Day 537 - Ferndale
In Hovander Homestead Park, 5299 Nielsen Road south of Ferndale off Hovander Road (360-384-3444), stands the Hovander Homestead, a fine example of turn-of-the-century Swedish immigrant domestic architecture. A frame structure, the Hovander House was erected between 1901 and 1903 by Håkan Hovander (originally named Håkan Olsson Håvander), an architect. In 1969 the Hovander Homestead was purchased by Whatcom County.
Hovander was born in 1841 in Sallerup, Skåne. As a teenager, he came to the United States, where he worked as a mason’s helper and bricklayer. He returned to Sweden, marrying in 1879 in Stockholm. Failing health prompted him to move on, first to New Zealand but then to the West Coast, first San Francisco and then Seattle. In 1898 Hovander purchased 100 acres of homestead land and three years later began the house, for which he himself laid the brick foundation. A high peaked roof with many gables tops the lovely home, which is accented with a white scalloped trim. The large rooms with high ceilings contain many pieces of the Hovander family’s furniture brought to Washington around Cape Horn. In the parlor and along the hallway are portraits of King Oscar II. In the Architect’s Room (formerly Hovander’s sons’ bedroom) are some of his plans, including drawings of a building in Stockholm. The second floor is an incomplete storage area.
In addition to the main house are several other structures, including a large red barn, milk house, and water tower. In the 1911 barn are pieces of farm equipment and an old stagecoach. The nearby water tower was constructed in 1916. The restored milk house is furnished with equipment for making butter and cheese. The farm became almost totally self-sufficient, producing meat, eggs, dairy products, fruit, and grains. After Hovander died in 1915, his wife continued to live on the farm, and their son Otis, one of seven children, oversaw the farm until Whatcom County purchased it in 1969.
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