NW Front Street
Coupeville, Washington

Library / Town Hall

The building was probably built around 1896.

Library / town Hall
Library / Town Hall
Courtesy: Robert Cushen (Private Collection)

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with James Arnold, 2009

Judy: Tell me about the building that had been next to the Knead and Feed.

Jim: There was a third building. The library was in a building where the town deck is now. The deck was put on the footings where that building had been.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Malcolm Bishop, 2007

Judy: Have you heard that there was a building where the deck is now, next to the Knead and Feed?

Malcolm: Yes, from years ago conversations I heard it was a library and town hall. I think one moved out before the other. I think it was damaged in a fire that caused it to be torn down. All the buildings were all heated by wood in early years.

Library from Wharf
The Library as seen from Robertson's Wharf. It is the light colored building in front of the tall Glenwood Hotel.
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville
Library during a water festival.
The Library is on the right during the 1942 water festival. Note the two pumps in front of #8 (now Toby's.)

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Josephine DeVries, 2009

I also worked in the library on Front Street.

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

Diane: In 1973 I was teaching in Oak Harbor and I remember going to the Seagull and having lunch.

The next building was where the Town Hall and Library were. It was dark and dingy. I checked out books but didn't like being there. I liked when they moved to the current town hall building and the library had light.

Library / Town Hall
Library / Town Hall with Ilah Engom's car in foreground
Courtesy: Ilah Engom (Private Collection)

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Lillian Huffstetler, 2010

Judy: What else do you remember about Front Street?

Lillian: Not a great deal. I remember the library. We went there occasionally. The first book I got was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I remember the Daughters of Pioneers. They have a red plaid dress that had been a wedding dress. The women didn't wear white dresses to get married in because they were not practical. They couldn't be worn again.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Nancy Hurd Napier, 2010

Daddy was a councilman for the town. They met in a little building that was the library building.

Library / Town Hall on Front Street
Library / Town Hall on Front Street. Note the the Tavern (now Toby's) has one gas pump. The street is still unpaved. Probably taken in the early 1950s
Courtesy: Ilah Engom (Private Collection)

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

Across the street from the Calhoun (Glenwood) Hotel was the library and in the east building (Sedge building) was a beauty parlor. The owner had nearly had an accident and she hired me to drive her to and from home, near Ault Field, in her blue Thunderbird every day.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Leone Argent, 2009

Next to the (Circuit) theater was a bakery owned by Bill Byrd's mother. Mrs. Black was Bill's grandmother, and her daughter had the little bakery on Front Street (before Wilheights' owned the building.) Mrs. Black was the librarian and lived in the Wilheight home. She had beautiful white hair worn all done up. I remember the back corner of the library with the kids books. When there was snow we rode our sleds down the hill. On the front of the building, on the north side of the street, below the windows, there were little boards and our sled went down through the boards one time. We would usually turn left and go down Front Street. Later, when I was in high school, Mrs. Black would put on this big kettle of hot chocolate in her home. She would say, "Come in and get warm". We would go in, all snow and she would say, "Don't worry. It will melt and I can clean it up".

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Joan and Jack McPherson, 2010

Joan: I have heard that many years ago the library building, located on the waterfront side of Front Street across from our building, was pushed onto the beach and into the water in 1959 by the mayor at the time (Ralph Ward). I heard he got on his tractor with his front loader and pushed the building into the water. That was told to me as fact but I don't know if it is true. There was some kind of controversy going on at the time and they say he got rid of the library to settle the matter. That is how we have the public deck and stairs on Front Street (next to the Sedge Building.) Now the town also owns the waterfront lot between the public deck and Toby's Tavern and there are plans to expand the deck in the future. It should be a lovely and large place for people to enjoy the view of Penn Cove.

Judy: Then there is the story about how Ed Spromberg, when he was mayor and he used a tractor and personally pulled out the posts that Randy Duggan had put in front of his newly remodeled Mariner's Court (Cushen Garage building). Spromberg reportedly said "This isn't a western town."

Joan: People were upset by that and that was part of the reason they started a recall on Mayor Spromberg after Spromberg fired a well-regarded Chief of Police, Ed Short. Ed Spromberg was mayor from November 1971 to March 1975.

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

There was a building where the town deck is that used to be the city library and town hall. It was torn down by Mayor Ward. He wanted it torn down because the town owned it. When Ted Christianson moved his pharmacy to Main Street he said "Old ladies used to own those buildings" (Holace Perry and Mickey Becker.) Mayor Ward was determined to bulldoze down Front Street. Up until a few years ago, where the town deck is, the library board had control over the deck. The materials for the first deck were donated by the (Arts and Crafts) festival committee. Del Bennett headed up that group. I told Nancy Conard about the library having control of the deck when they were going to do the latest remodel of the deck. I noticed that she had that changed so that the town now has control over the city deck.

In 1959 The building was bulldozed by the town mayor, Ralph Ward. Apparently he had hoped to remove all the buildings on the north side of the street.

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

The Town Hall and Library were there. (Note: the building was where the current deck to the lower level of the Knead and Feed is now.) I remember Town Hall was next to the building where the Knead and Feed because Dad was on town council. One night I had to get stitches because I ran into a disc in the dark at Grandpa Jut's [Jut Hancock] place because we were shooting rats after dark with a .22. I had to run everywhere - I couldn't just walk. My arm was cut but I wasn't going to the doctor without telling my Dad. Grandpa stopped there to see my dad then took me to Doctor Carskadden in Oak Harbor who put in only five stitches in this long cut. (Note: you can still see the scar on Lyla's arm.) When he took the stitches out it opened up and he stitched it again with the same four stitches. I was probably about eight years old.

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

I vaguely remember the library next to the building where the Knead and Feed gift shop is. The town hall was above it. I remember going to the library and checking out books. I was slower in school than my brother and my mother was interested in me improving myself and doing library stuff - reading books from the library. The librarian's name was Mrs. Black.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Doug Kroon

When we remodeled [Kneed & Feed], the city wanted to put in the deck. It's a right-of-way because the city had used the stairs for years. The property though was still owned by the library board. The deed was in the library board's name.

town deck
The deck where the Library / Town Hall once stood
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick
town deck
Ghost Library - Ralph Ward memorial Library?
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick

* 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