Hovander Homestead Park rests on 333 acres of riverfront farmland just south of the city of Ferndale. The property is an extraordinarily well-preserved model of pioneer farming during the early 20th century. It was opened to the public in 1971, and has become widely popular for hosting events like Civil War reenactments and the Scottish Highland Games each June. Farmyard animals, shaded picnic areas, and playgrounds (including a 50-foot lookout tower) create an ideal environment for family outings, while the River Dike Trail lets visitors explore the park’s scenic natural habitats. Also, be sure to make time for nearby Tennant Lake Park, which can be accessed via a 0.4-mile connector path.
The park gets its name from Hakan Hovander, a Swedish-born architect who sailed to America shortly after the Civil War ended in 1865. For two years he spent time as a builder in San Francisco, Portland, and Chicago before returning to Sweden where he married Louisa Leontine Johansdotter. After producing seven children over the next three decades, Hovander left Sweden for good to sail his family around the world, living in New Zealand, Seattle and finally, Ferndale. In 1898, he purchased a 60-acre farm with over a mile of frontage on the Nooksack River, costing just $4,000 at the time. Hakan then began the construction of the elaborate Hovander House and the 10,900-square-foot barn that stand on the property today. Hakan Hovander died in 1915, and his wife died in 1936; she left the land to their son, Otis, who sold it to Whatcom County Parks in 1969.