The tall barn at 6209 N. Coulee Hite Road in Reardan is well-preserved for its years, having been built in 1926, and is a big and tall structure easily visible from the road. But unlike most vintage barns that are either so weathered that no paint color is visible on the siding or they are white or the more traditional red – this one is green.
“Well, it was red originally,” said owner Thomas Hyslop, “but my father decided to paint it green. I have no idea why, but we’ve kept it that way.”
The tall, gothic-style barn with hay hood and cupola sits on the 1,120-acre Hyslop family farm property in Reardan, where it once housed draft horses and other work horses that were part of the farm’s operation. The barn is now listed on the Washington State Heritage Barn Register.
In 1997 the Hyslop family began a restoration project to preserve the barn. Hyslop, who now owns the property with his sister and two brothers, said that siding on the south and west sides of the barn was in bad condition, the wooden vents in the cupola were rotted, many windows were broken and a large group of pigeons had set up housekeeping in the loft. It was his father, also named Thomas, who oversaw the renovation – and chose the color green for the barn’s exterior.
They re-sided the barn, but since the original type of siding was no longer available, they had lumber run in a pattern to match the old siding. Windows and frames were replaced, a new roof put on, the cupola restored – and the pigeons evicted. And, of course, the barn was repainted. Green.
“And I’m glad we were able to get it done before Dad died,” said Hyslop.
The barn and property has remained in family hands since Hyslop’s great-grandfather Thomas came to the area from Nova Scotia in 1879. He staked out a section of land, worked and improved the land for five years, became a naturalized citizen, after which his homestead application was granted. The original homestead document was signed by President Grover Cleveland, said his great-grandson and namesake Thomas Hyslop.
Over the years additional parcels of land were added until the farm reached its peak of 1,280 acres. In 1912 farming operations moved into the hands of the elder Hyslop’s son Victor, whose son Thomas took over farm management after WWII. And Thomas’ son, also named Thomas, is the Hyslop who with his siblings owns the property today.
“We continue to be involved some,” Hyslop said, but noted that the land has been leased to a family that has also lived in the farmhouse close to the barn since the late 1980s. Wheat, canola and, for the first time this year, garbanzo beans, are grown on the property. There is also some livestock.
In the early days there were open stalls in the barn for the work horses as well as for the draft horses that were raised and trained for area farmers. When son Victor took over operations, gates were added to the feed stalls, the oat bin removed from the loft and the loft’s floor reinforced to be able to handle the weight of baled hay, rather than the loose hay which had been stored there previously.
In recalling his boyhood on the farm property, Hyslop remembers that once gates were put in to close off the stalls and heifers housed behind them, it was his not-so-pleasant job to go in and clean out the stalls.
“I also pushed some cows around, and I had this one half Arab horse I rode that didn’t like water,” he said. “There’s a creek that runs below the barn and we were running the cows across. At the edge of the creek the horse just planted his feet, but I kept going.”
He and his wife Vivian have lived in Spokane for many years. In 1978 he opened Hytopz, a construction equipment rental company, which he closed about five years ago. Vivian had a retail store, Tack Trunk, a horse supply company, for some time. They have been foster parents and took in many of her younger siblings (she is the second-oldest of 15 children) to raise, but now they are happily retired and living in the hills above Liberty Lake, where they can see the annual fireworks display from their home.
And now that she’s retired, Vivian, who grew up in Davenport, Ritzville and Harrington, has purchased for herself a 2002 red, stick-shift, two-seater convertible Porsche, which she drives in good weather. “I’m doing so because I’m old and because I can,” she said.
But this July the two of them plan to be at the Reardan grain-growers annual picnic. They may live in town, but they’re never far from the farm.
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