One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The old adage remains true for one Lewis County landmark — the iconic Yard Bird.
As the 1970s structure deteriorated, the bird’s owner decided to tear it down.
“It was just an eyesore,” said Darris McDaniel, who owns the structure along with the Yard Birds Mall and Shop-N-Kart. “It’s crumbling from inside.”
That’s when Centralia native Jason Mattson stepped in to save the bird.
“Growing up around here it’s been part of my life,” the 36-year-old said. “It’s just something unique and cool about our town.”
Mattson has been working for the last four years to raise money to restore the bird. With just $8,000 left to go, good news came this weekend when McDaniel announced he’d donate $6,000 and an additional $1,000 came in for the cause through the recent Miss Yard Bird Pageant.
Community members can contribute to the remaining $1,000 at a Security State Bank location or through the Yard Bird Facebook page, which has also become a hit with nearly 5,000 friends and more than 1,200 followers.
“It turned out to be an online museum of Yard Bird memories,” said Mattson, the page’s creator. “So many people grew up with Yard Birds.”
Mattson will start renovations on the bird in the next few weeks. He will strip the old fiberglass and replace it, restore the framework and reshape the structure with plywood.
Originally, the bird’s tail feathers opened to house a helicopter. The hangar sat on the east side of the mall’s parking lot from 1971 until 1976, when the 60-foot standing bird burned to the ground and the Yard Bird was moved into the current location to replace it.
The 40-foot-tall structure withstood floods and changes in ownership over the last four decades before becoming the two-time winner of Seattle King 5’s No. 1 roadside attraction.
“It’s a big, crazy sculpture in our town,” said Mattson, who has a tattoo of the bird on his forearm. “It’s our roadside attraction.”