Iconic Whatcom: Hovander Homestead Park farmhouse

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 3, 2013 

Hakan Hovander, a self-taught architect from Sweden, built the Ferndale house that is now a treasured part of Whatcom County's parks system.

Hakan Hovander, a self-taught architect from Sweden, built the Ferndale house that is now a treasured part of Whatcom County's parks system.

MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

The large farmhouse at Hovander Homestead Park is considered one of the finest restored landmarks in the country.

That's not surprising, given that Swedish immigrant Hakan Hovander was a skilled builder and self-taught architect who earlier built a mansion in Stockholm that was sold to members of Swedish royalty.

Hovander, his wife, Louisa, and their first six children settled in Whatcom County in 1898 when they bought a 60-acre farm across the Nooksack River from Ferndale. He laid the brick foundation three years later, then used 52,000 board feet of red cedar and Douglas fir to erect the two-story house. Design features include large windows, sculpted interior moldings and exterior gingerbread detailing. All of the woodwork, inside and out, was treated with linseed oil.

The house was completed in 1903. A 60-foot-high barn, one of the largest wood barns in the county, was finished eight years later.

After the Hovanders died, their second son, Otis, lived in the house until 1969, when he sold the property at 5299 Nielsen Ave. to Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department. Today, the house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, remains furnished with original pieces from Sweden and other items collected by Otis Hovander.

Docent-led tours of the house this year are scheduled for noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, May 1-19, and noon to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, May 23-Sept. 2. The tours are free, but donations are welcome.

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