#21 NW Front Street
Coupeville, Washington

Island County Abstract Office / Ice Cream Store

1890 - The building was constructed in 1890 on a site further east on Front Street where it was a meat market run by Hull and Lang.

Meat Market
Meat Market of Hull and Lang in its original position west of the Central Hotel and the Temperance Hall before the Hotel and Hall were combined into the Central Hotel.
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

1891 - Mr. Craddock had his office in this building and had set up the abstract books for the county prior to the purchase of the lot and removal of the building.

In 1902 the land was sold to Sol Keister by Abram Alexander and then resold to Daniel Craddock in 1910. The building was relocated to the current site sometime after that. Craddock was County Attorney 1913 - 1914.

Island County Abstract Office
Island County Abstract Office on Front Street
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

From "A Particular Friend, Penn's Cove" by Jimie Jean Cook, 1973

ISLAND COUNTY ABSTRACT OFFICE

Another parcel of land transferred by Abram Alexander to Sol Keister in 1902 was the site of the abstract office. It was sold to a lawyer, Daniel W. Craddock, in 1910. He was an abstractor and in 1913-14 was the County Attorney. Prior to that he had been the Justice of Peace for the precinct.

In August 1919, Craddock sold the building and set of books to Luther Weedin, the price being shown as $10 for each. Mrs. Helen Craddock Barrett remembers that this little building was moved from its original position west of the Central Hotel to this site. This would have been the meat market run by Hull and Lang which was built in 1890.

On March 2, 1891, the insurance premium was raised for the county offices then occupying the Good Templars hall because the meat market was an additional exposure. The same month the partners were paid $10 for furnishing meat to George Perego and at the same time, James Gillespie was paid for a similar service. Mr. Craddock had his office in this building and had set up the abstract books for the county prior to the purchase of the lot and removal of the building.

Luther Weedin had been the Sheriff of Island County from 1899-1902, the Assessor from 1905-1908 and the Treasurer one term, 1909-10.

McCurdy's maritime history relates that the small revenue cutter Guard patrolled Puget Sound primarily in an effort to discourage the smuggling of wool, opium and the Chinese into the United States. Her efforts were augmented during the year 1899 by the election of Luther Weedin, Coupeville lumberman, as sheriff who declared war on the smugglers and waterfront pirates who had made the isolated San Juans their headquarters. He eventually succeeded in breaking up the notorious smuggling headquarters that had existed for years on Ben Ure's island in Deception Pass.

The jail register in 1902 listed Benjamin Ure as a native of Scotland who spoke with a noticeable brogue and who, at the age of 72, was considered to be a fellow who had kept a resort for smugglers in old times. The charge against him that year was for receiving stolen goods.

Weedin was later U.S. Commissioner of Immigration for Puget Sound from 1921 until 1933. He operated the real estate and abstract office until his death in 1942 and it was continued by his widow, Athaleen Harrington Weedin, until the building and books were sold to Lawrence Fick of Oak Harbor in 1957.

1919 - The building and set of books were sold to Luther Weedin, sheriff of the county.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Charles Lindsay, 2010

Charlie: Dorothy Hawkenberry ran the county Land Assay and Title Company in the building next to Mariner's Court (Island County Abstract Office).

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

The next building (currently Kapaws Ice Cream) was the Island County Abstract Office. Mrs. Hockenberry worked there. When we bought our house she did the business for us.

1942 - Luther Weedin died. The Abstract and real estate office was continued by his widow, Athaleen Warrington Weedin.

1957 The building and books were sold to Lawrence Fick of Oak Harbor

Late 1950s and early 1960s - Archie Poor had a Barber shop in the building and had a barber's pole outside.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Diane and Roger Eelkema, 2009

Roger: Archie Poor was the barber in what is now the ice cream shop. He had a speech impediment (cleft palette) and talked funny. But for a haircut you either went to him or Pat Flannery's at Prairie Center. Flannery had a temper and if there was something that happened before you got there he would tell you to get out. Or you went to Archie and you didn't know what kind of a haircut you'd get.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Roger Sherman, 2010

Archie Poor was a barber but I don't know why he stayed there. Nobody would go to him. He gave terrible haircuts and he was liable to cut you with a straight razor.

1963 - Mrs Whelan, mother of Paul Whelan, bought the building from Lawrence P. McCormick.

1969 - The Stewart Brothers opened Wet Whisker Ice Cream. They started Stewart Brothers coffee company in this building, roasting beans.

Wet Whiskers
Wet Whiskers is the building on the right
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Paul Whelan, 2008

My mother bought the ice cream shop building in 1963 from Lawrence P. McCormick. I don't know why she did but suppose she bought it so both Peter and I would both have a building. She was interested in the revitalization of Front Street and was involved in the arts and crafts festival when it was started. She saw a future for Front Street and saw it as a worthwhile investment. I think she paid $3,000 for it. I remember telling my brother, when the Johnson's were taking care of it, that she should sell it to them. They were worth $5,000. I was shocked when I found out what they were worth. Neither of us thought about moving back here.

Peter never moved back here. He was in Morris, Minnesota at the University of Minnesota at Morris, a public liberal arts college. He was a geology professor.

Judy: What can you tell me about the ice cream shop building(Island County Abstract)?

Paul: My mother bought the building in 1963. I don't know what was in there. I think Archie Poor had a barber shop in the building and he lived in the back. In 1968 the Johnson's started taking care of it. They rented it to Jim Stewart who wanted to earn some money for college. So he opened it up as a seasonal ice cream shop. He eventually put in coffee beans and named it the Wet Whisker, named for his cat Henry. Then he opened a Wet Whisker at the Seattle Center. His brother Dave worked with him and they kept it for some time. I think until 1976. They subleased the building in the winter. The first video store in Coupeville was there.

Jim and Dave eventually called their business Stewart Brother's Coffee. As they continued to increase the number of their shops they changed the name to SBC because someone else was using the other name nationally. After winning a contest for Seattle's Best Coffee they changed the name to that. A few years ago Seattle's Best Coffee was sold to Starbucks.

The Stewart brothers sold the Front Street business to the Brown family. Their daughter, Kristen Brown was a student in high school, opened Kristen's Ice Cream for money to go to college. With the money we received in rent we put the foundation under the building.

She had it until Neal Amtman opened his ice cream shop. He was there for 15 years. Before moving to Front Street he operated the Hole in the Wall (take and bake) Pizza in an old garage by the court house. He named it after a shop he'd seen in Colorado or New Mexico - not because there was a hole in the wall in the ice cream shop - although there was. He bought the ice cream business from the Brown's. At the time there were 3 or 4 ice cream places downtown.

Karen and I started coming out in the summers for a month or two in 1996 and we lived in a cabin next to our house (on Rhodena). We had to fix the cabin. We would stay there and hang around town. In 2001 we were talking to Neal and we mentioned that if he was interested in selling the business to let us know - maybe Karen would be interested. A week or two before we left he let us know it was his last year and wondered if we were interested in buying. We had never run a business before. We talked to the SCORE guy in town and went to Mt Vernon to the business resource center and worked out a deal to buy the business. Then we went back to Indiana.

The business was ours officially in January 2002. Karen was teaching - a Resource Special Education teacher in high school. The agreement was that Neal would open the business in the spring and we would come in June and he would work for us for a couple of weeks so we could learn the ice cream business. We began scooping mid -June 2002 and we've been at it since. Neal said several times that he missed chatting with all the people. He went and helped his wife Carole at Tartans and Tweeds. People still come in and ask about Neal.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Joan Wieringa, 2009

The Stewart Brothers, (who went on to start Seattle's Best Coffee), started the Wet Whisker Ice Cream Shop (Island County Abstract Office). We claimed the Wet Whisker was the end of our sweet little dog McTavish. Doug recalls Mac begging ice cream cones off tourists—she never ate the cone—just licked out the ice cream—a healthy dog diet. She was a town dog, freely roaming Front Street.

Wet Whiskers Logo
Wet Whiskers Logo

From the web site of www.washintoncco.com December 2001 issue of Washington CEO.

Jim Stewart, founder of Seattle Coffee Company

If there is a pioneer of Puget Sound's specialty coffee craze, it would probably be Jim Stewart.

The silver-haired laid-back Wisconsin-born entrepreneur with a deep love for the coffee experience first started roasting and selling his own coffee in the late 1960s from his cafe, the Wet Whisker in Coupeville on Whidbey Island.

Later, Stewart formed Stewart Brothers Coffee and was one of the first to set up coffee cafes in Seattle. From those humble beginnings has come Seattle's Best Coffee, one of the nation's top three specialty coffee companies by size. It has more than 140 cafes, thousands of places selling its coffee, and a corporate parent with big plans for SBC's future growth.

Ironically, Stewart couldn't stand coffee when he left Wisconsin for college in the late 1960s. It was a single cup of coffee that would change Stewart's life and help build an industry.

That was until he went to The Coffee Bean in Brentwood, Calif., and was treated to a freshly brewed cup of coffee from proprietor Alan McKay. Stewart's palate rejoiced and a light went on. Stewart decided to shift from optometry to being a coffee vendor and went to work at the cafe, learning his first lessons in making and roasting coffee.

That was 1969. Later that year, Stewart bought a 12-pound roaster from a peanut vendor on a beach in Southern California and hauled it up to the Wet Whisker, his ice cream and coffee shop in Coupeville on Whidbey Island.

By the summer of 1970, Stewart had sold nearly 500 pounds of his own Wet whisker coffee. He sold his shop in Coupeville, moved to the Seattle and opened a cafe with Dave, his brother, called Stewart Brothers Coffee.

In the 1980s, Stewart moved the coffee-roasting facility to Vashon Island, where all the company's coffee is still roasted today. The company also maintains a kitchy mini-museum for true coffee aficionados.

The company changed its name to SBC in 1988 after running into problems with another coffee company named Stewart. Three years later, SBC was named "Seattle's Best Coffee" by a local magazine's readers, prompting Stewart to change the name again.

Note from Paul Whelan:
A couple of things that may be of interest: The first roaster Jim used, he refers to it as a peanut roaster, is at the Island County Museum.
The Mayor declared August 27, 2012 as Jim and Dave Stewart Day in Coupeville. A reception and oral history was held in the Rec Hall. There was an overflowing crowd with people coming from as far away as Connecticut.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Jeanette Kroon Omar, 2009

We were friends of the Stewart Brothers who owned the Wet Whisker. He started doing coffee there because he smelled cinnamon rolls and people weren't coming in for ice cream. They started roasting coffee because of Knead and Feed cinnamon rolls. Dave lives in Snohomish. I used to see them on Pier 70 in Seattle. They started a Wet Whisker there too. They were into homemade peanut and cashew butter. Not really in coffee yet.

Coffee
Coffee. Note that the building is low to the ground here. The building was raised and got a new foundation around 1983.
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

1974 (or 76) - Kristen Brown opened the Ice Cream Parlor and More. Sunset Home Video may also have used the building during the winters when ice cream was not so popular. The building was rented by Kristin Brown.

1982 - The building was raised three feet off the ground, a concrete foundation placed beneath, and new front stairs were constructed.

Kristen's
Kristen's Ice Cream with new Foundation and steps
Courtesy: Ebey's Landing Building Inventory

1987 - Hole in the Wall was run by Neal Amtmann

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Shirley Bennett and Rose Brosseau, 2008

Rose: I remember the Wet Whisker, run by the Stewart Brothers who branched out into coffee roasting eventually, making it big with Seattle's Best Coffee. Later that was the Hole in the Wall ice cream. (Island County Abstract Office.)

1998 - The building was repainted for the movie Practical Magic.

2002 - Paul & Karen Whelan opened Kapaw's Iskreme.

2009 - The Whelan's sold the business to Joel and Lorene Norris.

Kapaw's Iskreme
Kapaw's Iskreme
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick, 2013

* 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. I 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