#7 NW Front Street
Coupeville, Washington

Howell's / Pearl's / Mitchell's / Quinn's / Handbag Consignment / Marbly

#7 Front Street was built in 1936 after the Good Templars' Hall was razed and Tom Howell had to move to a new location for his barber business. The building was large enough for him to add, as a sideline, radios and refrigerators for sale. His daughter, Ellen Howell, ran her beauty shop with him for a short time also. There is no record of any other building on this site before 1936.

Ironically the Central Hotel, which was next to the Templar building and had taken it over, was burned in 1945. It was actually burned twice that year and was then removed after the second burn.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Ilah Engom in 2009

East of the Central Hotel was Howell's. Tom had a barber shop on the right side, and his daughter, Ellen, had a beauty shop on the left. My son was afraid of anybody in a white coat because of a hospital stay. I remember Tom would take off his white coat so my son wouldn't be afraid. Tom Howell's son, Jack, married Annie Hesselgrave's sister.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Jean Sherman in 2009

In the next building was Tom Howell's barbershop. I went to school with his daughter, Ellen Howell. She graduated from high school in 1935, married an Army officer and left the island. Vera Nicole was a beauty operator in the early 40s. Her sister was Lois Hanson.

Tom Howell and Vera Barber had a barber and beauty shop in #7 Front Street. When you went to Vera Barber's beauty shop she gave you a permanent with the big machine. There were cords that came down. She must have rolled your hair on rods and then something would clamp onto those for heat and then it would go szzzzzz. Scary.
*Interview with Carol Thraikill

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Leone Argent in 2010

Tom Howell had the building next door built. It had two sections with his barbershop on one side and on the other his daughter, Ellen, had the beauty shop for several years. She did my hair. Then she met a soldier and got married and left the island. She returned years later and lived with her mother in Oak Harbor. Mrs. Patton was in the beauty shop after Ellen.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Joanne Engle Brown in 2008

Tom Howell had the next building built. He was a barber. He wife was a Clark. There were a lot of soldiers that stayed here. The other half was the beauty shop. Vera Nichols was one of the beauticians. Her family lived on Fort Casey Road.
*Interview with Joanne Engle Brown

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Lyla Snover in 2009

Tom Howell, the barber, was my buddy. He was a nice man who lived near us on the corner of 4th and Center. Every time I went by Howell's Barber Shop, I ran in and hollered, "Hi Bunny!" and ran down the other stairs. I don't remember why.

Vera Barber had a beauty shop in the building across from Toby's (#7 Front Street). It was both a barber and beauty shop. It had two doors. She was a nice lady but you had to get her out of the tavern to get your hair cut. In the 1940s, she lived at the Krueger farm house upstairs. One of the Race family lived there. I babysat for Vera Barber's kids.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Mike Sullivan in 2009

Across from Toby's Tom Howell had a barber shop. Tom Howell's wife, Emma, was my father's sister. Tom got mad at me when I got haircuts because I couldn't sit still. The Howells later moved to Oak Harbor.

Howell sold the building and the business to Lois Hansen in 1945 for her beauty shop.

She sold out in 1968 and a variety of shops and businesses have occupied it since.

In 1970, the younger Stewart brother, Dave, owned "Pearl's" where he served soup and sandwiches. Pearl was the Stewart brothers' aunt.

Pearl's Restaurant
Pearl's Restaurant with the Robertson House and the Glenwood Hotel to the left (East)
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville
Pearl's Restaurant
Pearl's Restaurant. Note the phone booth on the right
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Roger Eelkema in 2009

The next building once housed "Pearl's", a restaurant. We have the sign because my mother's name was Pearl Eelkema.

Pearl's Restaurant
"Pearl's" Restaurant with seasonal wreaths
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Rose Brosseau in 2009

We have lived on the Island since 1970. We lived in Seattle and [were] on a trip here exploring the Island. We drove down side roads and discovered Coupeville. There was a cute little restaurant called "Pearl's". I dragged Mahlon there and he fell in love with it too. Mickey [Becker] and Holace [Perry] owned the Old Town Shop, and they encouraged us to start a business. Other people wanted us to go to Langley. "Pearl's" was owned and operated by the younger Stewart brother. They served soup and sandwiches. Pearl was the Stewart brothers' aunt and the shop was named for her. That was July, 1970.

[During the early 1970's] a gay couple rented "Pearl's" as a weekend place. One of them wore floral overalls. Betty McPhee had trouble with that. He was the publicity person for the Seattle Center. He was a colorful character that came and went in the early 1970s. They lived there before Mrs. Mitchell had her antique Haviland China shop in that building.

Lois Mitchell opened the "Haviland Antique" shop that was famous for it's china in the 1970's.

Antique Store with china in the window
Courtesy: Ebey's Landing Building and Landscape Inventory, 1983

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Phyllis Jackson in 2009

The building next door, Mitchell's Antiques, had lots of china. If you needed matches for sets of china, they had it. Mrs. Mitchell had the china shop before I opened my shop.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Mickey Becker in 2008

Frank and Lois Mitchell owned the antique shop across the street [Howell's building] and sold china. They could match any set. I remember I bought a triple flour sifter from her.

Mitchell's Antiques
Mitchell's Antiques
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

In 1998 Shelby and Kathleen Quinn opened "Front Street Antiques". The Antique store was modified during the shooting of the movie Practical Magic described during the following interview.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Millie Fonda in 2008

Judy: Warner Brothers produced Practical Magic here on Front Street. What was that like?

Millie: We had a great time. I have a drawing by the set designer of the movie of the front of this building. There was several months of negotiating with local businesses before they started. In April 1998, they painted the buildings on the whole street white and redesigned it as a New England town. [After filming] we chose our colors and they had the buildings painted again. Our business, Penn Cove Antiques, would rent things to them and they would buy things from us and would return them but wouldn't take the money back. We were on a first name basis. When it was over, we had a big party on the deck for everyone who was involved with it. I have lots of pictures. The movie stared Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing, and Aidan Quinn.

At the same time Universal was doing the movie, Snow Falling on Cedars, with Ethan Hawk at the Ebey Ferry House. We sold a lot of things for the inside of the house where they were filming.

Years later people still came back and asked, "Is this where they filmed Practical Magic?" It was well received in Japan and we had many Japanese visitors who came here to visit the spot where Practical Magic was made.

The designer created a gate between Captain's Galley and our building. Before that, people would come off the street into our private space. They designed a gate I wanted. They put pillars from the overhang for the movie but had to remove them due to town ordnance. We were closed, and they compensated us, and it was a fair compensation. They didn't pay us for cost of goods but paid for our profit margin. Everyone was paid, but we were paid more than average because they bought items from us. Sandra Bullock bought all kinds of great antiques from Quinn's Antiques.

We just had great fun with it and enjoyed seeing how a movie is being made. I was paid $50 per day for being an extra, for doing nothing. A lot of friends came from Seattle and watched from our building. The staging for extras was in the Captain's Galley (John Robertson's Store).

1998 - A permit was granted to restore the siding.

2000 - Seawitch Architectural Interiors owned by Gisele Paris had an office in the building.

2003 - Pamela Wrona and Kristi Waterman opened "Door 2 Door Interiors". It sold home decor and provided interior design services.

2005 - Molly and Larry Hughes bought he building. "Door 2 Door Interiors" continued to do business at #7 for a couple of years.

2007 - Geisel Paris opened "Seawitch Architectuals" to provide architectural services and sold antiques and consignment art.

2009 - "The Tea Shop", operated by Roland Petrov, opened and sold teas, tea related foods, candles, and bath products.

2011 - -Dianne Nootenboom and Brenda Marti opened "The Vintage Perch" and sold home decor, jewelry, and consignment clothing.

2013 - Kimberly Hoctor opened the "Handbag Consignment Shop" and sells gently used designer handbags, shoes, and jewelry.

In 2013 The ownership of the building was transferred to Molly Hughes.

Handbag Consignment Shop
Handbag Consignment Shop
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick, 2013

2016 - Handbag Consignment Shop moves to #23 Front changes name to Posh - Upscale Retail.

2018 - The Building is under renovation by a new owner.

2019 - renovated 2018/19 and then opens as Marbly in the Summer. Sales of Ebru Art silk scarves (customer or shop made), beautiful and useful personal and gift items. Art of water marbling at our coastal studio & material culture mercantile.

Courtesy: Gwen Samelson, 2019
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick, 2019

* All the interviews are extracted from the Judy Lynn's Oral History Project. Judy Lynn interviewed everyone she could find who had any memories of the history of Front Street. For more information on the project contact the Whidbey Island Historical Musem, Coupeville.

The e-book Front Street, Coupeville - An Oral History by Judy Lynn contains all the interviews. It can be purchased for $9.99 at Amazon.com for Kindle application or device or from the Apple Store for iBooks applications. Proceeds go to the Island County Historical Society.

Oral History Cover