Barn Hearts and the Missing Swallows

We really enjoy visiting the barns at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, WA. There are about 6 or so old barns at the park, and there is a lot of history behind the barns.  Fort Steilacoom Park used to be the site of Western State Hospital (the hospital is now across the street from Fort Steilacoom Park). A sign at the park helps explain the history of farming at Fort Steilacoom Park. In 1871, state funding for what was then known as the "Insane Asylum of Washington" was scarce, so they started a small farm to grow food for the patients and staff.

By the early 1900's the farm had grown to about 200 acres. Hospital patients worked at the farm as part of their occupational therapy. My mom told me that many years ago she used to do the hair of a lady who was in charge of overseeing that at the hospital, and the lady felt that the farming activities helped the patients at the hospital. As times changed, it ended up costing too much to keep the farm operations going, and farming ceased there in 1965.

Reading a sign which shares information about
the history of farming on the site of Fort Steilacoom Park

From the sign -- an old picture of the barn seen in the above picture

Each barn is different, and the barns have amazing character.  The Blue Barn is a brick barn with a wooden part at the top which is painted blue.  For some reason, people seem to like to write hearts on the outside brick walls of the Blue Barn.

A shot of the back of the barn
I think the blue is so pretty.

No trespassing!

You can see this past post for more pictures of the Blue Barn.

I also wanted to mention that earlier this month when we visited the twin barns (also at Fort Steilacoom Park) with the double silos, the cliff swallows I mentioned in an earlier post were mostly gone.  Yesterday we didn't hear or see any of them.  I was so sad at first and afraid something had happened to them.  I think, though, they have just migrated South. According to's page about cliff swallows, they migrate "to and from southern South America in large flocks, over a considerable period of time. . . . The date of fall departure varies from year to year, although fall migration typically begins by early August, soon after the young become independent."   I hope they return next year!

Silos where most of the cliff swallows lived
Here is a past post which contains more pictures of the double barns with the double silos.  This post shows the cliff swallows.  Also check out the "barns" tag to see more barns at Fort Steilacoom Park.

♥ I'm linking this post to Guest Heart Thursday. ♥


  1. Wow, I love these old barns - and I'm so glad you included the history! I am even more glad that someone had the foresight to preserve these beautiful old structures. We live less than half a mile from an old "insane asylum" with wonderful old buildings (no barns). These were all torn down to make room for a high-density housing development. Sigh.

    It's curious that there are so many hearts on the blue barn. What a wonderful collection! Did you add your own? :=}

  2. Thank you, Clytie! I'm so glad the barns are still there! They tore the old hospital down, but left the foundation of it up as a memorial. It's really neat. I don't know if I've posted pics here of it before, but if I haven't I will try and do that soon! :) We decided to look for hearts on the Blue Barn after we saw a great picture a photographer had taken there in which we saw a heart (the pic is here... We didn't add our own. lol


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