History of the Farm
1976 - Present
On a cold, wet November day in 1976, Alan Iglitzin, violist and founding member of the Philadelphia String Quartet, took a ferry from his Seattle home to view what a real estate agent on the Olympic Peninsula described as “a broken-down farm near Center.”
Then artists-in-residence at the University of Washington, the Quartet had often performed at Centrum Foundation during the summer months, and during this time, had fallen in love with the Olympic Peninsula. Now, the four string players were thinking of finding a summer home for themselves, where they could rehearse and perhaps give a few informal concerts. Alan was tasked with finding (and funding) the location.
“It was pouring down rain, of course,” Alan remembers. “Blackberries had inundated the farm, and the milking shed was leaning over. The farmhouse had bats’ nests, birds’ nests and rats’ nests all over the place. The only heating system was a trash burner. It was a mess.”
Then Alan looked at the barn, filled with manure, broken concrete and old machinery. It clearly would be a project to fix it up—but the natural acoustics were wonderful. And that was key for Alan. It took years to renovate the farm sufficiently to accommodate concerts and visitors, but for Alan, the task was worth every step.
In 1985, chamber music first flowed out of the barn, as it has nearly each summer since, to the delight of thousands of visitors, both local and from far away. The Philadelphia String Quartet has long since retired, but the high caliber of musicianship has never wavered. We are proud to have hosted hundreds of musicians from all over the world to perform in the barn over the years.
Today, the concert series Alan started is known simply as “Concerts in the Barn.” Performances take place every summer and are open to the public without charge. Ask any local where “Concerts in the Barn” is, and you’ll be pointed straight down Center Road. In the past 40 years, “the Barn” has become part of the local lexicon and assumed iconic proportions.
In 2018, Alan and his wife, Leigh, entered into an agreement with the Jefferson Land Trust to preserve the conservation values of the 53-acre property. The agreement comes with the assurance that the farm’s forests, streams, and farmlands will be preserved in perpetuity—so that chamber music and other art forms may continue to flourish on the farm, in perpetuity.
We hope you enjoy strolling through the gardens, orchards, and trails on the farm. You’re welcome to pluck from our berry bushes, which produce strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and thornless blackberries from late spring to early fall. And if you happen to visit in early spring, be sure to look for the trillium flowers that bloom in clusters throughout the grounds. They were lovingly planted by Alan throughout his 40-year stewardship of his beloved farm.
Origin of the Farm
Today, it’s hard to envision the ramshackle property Alan first encountered and subsequently transformed into the site of Trillium Woods Farm. Alan admits that at the time he knew nothing of the farm’s history.
Over the years, however, Alan became aware of a part of the farm’s past that troubled him. The original owners of the farm were the Iseri family, Japanese-Americans who built the farmhouse, barn and what was once called “the milking parlor.” The Iseris raised cows and grew berries, and for decades provided dairy products and produce to local residents.
When the U.S. entered World War II, that all changed. The Iseris were sent to an internment camp and after the war, were unable to regain ownership of the farm. Instead, the property passed from one owner to the next, but never again became the thriving, working farm that the Iseris had created. Even as Alan brought it back to life in its new incarnation, he always felt that there was “a black cloud” surrounding its past.
In the 1990s, Isamu “Sam” Iseri, who’d helped his father build the barn, called Alan out of the blue and asked if he could see his former home, where he was born in 1914. Alan was thrilled—he’d had no idea how to reach the former owners. Sam and his family soon came out for a visit and were pleased to see how Alan had rejuvenated the original structures that the Iseris had built, and particularly his success in converting the barn into a performance hall.
The Iseris continued to visit the farm regularly, and Sam and Alan became good friends. Sam passed away in 2004, but the friendship he started with Alan lives on with the surviving members of his family.
We still find evidence of the Iseris’ life on the farm whenever we work on the property. Alan once found a receipt hidden in the farmhouse walls for a basketball Sam Iseri must have purchased during high school. Small bottles still emerge from years of being buried in the ground. These remembrances of the Iseris make us ever mindful of the people who first created the marvelous landscape you see today. We are proud to follow in their footsteps.