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Native culture, ghost stories reward visitors to historic Covington House

It’s not surrounded by the most tranquil part of Vancouver — Main Street southwest of Interstate 5 and north of several grocery stores and shops. But on Sunday afternoon, a bagpiper welcomed a crowd to the grounds of historic Covington House, nestled in a collection of trees a few hundred feet from the road.

The Covington House Heritage Society hosted its third consecutive fall festival Sunday. Volunteers gave tours in between presentations by local historians and a Native American cultural performance.

The cabin-style home, the oldest in Washington, was established by the Covington family in 1848 in the Five Corners area as a boarding school. It’s easy to miss for cars bustling along Main Street — a reminder both of Clark County’s frontier past and present growth.

“People will drive by and say, ‘What is that?’ ” said Donna Quesnell, secretary of The Covington House Historical Society. “We want to give people the chance to come in and see this house.”

For those who spot and enter the home, historical items abound. Among the artifacts adorning its walls are original chairs from the schoolhouse and a land grant signed by former President Abraham Lincoln. The logs that hold the cabin together came from the original site — each one numbered and cataloged.

Those who attend open houses and hold weddings at the site are treated to a surprise, volunteer Carole Luckett said. Luckett has lived in Vancouver for years and began volunteering at the house recently. She attends First Presbyterian Church across the street and hadn’t thought much of the cabin until she started volunteering.

“Their faces just light up when they come and see how warm the place is,” Luckett said of visitors.

On Sunday, nearly 50 people packed inside the small home. Fittingly, they were there to learn.

Local historian Pat Jollota spoke about the history of the house. With Halloween looming, she also told some local ghost stories.

“We’re the oldest city in Washington, so, naturally, we’ll have some ghosts,” Jollota said.

But as the crowd awed and laughed at different parts of Jollota’s stories, the atmosphere was certainly not dead.

“A lot of people say there’s nobody over here,” Luckett said, “but it is alive.”


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