#17 NW Front Street
Coupeville, Washington

Judge Still's Law Office / The Cove / Briggs Shore Ceramics

1905 - Lester Still purchased the parcel of land.

1909 - Mr. Jacob Straub, a blacksmith, constructed the building which was used as a law office by Judge Lester Still. There was also a "commodious consultation office" for A.N. Corbin in the back.

Lester Still Office
Lester Still's Office - the light building to the left of the telegraph pole
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

A news item of 1909 says that "A. N. Corbin will occupy the new building constructed by Mr. Straub, a law office having a front office facing the bay and a commodious consultation office." See also #15 Front Street on this site.

1913 - The building was sold to Ralph Moorman. He was referred to as the philandering barber because he was expelled by the Masons for philandering with his teenage baby-sitter.

1916 - The building became the office of James Zylstra, attorney.

Zylstra office
James Zylstra in front of his office.
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

*Interview by Judy Lynn with Carol Thrailkill, 2009:

On the corner of Front and Alexander was the Sorgenfrei's garage. Island Abstract was where the ice cream store is. The Island County Times was in the building that is now McGregor's. Next was Jim Zylstra's Law Office.

*Interview by Judy Lynn with Larry Zylstra, 2010:
[Note: Larry Lysle Zylstra passed away November 22, 2010, one month after this interview. The interview was edited and approved by his son, Gregg Zylstra.]

Judy: I understand you are the grandson of James Zylstra, the attorney who had offices on Front Street. What do you know about him?

Larry: James Zylstra was born in 1877 in Friesland, Holland. He and his family moved to South Dakota and then to Whidbey Island in 1896. He attended the Coupeville Academy and then he later took a correspondence law course from a school back east and passed the bar in 1905. James became a registered voter in Island county in 1898. He was Island County Prosecuting Attorney for a lot of years. He was mayor of Coupeville, and was on the school board. He became a county clerk, and was a state representative from 1919 to 1922. He had a private law practice in Coupeville, and another in Oak Harbor, on the south side of Pioneer Way.

[Note: Refer to "James Zylstra" biography by Luella May Zylstra Pierce.]

He enjoyed golfing. His house [the Zylstra house] was across from where the courthouse is now. That was an open field in those days. He'd hit golf balls across the field toward the church and we kids would chase the balls. We played softball and baseball in that field too.


Judy: Tell me about his (Jim Zylstra's) first law office, the one across from the bank in East Coupeville.

Larry: I remember very little about it. He wasn't in there very long before he moved downtown. (Note: the address of the first office is 6 NE Front and the second 17 NW Front.) After grandpa had moved out it became Dr. Chafey's office. I was taken to Dr. Chafey. Right inside the door was a glass jar with all day suckers. After you saw the doctor, you could have an all day sucker. It was a real small building which is why he took his office downtown.

Judy: What do you remember about his office at 17 NW Front Street?

Larry: It had both upstairs and down. I was only in it a couple of times. I remember all the law books…hundreds of them it seemed like. And he had duplicates of everything in his Oak Harbor office. He had a lot of clients over the years that paid him in chickens or a pig or corn. There was a lot of bartering. With five kids that came in handy. The upstairs of the office was just books. He could keep his references up there. Downstairs was a desk and chair, and a bench that held three people. He did most of his work with clients there. It was a pretty small building too.

In those days when I was in grade school we had 300 people in Coupeville and 700 in Oak Harbor. We had 62 kids in four grades of high school. I graduated in a class of 11 in 1954.

1954 - Alden Whelan had a law office in the building, briefly.

Afterwards, Bill Pinkston sold rocks and shells. The Chamber of Commerce was also in the building.

*Interview by Judy Lynn with Paul Whelan, 2008:

Judy: How did you happen to come to live on Whidbey Island?

Paul W: The prosecutor in 1942 had resigned and the commissioners had to find another. My dad was an attorney in Everett and they appointed him to be prosecutor. My father, brother Peter, and mom moved to the island in 1942. My mom was pregnant with me.


My dad bought Jim Zylstra's building. I have paperwork. That first happened in 1948 but apparently wasn't completed until 1953. Maybe Zylstra was still practicing law. They might have been the only 2 attorney's on the island at that time. Zylstra must have stayed there until 1953 or 1954.

At that time the prosecutor's job was part time. My dad was in the older court house that is still here in the upper left hand office. He had his own practice and it was out of the same office.

I delivered papers to the jail and I remember bars on the windows but they were open. Once in awhile someone would ask for a paper.

Judy: Why did your father buy the building?

Paul W: I don't know. I suppose he was looking forward that he could use his own law office. It was Judge Still's office. He opened a law office. There was an interesting case of a boy on the south-end of the island and a lady that had been murdered. The boy had been working there and he was arrested for the murder. My dad refused to prosecute him because he didn't think he had done it. Tom Clark, the sheriff and my dad both lost in the primary. The next sheriff - did a further investigation and they found the boy didn't do it. Instead the murderer was a transient. My dad died in 1954, before it was known.

He had started to open his office on Front Street, My mother's sister, Frances Williams' husband - my Uncle Tracy was the town attorney for Port Townsend. Tracy said he would move over here and would take over my dad's law office. They lived in Judge Still's house - the red one on the corner of Front and Coveland. He was there for a year or two in the office on Front Street. Then they went to California and he was a Judge Advocate at Fort Ord.

Then Bill Pinkston might have been the next person there. He had the Chamber of Commerce and his stuff for sale.

*Interview by Judy Lynn with Shirley Bennett and Rose Brosseau, 2008:

Shirley: Bill Pinkston had the shell shop down the street. I remember it as grey, no paint, kind of like a ghost town although we were aware there were businesses.

*Interview by Judy Lynn with Lyle and Millie Fonda, 2008:

Judy: What memories do you have of other business owner on the street?

Millie: We stayed at the Coupeville Inn. The Hole in the Wall, owned by Neil Amtmann, was in the Ice Cream shop (Island County Abstract Office). The Shell Shop (Judge Still Law Office) was dark and full of stuff. We met Jan McGregor and George Lloyd. The liquor store was in the old Laundromat building. John and I relished in the activities around that. The Penn Cove Gallery was in the John Robertson House building.

*Interview by Judy Lynn with Doug Kroon, 2009:

Judy: Who else do you remember on Front Street when you were growing up?

Doug: Bill Pinkston sold shells in the McPherson (Glenwood Hotel) building and then in the building where Mariti Chocolate is now (Judge Still Law Office). Bill was gone when I started the business here. He had the Chamber of Commerce in his building as well.

1970s - The Cove owned by Lorna Doone Cate. She sold jewelry and gifts.

The Cove
The Cove
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

1996 - The foundation was replaced and the building renovated by Peter Whelan and his brother - An apartment was installed upstairs.

1998 - The building was used as the construction office for all the work that was done on Front Street for the Movie Practical Magic.

The building as a construction office
The building as a construction office
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

1999 - The Mariti Chocolate Co. opened.

Mariti Chocolate.
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick. 2013

2014 - Mariti closes in August.

2014 - Emilys Sweets & Treats opens in November.

Emilys Sweets & Treats
Emilys Sweets & Treats.
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick. 2014

2017 - Emily's closes.

The Building is in private hands with no retail store.

2020 - Briggs Shore opens Briggs Shore Ceramics. It has a pottery wheel and sells ceramic products. Her studio is near Coveland on Penn Cove.

Briggs Shore Ceramics
Briggs Shore Ceramics
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick. 2020

Briggs Shore Ceramics
New historical plaque
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick. 2020

* 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