth a plan that would result in the subdivision of the Thayer farm land, creation of 99 town homes, creation of a parcel for the performing arts center, creation of a parking lot that would be owned by the City and jointly used by the DFA and the City, and the creation of a privately owned commercial property where the Thayer barn is located. The Development Agreement also included provisions that effectively dissolved the 2003 contract when the DFA obtained the property for the arts which occurred upon subdivision of the farmland at final plat.
DFA applied for and obtained grants from 4Culture to support the project again as it seemed more probable that the project would go forward with this new property owner. Based on the grant application submitted by DFA, which included a letter of support from the City for the project, 4Culture awarded some significant grants to the project including one in 2015 for 420,000. Part of that money was used to place a protective cover over the barn, develop a conceptual design for the new performing arts center and pay for the installation of some of the utilities that would support the new art center. The disassembled Thayer barn was covered with a protective tent; the land was subdivided; DFA obtained the land for a performing arts center; the city obtained a parking lot that would be used to support the arts center and support use of the trail; the public gained a wide sidewalk to a trail that connects the new parking lot to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail; the utilities were installed to support the performing arts center; and grounds for the performing arts center were completed. The City Council approved the subdivision of the land in December 12, 2019 and DFA at long last received the deed to the DFA property just as 2019 drew to a close.
On February 22, 2020, DFA held an event to celebrate the fact that DFA finally had a parcel for the performing arts center and to announce that the next step was to focus on raising money for the building. The plan was to construct the building and install the elements of the Thayer barn in the new building.
Unfortunately, in early March 2020 COVID19 hit. Covid shut down all in person art events and raised serious questions about how indoor public assembly would work in the future. In general, the cultural community throughout the United States and beyond was devastated and financially crippled as a result of Covid.
With the weight of Covid, DFA continued working and had an online auction. We installed an outdoor electrical system on DFA grounds for outdoor performances with a grant from 4Culutre, and with a $15,000 grant from 4Culture, DFA continued to work with the community regarding how best to use the old Thayer barn in the new performing arts center. DFA’s application to 4Culture, for the $15,000 grant to plan the reuse of the barn wood, included a letter supporting those efforts from the City’s Cultural Commission (formerly the Arts Commission). The Cultural Commission and the DFA both worked with the community to plan the use of the Thayer barn wood to support the arts and serve as touchstone for future generations. . As COVID dragged on, DFA started to think more about how DFA could use the land as an outdoor venue, perhaps an intermediate step, to support the long-term goal of an indoor performing arts center. Having an outdoor venue could be in alignment with DFA’s ongoing goal of supporting the arts in the Lower Snoqualmie Valley. Because it was clear that the timeline for raising money for the performing arts center was being impacted by Covid, DFA started to explore some possibilities of using some of the Thayer barn parts outside while at the same time hoping to be able to keep the rest of the barn parts and wood protected for long-term use inside the new performing arts center. In December 2020, DFA provided a detailed comprehensive project update to the City Council in the format they requested, which the City told the DFA was very informative and helpful.
In 2021, the City decided it really wanted to see the development of the commercial parcel that contains the Thayer barn. And in July of 2021, the Duvall City Council unanimously voted on a decision that effectively incentivized the landowner to sell the property and the decision was intentionally designed to get the property developed sooner rather than later. DFA does not own the property that contains the Thayer barn and contractually DFA has to remove the Thayer barn from the commercial property after the sale of the commercial property and within 60 days of receiving notice from the property owner.
After the property was sold, DFA received notice requiring the removal of the Thayer barn by Oct 21, 2021. The new buyer, who is the current property owner, kindly provided DFA with an extension to remove the barn before spring 2022. DFA asked the City if the City had any place where DFA could move the barn or if the City could help financially with the situation. Some ideas were explored but the City ultimately did not have a functional location for the barn or the tent and the City let DFA know that the City would not contribute to the cost of moving the tent or the barn. DFA then decided, after careful thought and discussions with the City and 4Culture, to auction off the tent and have the new owner of the tent remove the tent from the Thayer barn property. Here are some of the things that drove DFA’s decision to sell the tent. 1) the cost to move the Thayer barn and the protective tent; 2) Covid; 3) the overall strain on the volunteer board members; 4) the amount of money DFA currently has; 5) the City’s unanimous vote that seemed to DFA to indicate a lack of the City’s commitment to the long time vision for the project ; 6) the lack of invitation from the City to DFA or art center project supporters to participate in a public process that would have informed the City’s decision regarding the timing of the development of the Thayer barn property; 7) DFA’s contractual requirements to remove the tent and barn within 60 days; 8) the at best lengthened timeline for the project; and 9) if DFA could have moved the barn and the tent to our new parcel, then all of it would have had to be moved yet again to make room for a future art center if that project goes forward and DFA did not believe there would be funders willing to keep moving the barn and tent. The tent has been sold at auction for $25,800 and will be removed by the new owner of the tent in February 2022
DFA will try to keep the shed that is south of the big white tent, the cupolas and some barn wood to make repairs/modifications to the shed and cupolas which we hope we can move to the DFA property to support outdoor performances. The remaining wood will be donated to area farmers so they can repair their barns and other buildings. The siding from the Thayer barn roughly matches siding that used on old barns from this era and is no longer readily available. The future of the Duvall Performing Arts Center is uncertain. At this time the DFA is focusing on removing the tent and the barn to make way for commercial development which is consuming much of our time and energy and DFA is hoping to keep the property that we worked so hard to acquire. DFA’s property is not at the current Thayer barn site. DFA’s focus continues to be on supporting the Arts.
How has COVID19 (Covid) Impacted DFA?
DFA has been highly impacted by Covid. Several of our long-term board members have moved away from Duvall. It has been difficult to recruit new board members during Covid. Also, we have not been able to have many events. We weren’t able to have Sandblast in 2021. We were able to cosponsor, with the Duvall Cultural Commission, a community art event called Walk the Planks this fall in Duvall and a play in December in Carnation put on by Sky Performing Arts in 2021. Covid has made it really difficult to do fundraisers. With the stress on individual community members, families and groups it is hard to find folks that are able to volunteer during Covid. Many arts organizations have folded and DFA has certainly struggled but is still standing.
Why did the City of Duvall decide to push forward now with the development of the commercial parcel where the Thayer barn is located?
The City of Duvall has communicated to the DFA that the City unanimously decided to push for the development of the commercial parcel now because the City wants to:
1) Help economic development,
2) Create jobs,
3) Gain a newly constructed building. The businesses in the new building may not generate sales tax but will encourage people to stay in town to shop at other places,
4) Reduce the City’s cost and frustration associated with working with the developer who was party to the development agreement,
And the City reports that it felt good to be in unanimous agreement on something among the City Council, the Mayor and the City staff.
DFA believes that creation of a new performing arts center would have achieved the first three goals and much more but we are unfortunately not the decision makers. And DFA notes that we enjoyed a productive relationship with the developer.
Why didn’t DFA reach out to the supporters of the project to let us know that the City of Duvall was considering this decision? Was there a public hearing?
Yes. There was a public hearing that was intended to inform the Councilmembers with public comments before they made their decision. The City of Duvall did not notify DFA of the hearing. The DFA believes that the City of Duvall should have notified DFA in the spirit of our long-term partnership and the plans for the Duvall Cultural & Performing Arts Center which this decision clearly impacted. Further DFA thinks that the City should have notified DFA about the hearing in the spirit of, if not the letter of, the Memorandum of Understanding and the Development Agreement to which we are both parties. DFA should have been notified about the public hearing as a neighboring property owner regarding a public hearing like this one. Why the City did not seek input from the DFA and the community supporting the arts project on this important decision, is best for the City to explain.
DFA has really tried to keep the community engaged and informed about the project and we apologize for not informing the community sooner about this important point in the trajectory of the project. Please consider that we didn’t know about the hearing. Very soon after the hearing, we received an email from the City informing DFA that the City wanted to meet about plans to move the tent and the barn. Shortly after that DFA received a notice to remove the tent within 60 days from the landowner and we have been busy dealing with that crisis in the midst of the Covid/Omicron pandemic.
What does all of this mean for the future of the planned Duvall Cultural & Performing Arts Center?
The DFA, like many if not all arts organizations, has taken a hard hit from COVID19. We recently heard from the Arts Advisory Committee to 4Culture (one of our largest funders) and some members of the community that there is a question regarding the City’s interest in the project. Through discussions with the City, DFA has learned that the City questions the community’s interest in having a cultural and performing arts center.
For this reason, the DFA is considering how to best move forward with regard to the Duvall Cultural & Performing Arts Center and appreciates interest, input and help from the community. In the meantime, DFA is working hard to keep the property that DFA finally acquired, improve the outdoor venue and provide support to artists and the arts in the valley.
We heard that Duvall Foundation for the Arts (DFA) has a property in Duvall. Is that true? Where is the property?
Duvall Foundation for the Arts acquired property on December 10, 2019 as part of a tri-party agreement between the City of Duvall, Westcott Homes and the Duvall Foundation for the Arts. The property is west of SR203, within the Duvall Village development, across from NE 143rd Place. The property address is 14301 Railroad Way NE, Duvall. (This is not the mailing address for DFA). There is a parking lot adjacent to the DFA property that is owned by the City of Duvall and it is available for use for DFA events and for trailhead users. DFA can use the grounds now. We are hoping that Covid will become less of a barrier in summer of 2022 and we can have some creative events on the property to celebrate that the arts community now owns property.
Can other arts organizations use the DFA property?
Yes, please contact DFA if you have a desire to use the DFA property for an art event. We would love to hear from you!!
Why did DFA think about using the old barn inside the planned new Duvall Cultural and Performing Arts Center?
For the project team, artists who provided input, and the community members that provided input over the years, bringing forward parts of the Thayer barn forward into the new modern arts center was important. Part of that was to honor the efforts of the former DFA members and community supporters who put so much effort into pushing the project forward. Importantly, one of the goals of this overall endeavor was to bring the past and the future together in one creative space that would resonate with folks that have lived here for a long time, people that just moved here, artists, audience and visitors. We felt compelled by the challenges of using the barn wood to evoke the dairy farms, the landscape, our place in the valley and to provide a reference to our collective past where food was produced locally and there was a stronger connection to farms, to the land and to each other. The building was itself was to be an installation that was to be at the same time functional for showcasing the performing and visual arts; designed to support the business plan; and a statement in itself to hold in one place our roots and creative wings. The collective importance of all of us in the broader community. We know and wanted to represent that there is more to our collective story and we wanted to create a space that honored the complexity of our community. And at the same time the design of the new building looks forward, creating opportunities for everyone well into the future.
Why was the barn covered with a steel and white canvas tent?
The tent structure was intended to keep the wood covered to allow it to dry so that it could be repurposed and used in the planned Duvall Cultural and Performing Arts Center. The idea was to use the architectural elements and the wood to the extent practical for non-structural purposes.
Why did DFA have to sell the fabric tent?
DFA did not own the Thayer barn property and had a contract with the property owner to store the barn which was protected by the tent until 1) the approximate 30acre farmland was subdivided and the commercial property was created, 2) the commercial property was sold, and 3) the property owner of the commercial parcel provided DFA with a 60 day notice to remove the barn. The City of Duvall has recently stated that they decided that they do not want to wait any longer to see the Thayer Barn property developed for a commercial business. The City took an action regarding regulation of the Thayer Barn property to incentivize commercial development sooner than later. This decision incentivized the sale of the property and was designed to get the Thayer barn property developed sooner than later.
On August 27, 2021 DFA received a notice that the Thayer Barn property had been sold and that DFA would have to remove the barn and the protective building from that property.
The cost of moving the tent and the barn is way beyond what the DFA has to spend. Just taking the tent down is estimated to be about $50,000 and that does not include moving the barn. The tent sold at auction for $25,800 and the buyer removes the tent which means that DFA does not have to pay for the removal of the tent.
Here are some of the things that drove DFA’s decision to sell the tent. 1) the cost to move the Thayer barn and the protective tent; 2) Covid; 3) the overall strain on the volunteer board members; 4) the amount of money DFA currently has; 5) the City’s unanimous vote that seemed to DFA to indicate a lack of the City’s commitment to the long time vision for the project ; 6) the lack of invitation from the City to DFA or art center project supporters to participate in a public process that would have informed the City’s decision regarding the timing of the development of the Thayer barn property; 7) DFA’s contractual requirements to remove the tent and barn within 60 days; 8) the at best lengthened timeline for the project; and 9) if DFA could have moved the barn and the tent to our new parcel, then all of it would have had to be moved yet again to make room for a future art center if that project goes forward and DFA did not believe there would be funders willing to keep moving the barn and tent.
What is going to happen to the barn itself?
DFA has worked with 4Culture, the City, Duvall Historical Society (DHS) and folks interested in the project and the barn to have much of the barn repurposed.
What is DFA thinking in terms of priorities for the barn wood and architectural parts of the barn?
DFA sees the following opportunities listed here in order of priority:
- Salvage of barn materials and parts that can be reused with-in a year or two (assuming there is funding) to enhance DFA’s new outdoor venue on DFA property. We are primarily looking at shed south of the large tent, the cupolas and materials to repair, modify and repurpose those items.
- Salvage barn materials to be used to repair, maintain and enhance existing old barns and outbuildings in the Snoqualmie Valley and nearby area.
- Distribute some of the wood to local artists to develop artistic products that could be shown, sold or auctioned. The details of this concept are still being developed and it may not be feasible,
- It is possible that there will still be some remaining wood after this planned distribution and DFA is working on a plan for remaining wood, if there is any.
Isn’t there lead paint on the wood.
Yes, some of the wood does have lead paint. Both the yellow and the white paint have been tested and show that those paints contain lead. Some of the wood has no paint. DFA will disclose the fact that there is lead paint on the wood to the recipients of the wood. DFA has worked with an environmental consultant to help us with the health and safety aspects of working with the old wood.
What contractor disassembled the barn? What contractors put up the tent cover?
Cooks Structural Movers disassembled the barn and also placed the block foundation for the tent structure. Clearspan designed, manufactured, delivered and installed the steel and the canvas tent.
Why was the barn taken apart?
The barn could no longer support itself. It was starting to collapse. DFA received input from a number of sources and decided the best path forward was to disassemble the barn in order to save as much of it as we could.
Who was consulted before taking the barn apart?
Duvall Foundation for the Arts consulted with two volunteer project managers that are assisting with the barn project, King County Green Tools, a structural engineer that specializes in restoration of old buildings, several contractors, a report commissioned by the City of Duvall regarding the barns condition, the City of Duvall, the property owner and the community at barn team. Based on this input the decision was made to disassemble the barn.
Can I go into the barn or the tent now?
No, for safety reasons the public can’t go on the Thayer Barn site.
I want some of the barn wood and other materials from the barn. Can I come take it?
Not at this time. The barn is very unstable and it is not safe to go onsite. Most of the wood is going to be donated to local farmers for use to repair/modify their barns and other structures. DFA will be using some of the wood to repair/modify an outbuilding that will be on the DFA property. Some of the materials may be made available to artists to create new art, although the details for that have not been developed. At this time there is not a plan to make the wood generally available. Part of the reason for that is that we are working closely with 4Culture as they have financially supported the protection of the barn wood. Our primary collective goals are to try to keep the wood moving towards preserving some of the valley history and references to rural life and supporting performances on the DFA property.
Why wasn’t the barn saved 15 years ago?
DFA was working with the City of Duvall and the property Owner. Duvall Foundation for the Arts did not own the parcel where the barn is located, did not have a place to move the barn, and did not have permission from the property owner to work on the barn beyond some limited stabilization. Without a permanent home for the barn and ownership of the barn it was not possible or prudent for DFA to move forward with the project.
I heard the barn was from Sears and Roebuck and Co. Is that true?
The barn was a “kit barn” popular in the early 20th century. Sears and Roebuck and Co. sold barns similar to this one. There were other vendors of barns like this as well.
Who owned the barn before it was sold and what did they use it for?
It was owned by the Thayer Family and was used for dairy cows.
How did the Duvall Cultural & Performing Arts Center project get started?
In 1995 when the large approximately 30-acre property that the barn sits on was allowed to become part of the City of Duvall (annexed), the conditions of that annexation included a requirement for part of that property to be set aside for use as a performing arts center and provided that the old barn could be moved to become part of the new art center. The Duvall Foundation for the Arts was formed in large part to raise money to support that vision.
Why didn’t the DFA move the project move forward years ago?
The Duvall Foundation for the Arts doesn’t control the overall development and our project was part of the overall site development. DFA only got our property at the very end of 2019.
Why didn’t Duvall Foundation for the Arts do a better job of letting the community know what was going on with the barn right after the $100,000 was raised in the early 2000s?
This is a fair criticism of the DFA. We should have been in better communication with the community. When the former developer decided not to move forward with the project, the City of Duvall didn’t move forward with its part of the project, and then later the economy tanked, it seemed that the project may be dead. There wasn’t anything going on and we should have done a better job of explaining why.
How much money was raised for the barn project about 15 years ago and what happened to it?
The money was kept safe by DFA. Without the money that was raised by the community, DFA would not have been able to use the grants because the grants DFA received from 4Culture are reimbursement grants. DFA used the money raised by the community to pay for project items and then submitted the bills and proof of payment to 4Culture for grant reimbursement. DFA then returns the grant payments to the project fund. This was one of the most important uses of the money that the community raised.
Of the $100,000 that was raised by the community in the early 2000s, DFA has about $60,000 remaining. The other approximately $40,000 was spent on project costs that were not reimbursed by the grants. Most of these project costs were associated with installation of the utilities to support the planned Duvall Cultural & Performing Arts Center building and the lawn area for the outdoor performance space. For example: $10,000 towards the construction of the raingarden that removes pollution from stormwater generated from the parking lot. The parking lot is available for use by DFA and DFA ‘s guests; $10,711 to widen and color the curving 9 foot wide sidewalk that starts at the parking lot and sweeps through the DFA property to provide a connection to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. This wide sidewalk allows performers to setup in the outdoor space; $4,545 for the irrigation system for the lawn; $1,712 for a celebration to mark finally getting the deed to the property; and other costs including but not limited to a PSE fee to disconnect and reconnect the power during installation of the onsite electrical system. This electrical system was installed to support performances; some costs above a grant amounts; and some costs associated with maintaining temporary storage areas.
What was the Duvall Cultural and Performing Art Center going to look like?
There are schematic designs that were planned for the new facility. It was going to have a roof line similar to the existing barn and be yellow. LMN Architects refined the schematic designs with input DFA obtained from the community and in consideration of the current building codes.
How many townhomes are in the development? Are they for sale?
There will be 99 new townhomes. The townhomes are owned by one company. They can be rented but are not currently for sale.
How would the new Duvall Cultural and Performing Art Center have been used?
DFA did planning with extensive community input in the early years which was revisited throughout the summer of 2017. The focus of the facility was going to be for the arts. We also had a plan to have the building available for rental for weddings and other events in order to generate revenue to pay the operational costs of the facility.
Who was going own and operate the Duvall Cultural and Performing Arts Center once it is was constructed?
First it was going to be owned by the City of Duvall and operated by DFA and then later the plan was that it would be owned and operated by the Duvall Foundation for the Arts. DFA was looking into how to best govern the use of the space and was thinking about how create an operations advisory board composed of leaders of other local arts organizations and other key users of the facility who could guide use policies. These ideas were in the formation stages.
Did the Duvall Foundation for the Arts have a business plan for the Duvall Cultural and Performing Arts Center?
From the beginning DFA had the bones of a business plan that had a driving philosophy of using the building to the extent possible for the arts but included use of the space as a rental for events including weddings, parties, and conferences to help pay for the operational costs of the building. The business plan needed to be updated and made into a cohesive document and we were working on that before Covid hit. The business needs for the facility were provided to the architect and along with the primary arts use, the arts use and business needs drove the design.
What current grants does DFA have?
We have a $15,000 grant from 4Culture to help with the costs of moving some of the Thayer barn wood to the DFA property and starting the repair, modification and repurposing of that wood to support outdoor performances.
How can I help?
If you support the arts, it would be very helpful to let the elected officials in Duvall know that art is important to you and to the broader community.
DFA is looking for additional volunteer board members to support these efforts and our ongoing programs like Sandblast and scholarships. From time to time, we hold fundraising events and parties and we always need more volunteers to help with those. If there is anyone out there that has experience coordinating volunteers for these kinds of events, we would love it if you could join our team!!