Students leave their mark on historical Sunnyside site

A group of local fifth graders can now claim ownership in one of Sunnyside's most recognizable pieces of history. Students in Erica Barrom's class spent most of Friday afternoon rechinking Ben Snipes cabin at the corner of Grant Avenue and South Fourth Street.

"We came to fill in the cracks," said fifth grader Carlos Cardenas.

The students spent more than an hour up to their elbows in a mud and straw mixture that they used to fill in the spaces between the logs of the cabin. The students gave it their all as they pushed their hands into the crevices in the building, ensuring the mud mixture was securely in place.

Barrom said the rechinking served as a way for the students to get involved in the community. She explained that when Bill Flower mentioned the idea of rechinking the cabin to her husband, Jeff Barrom, she decided to bring the idea to her class.

Barrom said she asked her students if they would be interested in rechinking the more than 150-year-old cabin, and the answer was a resounding yes.

According to Barrom, before her students arrived at the cabin they went through a little bit of preparation in the classroom. She said they talked about what chinking is and the importance of volunteering. She added that once the students arrived at the cabin Flower gave them an oral presentation on the history of Sunnyside and the significance of the cabin.

After watching her students jump head first into the rechinking project, Barrom said it was nice to see her students not afraid to get a little dirty.

Barrom added that this is one of several volunteer projects her classroom has taken part in. She said that her students also make monthly visits to Hillcrest Manor, where they meet with the residents.

Ed Werkhoven, president of the Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary Club, which oversees the historic cabin, said Ben Snipes cabin typically has to be rechinked every three years. He noted that the interval between chinking the cabin depends on how much the sun beats down on the building, which causes the mud mixture to dry up and crack.

Werkhoven said it was nice to see a group of students who were so interested in helping maintain the cabin.

"These kids really got into it," Werkhoven said. "They're not afraid to get a little dirty."

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at


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