Nearly 30 years ago, Doug and Sue Runyan drove over the North Cascades to meet with a Realtor in the Methow Valley. They fell in love with a small alfalfa field alongside the river below Carlton, called Starvation Acres. In recent years Doug and Sue took on the monumental task to restore the house. Last week, they added a restored barn relocated from Ohio.
Starvation Acres was named in 1968, when winter temperatures dropped 50 degrees below zero overnight, killing all the orchards in the Methow Valley. “The owners thought they were going to starve, so they called this place ‘Starvation Acres’ and the name stuck,” explained Sue.
Doug, a Led Zeppelin fan, added the phrase “Over the Hills and Far Away” to the new “Starvation Acres” sign.
The house has a new foundation, and rotting logs replaced. One bottom log of the home was completely hollow and filled with mice nests. A new porch wraps around the house, offering a shady view of the river and rocky hills. The porch support beams and roof are made entirely of reclaimed wood using mortise and tenon joints — a method used for thousands of years to join pieces of wood using no hardware. The roof beams were a gift from Sue’s father, made from a redwood tree he had planted in 1958. The rest of the porch wood came from a reclaimed barn in Ohio.
When it came time to build the barn, Doug and Sue contacted Randy Smith of Ohio Valley Barn Salvage. Randy works with families who need to remove old barns, and want to see the building restored where it will be of use.
The frame is carefully marked and dismantled, the human stories collected in photos and oral histories. The old growth lumber is used elsewhere, and the stories shared with the new owners. Doug and Sue have photos and stories of the barn wood encircling their porch, and serving a new purpose at their Methow Valley home.
Doug and Sue plan to use the barn to host family gatherings, house Doug’s collection of rock and roll memorabilia, and have a dedicated space for Sue to create art. The Ohio Valley Barn Salvage website states, “We are in the business of preserving the past so that it can be enjoyed by future generations.”
The Starvation Acres barn restoration by Ohio Valley Barn Salvage is featured in an upcoming episode of “Restoration Road,” hosted by Clint Harp. The film crew was on site last week to document the initial stages of construction, and will return next spring to film the completed restoration.
Clint Harp travels across America to work with crews that restore historic buildings. His show, “Restoration Road,” follows a building from its historical beginnings and past uses, to its current location and new life. This episode will be the first filmed in Washington state.
Commissioner Andy Hover would like to hear from the public regarding land use details in the Lower Valley. A question-and-answer session is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Methow Community Center — the old brick schoolhouse in the town of Methow, at the south end of Main Street.
Stephanie Palmer, the director of Okanogan County Planning Development, will be present at the Aug. 18 meeting to answer questions about the Citizens Advisory Committee. Deadline for membership application submission is Sept. 15. For more information, contact Commissioner Andy Hover at firstname.lastname@example.org.