#22 NW Front Street
Coupeville, Washington

Dryers / Livery Stable / Trader / Jennifer Ayers Therapist MSW LICSW / Vail's Wine Shop and Tasting Room

1889 - Coupeville Mill Co. was built. Its postition was to the east of the dryer about where the Front Street Grill is located at #20 Front Street.

Wood Mill
Coupeville Mill with Abram L. Alexander, Horace Holbrook, J.B. Libbey & Edward May in front.
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

1897 - Charles Terry built the Dryer. He shipped dried fruit and vegetables to the Alaska gold fields. Charles Terry also had a large orchard and hired local women to dry prunes for shipment to Alaskan miners.

Quoted from "A Particular Friend - Penn's Cove" by Jimmie Jean Cook.

In 1884 the Island News said, "We noticed on a box in front of one of our stores in town some choice Turkish prunes shipped via NPRR. Does it not seem a shame that such things must be brought hundreds of miles to be sold in a fruit country? Why don't some enterprising firm start a fruit drying establishment here on the Island. It abounds with small fruits. We think an enterprise of this kind would pay well."

Quoted from "How Coupeville Grew"

In 1889 the Coupeville Mill Co. owned by Abram L. Alexander, Horace Holbrook, J. B. Libbey, and Edward May stood here. The mill property was sold in 1897 for $600 to Charles T. Terry who heeded the words written thirteen years before and erected this building for a fruit dryer.

Potatoes, onions and other foods were processed for shipment to the Alaskan gold fields. It was a successful operation and employed local women who prepared the food for the dryer. There was also a cider mill run by steam. The building was sometimes referred to as "Prune Barn".

1907 - Charles Terry sold the building to Chancey Wildey who then sold it to James Gillespie.

1908 - Carl and Laurin Gillespie, sons of the butcher next door, opened a livery stable, renting out horses and carriages, and later cars.

Livery and Stable
Gillespie Brothers Livery and Feed Stable
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

Quoted from "A Particular Friend - Penn's Cove"

His sons, Carl and Laurin, established the Gillespie Brothers Livery and Feed Stable in 1908. It advertised "Draying done on short notice."

1916- 20 Carl Gillespie, liveryman, had a jitney service to Fort Casey and rented cars during the 1920s.

1941 - 1945 Elmer Calhoun used the building for storing grain.

1951 - 1955 Warren Lindsay bought the building for boat storage. He owned Lindsay's Marina across the street in the Mariner's Court building.

view from Central Hotel
View from the roof of the Central Hotel (Burned in 1945) of the Traders Wharf, Union Building (Destroyed), and the Still House that had been turned into a Meat Market (later moved to Coveland Street)
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

1968/1970- Lindsay's sold the building to Betty & Jack McPhee

1971- 1975 The McPhees remodeled the building and built a home upstairs on the water side and an apartment upstairs on the street side.

1977 - 1980 Marty McPhee opened and operated Harvey's Snack Shop.

1978 - Coupeville Travel Brokers moved in upstairs on the street side. It was run by Jan Chapman and Judy & Bob Abrams.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Jan Chapmen Rystrom in 2009

Judy: Would you tell me about how you started Coupeville Travel?

Jan: It was my dream. I had been working at Oak Harbor Travel for a number of years while I was putting myself through college. I was more and more engaged in the travel industry and was tired of doing it someone else's way. It was a different concept of travel agency.

Judy: How was it different?

Jan: Oh, it was geared toward military travelers. We were cranking out the same thing to the same military destinations. There was nothing creative and very little adventure.

I was interested in creating adventure travel. This was about the same time Rick Steves published his first Europe Through the Back Door books. We invited Rick Steves to do a public presentation in the Rec Hall in 1978. At the time his approach to travel was an amazing concept. At that time, adults who traveled to Europe were on a "grand tour," or the "If it's Tuesday it must be Belguim" tour. Only kids traveled with a backpack, or went in the Peace Corps. There was no such thing for North American adults as a trip with a minimal amount of luggage, a Eurail pass and hostel card. I credit Rick Steves for the change in travel philosophy and attitude.

I had met Judy and Bob Abrams through Oak Harbor Travel, where I was working. My husband, Rick, and I had them to dinner and they encouraged me to follow my bliss. We formed a partnership for a travel agency. I loved the idea of being in Coupeville and having the time and space to work with people to develop their adventures. We (Judy and Bob Abrams and I) opened our office above Traders Wharf (Terry's Dryer building) on the street side, in 1978. We rented a small apartment above the McPhee's antique shop (Traders Wharf).

Jack McPhee was a lovely curmudgeon not quite supportive, but glad to rent to us. The space was delightful with the million-dollar view, but it required a hike up a rickety set of stairs. It was not accessible for everyone. It was a pretty fun and exciting time. Judy was teaching math full time in Oak Harbor and Bob was the travel agent. He had traveled extensively and had been a college professor. He was at a place of life that he could take the time off to do it. That was a passion for him.

Judy: How did it go?

Jan: It was mixed and it was a hard time in the business. As a new travel agency we had to pay for all the tickets up-front and go to Seattle to buy them. It was called "Brown Bagging." We had to buy the tickets from the airline—that meant driving to Seattle to the airline ticket offices and weren't paid until the client paid us. It was an involved and expensive process. That was a struggle. People would come in and book all these tickets. They didn't know we had paid for them, and they would change their mind. We learned a lot.

Judy: What was it like being on Front Street?

Jan: I loved looking out at Penn Cove. Holace [Perry] and Mickey [Becker] were so lovely, welcoming and encouraging. Front Street wouldn't have been so enchanting without them. I still think of Michael Anter. [Michael's Your Place restaurant that was in Mariner's Court at the time]. I credit him for sharing wonderful food and energetic cooking. That launched my next career in nutrition and dietetics. I saw him creating beautiful and delicious food and I realized that people's health could be profoundly influenced by the foods they ate.

Judy: How long were you on Front Street?

Jan: Only about a year. We had a year lease. Then we moved to Grace and Coveland where it was much more accessible with more room.

Judy: How did you happen to sell Coupeville Travel to Jim Cline?

Jan: We had collectively decided to sell. There was no money in those days. I was not in a position with three kids to not have it a family income. I needed to make a living. Judy and Bob's relationship was in trouble and life was moving on.

Judy: What do you remember about the move?

Jan: It allowed the agency to expand because there was more workspace. I liked working with Jim and Judy Cline. Jim didn't know the travel industry, but they had a strategy and business experience. I was happy to turn over the reins to them. I was excited about what they had planned for it. We had another agent, a long-time client of mine from Oak Harbor, Jeri Yakovlef. She was very bright and had traveled domestically. Nobody had computers at home then and she learned it very quickly. She was ferocious about finding people good deals.

Judy: Did you get to take any trips?

Jan: I didn't travel very much. We got some good deals but the trips still required money and I had three little kids at home. I went into it too naïve about what it takes to run a business. The partnership had different goals and I had unrealistic expectations about having a career and making a living out of it.

Judy: What else do you remember about Front Street?

Jan: I loved Front Street. I remember when Cry for the Strangers was being filmed there, with Brian Keith and Patrick Duffy. They liked this funky little travel agency. I remember cringing when we saw the movie though.

My two tots, Kris and Kammie [Judy Abrams dubbed them "The K's"] went to Dorothy Lindsay's for child care. Kammie was not quite two and still not potty-trained. I sent her the first day with training pants and a stern lecture about using the bathroom. At the end of the day Grandma Dorothy calmly suggested that I bring her in diapers and said we'd "work on it." I still have a cable-knit sweater she made for Erik when he was born. Dorothy was so great, so patient and loving. (Note: Kammie just won two Kennedy Center Awards for her University of New Mexico Master of Fine Arts dissertation play "Deception Pass, An American Story."

1980 - Jim & Judy Cline bought Coupeville Travel.

1981/1982 - Cline's moved Coupeville Travel to Grace Street

1986 - Traders Wharf closed. The building was sold to Dan Beardslee who opened the Country Scoop Ice Cream & Yogurt

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with the Beardslees in 2009

Derek and Marjorie Brine were always supportive and nice. That building had been owned by Betty McPhee [Traders Wharf] and she was a character.

Judy: When did you buy the Terry's Dryer / Traders Wharf building?

Dan: I bought it in approximately 1986 from Betty McPhee. It was just about the time that her husband, Jack, died. I lived in the apartment they had on the waterside of the building for a number of years.

Traders Wharf
The building after the Union building and the Still house had gone. Note the grain elevator towers on the Coupeville Wharf.
From a contemporary local newspaper
Traders Wharf
Traders Wharf
From a contemporary local newspaper
Traders Wharf
The building (center) from the Coupeville Wharf at low tide.
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

1987- Dan Beardslee remodeled the building and opened The Party Works Sweet Shop. Also in the building was Rose Marti & Wendy Jarrell, and Irene Mueller's Country Cottage

1988 - In the building was The Party Works Sweet Shop, Nordic House, Penn Cove Gallery run by Barbara Lititle, and Nautical ‘N' Nice run by Derek and Marjorie Brine.

1989 - The building was Skipper & Crew run by DeWayne & Joan Hess, The Party Works Sweet Shop, Penn Cove Gallery, and Nautical ‘N' Nice which had expanded to include the Chowder Bar.

Building in 1989
The Building in 1989. Note the Food shack to the east (right) of the building where the Front Street Grill now stands at #20 Front Street.
from a photo taken by Air Photo, Inc.

*From an interview by Judy Lynn with Chuck and Sandy Poust in 2008

Chuck: In 1989 we were visiting Coupeville with our Olympia friends when we noticed the large "For Sale" sign on Millie's [Fonda] building [Coupeville Cash Store]. We called the listing realtor but she told us that property had been taken off the market but she knew of another one not yet listed. It was the [Gillespie] Livery [Terry's Dryer] and then the process began. Dan Beardslee was the owner and with our realtor's help we bought the building. We closed on the building January of 1990. So we owned the building without living here till 1997.

When I was in college I worked part-time for the town florist. We are still friends to this day. They moved the flower shop from the edge of town (with the greenhouses) to a building on the square of this southern Illinois town, Carlinville, the county seat of Macoupin County. They converted the second floor of the building into a beautiful apartment and had their business on the ground floor. We were always impressed with the simplicity and convenience of that arrangement. With the second-floor apartment in the Livery Building I felt there was a plan falling into place for our future. The bonus of this arrangement is that even if we are gone for an extended period of time, there will be tenants on the ground floor and they will monitor the health of the building and keep an eye on things in general. And for the 6 plus years we could not be here, the tenants did an admirable job of keeping us posted about the building.

When we purchased the building the tenants were Skipper and Crew, The Sweet Shop, Nautical n Nice and Marcon International in the second floor office space. Dan Beardslee lived in the apartment with his new wife Theresa. Theresa was a Coupeville girl. That is all I know about her. They moved to Pateros, Washington and Dan sold his business, Datum Pacific, to Don Dunsmore. Shortly after Dan sold the business (and the building) he and Theresa moved out and Don Dunsmore moved in. Don was a good tenant for all those years till I "evicted" him so we could move into the apartment. He's told me more than once that if we ever move out he wants first chance to move back in!!! He loved the space. Dan's Datum Pacific business was located in one of the Victorian houses on Main Street, two doors south of the Methodist Church. I'm told that Coupeville Travel's first office was upstairs in the office space Marcon occupied when we purchased the building. The original plan for that space was a space for the McPhee's mother but the kitchen was never installed to my knowledge—just the bathroom. Dan Beardslee bought this building from Jack and Betty McPhee and it was filled with antiques and junk. There were old cars parked out front on the apron. Originally the building was one large barn-like space. The McPhee's built the second floor. Jack was diabetic and the plumbing for the kidney machine is still visible in the walls. Rumor is the police (Chuck Charleton) helped carry Jack up and down the stairs. The remodel into a living space seems to have been done in the 1970s judging from the harvest gold fixtures and dark wood work everywhere. My brother (a builder in Pennsylvania) helped us move and he pronounced the workmanship upstairs to be first quality and it has held up well. Dan Beardslee extended the decking around the building and made it accessible to all the shops along the length of the entire building.

We moved here January 2, 1997. On our frame shop wall are two pictures of the building, one taken in 1965 and one fairly recently. There is no deck and no windows which proves the remodel was done in the 1970s. In the attic I found the old "Traders Wharf" sign—cut into strips to be used as flooring. We also have an oil painting of the building showing the front of the place as "Traders Wharf." Someone gave us the painting.

Judy: How did you decide the name of the business?

Chuck: We arrived at the name for the business, "The Windjammer Gallery and Custom Framing," after much stress and fretting. Our other frame shop and store in Illinois was called "A Frame Shop and More." We didn't want this location to be too keyed to picture framing. It was troublesome coming up with our new name. We knew the name of the business is important and we wanted to get it registered, to get our licenses and be ready once we knew we were moving west. The clock was ticking. We opened the gallery in March of 1997 and the frame shop opened in May 1997. Coming up with our "ship" logo was equally stressful.

In our store in Illinois we often carried the work of northwest artists, so we would have something different from our competitors, so when we moved here we already had northwest artists. And we brought Midwest artists with us and have kept us with improving our "stable" of artists. We've added more area and regional artists. We have refined what seems to be what people want in this area. Our gift selection has been fine-tuned, in spite of Chuck referring to those items as ‘knick-knacks." We are not just a tourist store and we feel we need to provide service to our local people as well. We are constantly searching for and changing out new items.

Sandy goes to the gift shows and as far away as the Atlanta show. Few of our competitors go that far. The mix of vendors at those far away shows is different from this side of the nation. She will find a rep there who will take care of us—even here on Whidbey Island. She also goes to the Chicago and San Francisco shows. I go along if we are going to the Las Vegas gift show.

Judy: What has it been like to be in business in Coupeville?

Chuck: We had a great place in Illinois. We have a fabulous place here in Coupeville. Both buildings are the type that make people say, "Wow." Our building in Illinois was built in 1896—a Victorian home. This building is about the same age and was probably owned by a "Victorian." We know many people would gladly trade places with us. We are happy here.

When this building was Traders Wharf it had an overhead garage door. We didn't like that look so we bought the big divided windows you see today from a friend in the window business in Illinois. They were special-made in Wisconsin. I didn't want them to look new so we sandblasted the windows (not the glass!) as that was our primary business in Illinois. I told my window friend I wanted to build an overhang over the windows so he designed the shipping crate so that all that material became the overhang you see today over those large windows. We did all this work before we moved out here.

We arrived before the windows in January and met the design review board who approved the changes. My Olympia buddy and his helpers arrived on a Saturday morning as we ripped out the overhead door in one day. The next day we installed the new large windows and late on Sunday they went home. I stayed the rest of the week and got the interior week all done—drywall and spackling mostly. The overhead door track is still hidden in the ceiling of the store. You can't seem them. Then we went home. It was a warm and sunny January. I remember working in my shirtsleeves! Skipper and Crew had just vacated and the Brines (Derek and Marjorie) moved part of their retail operation into that new space.

Judy: What other changes have you made?

Chuck: Part of the main level deck has been replace with TREX instead of wood and we've also installed a dual-pump lift station as our sewer is lower than the street sewer. We've also extended the second floor deck to the entire width of the building. It ended in the middle of one of the windows and was most annoying. For security reasons also as it is good to be able to look down both sides of the building at night when you hear things go "bump." We also enclosed part of the underneath of the building to keep kids from playing there. They would swing from the PVC pipes and break them and also (YIKES) build little "campfires." Long Bechard from the wharf will often call to alert us to the fact there are kids playing under the building.

Once we moved here we found many things to improve. We had the concrete apron out front replaced as the old one was breaking up and had several "trippers" that people would stumble over. We had the ‘trippers' eliminated, the swale approaching the front door eased and the workers freehanded all this shaping of a huge slab of wet cement. I also gained two flowerbeds next to the sidewalk and we planted some shrubbery there.

I've painted the trim on the windows a couple times but the body of the building remains weathered cedar.

This past fall (2007) we installed a generator because of our lift station. We have city water to flush toilets but need the lift station to complete the process. The winter before I was gone quite a bit and Sandy was without power five different times! Not good! The generator will also power the refrigerator and the freezer and one or two lighting circuits.

We also had two wood burning stoves. We never used them so we took them out and had a small propane stove installed. Now if the power goes off we'll also have heat. And we know the power will never go off now!

After the Brines moved out (after 19 years) we closed up some of the openings they'd made between the spaces and restored things to an earlier format. It's easier to foster a new business if they don't have to rent so much space at first. And when Marcon moved out after we couldn't give them more space on the upper level they moved to the new Carr building. We took a bit of their old space and created a bedroom/office. Then a lawyer, Kevin McConnell, rented the old Marcon space for a year or two, in the spring of 2003. Then Michelle Kempees opened her Atelier Michelle in that space and was there until February 2006. And when it became available, Michelle moved into the old Nautical ‘n' Nice space. The next tenant in that office was SCS Engineering (Donna Keeler's husband Mark Varljen) saving Mark from having to drive to Bellevue everyday. Mark and SCS are still with us and in January of 2008 Donna joined her husband in that space with her business Coastal Planning.

In November 2006 Stephanie Vogel rented the old chowder bar space for her business, Makepeace Arts. The other corner space was rented briefly by Upfront Solutions, a computer repair service. Susan Winkler has rented that space as a studio and retail outlet for her artwork. She continues in that space. When Stephanie's year lease was up she moved out and we used the space as a workshop until spring of 2008 when Norma Smith, our 10th district representative, rented it for a district office. And Michelle's space is now occupied by Janet Burchfield, a realtor. She makes her office there. So at the moment the building is fully occupied.

Judy: What other memories do we have?

Sandy: One of the best memories is the Cort wedding. Larry and Lisbeth got married on our deck and the reception followed on the same deck. We built gates to seal off the deck from the general public for the private party. And the weather that night was perfect. Chuck gave the bride away. And now if we have a party we can just close the gates to make it our own private space. And the year we all dressed in Victorian costumes for the Greening of Coupeville Art Walk night. Hallie's dad was Fezziwig (from A Christmas Carol by Dickens).

Judy: What is the best part of being in business in Coupeville?

Sandy: Other than my very short commute, it is the people we meet. We have friends now who started by being a customer. And we've been here long enough so that now I can remember peoples' names. We have lived in New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois before we moved here.

Judy: What can you tell me about the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association?

Chuck: Well, Sandy is very active in this group. She's on the board of the CHWA. In her words, ‘We're just working to help maintain, not just the businesses of Front Street, but helping people know that Coupeville is a wonderful place to live in and to visit. It's better for retail businesses and better for the town. It helps keep real estate taxes lower and contributes to sales tax. The core people of the organization are Mary Alice Sterling, our leader, Paul Whalen, Rick the manager of the Island County Historical Museum, Eileen Hunter, owner of the Hunter Gallery, and Judy Tackett who used to be where Touch of Dutch is now located. Pat Hernandez who works for Marcon International is the treasurer. Cindy Olsen does the promotion. We have the support of the National Main Street Program. Washington has a state offic. We just passed our first year test. After another year they will decide if we can be a part of their organization.

Judy: What are the advantages of being part of their program?

Chuck: They help with promotions and grant writing and make it easier for us to pull it out. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. It's not just a merchants group. We want the garden club and farmers market and all the various groups involved. They've been pleased they are invited to our meetings. Communication is good. Peg Tennant and Beach Watchers came and spoke at our meeting. Wharf Fest came out of this group. The Mussel Festival—Cindy Olsen and Lark Eelkema rescued us the first year when we got the event dumped in our laps at the last moment. We have a good handle on it now.

When Practical Magic was filmed here we had a ball. We enjoyed working before and after the movie crews finished their business here. We were nice to them and they were nice to us. We got invited to their parties. We found that if we were cooperative they purchased things from our shop. We framed some pictures that appear in the movie. It was good for business. We especially enjoyed watching them install two fake trees near our building. All in all we felt we were justly compensated for the use of our building and space.

Click for a 1 Mbyte movie sequence of the layout of the building since 1988

1990 - The building housed Skipper & Crew run by DeWayne & Joan Hess, The Party Works Sweet Shop, Penn Cove Gallery, Nautical ‘N'Nice + Chowder Bar.

1990 - The Poust's bought the building from Dan Beardslee

1991- 1993 The building housed Skipper & Crew run by DeWayne & Joan Hess, The Party Works Sweet Shop, Penn Cove Gallery, and Nautical N' Nice + Chowder Bar

1993 - 1994 - The building housed the European Uncommon Market, Brine's The Party Works, Nautical ‘N' Nice + Chowder Bar. In May of 1993 B'twixt & B'tween replaced The Party Works Sweet Shop.

1995 - The building housed the European Uncommon Market, Nautical ‘N' Nice + Chowder Bar and B'twixt & B'tween. Poust's remodeled front of building

1996 - The building housed the European Uncommon Market, Nautical ‘N' Nice + Chowder Bar, and B'twixt & B'tween

1997 - Windjammer Gallery and Custom Frame located in street side of building, owned by Chuck and Sandy Poust. European Uncommon Market moved to water side of building and incorporated with Nautical 'N' Nice, run by Derek and Marjorie Brine.

1998- 1999 The building housed the Windjammer Gallery + Frame Shop and European Uncommon Market + Nautical ‘N' Nice

2000 - The building housed the Windjammer Gallery + Frame Shop, European Uncommon Market + Nautical ‘N' Nice and Kevin McConnell, attorney, upstairs

2001- 2002 The building housed the Windjammer Gallery + Frame Shop, European Uncommon Market + Nautical ‘N' Nice

2003- The building housed the Windjammer Gallery + Frame Shop, European Uncommon Market + Nautical ‘N' Nice, Atelier Michele run by Michele Kempes, Kevin McConnell, attorney, and upstairs SCS Engineering & Coastal Planning, run by Mark Varljen & Donna Keeler

2007- The building housed the Windjammer Gallery + Frame Shop

2008- The building housed the Windjammer Gallery + Frame Shop, Coupe's View – gallery and art studio run by Susan Winkler, and Rep. Norma Smith's office

2009- The building housed the Windjammer Gallery + Frame Shop and Janet Burchfield, real estate

Windjammer building and Coupeville Wharf
Windjammer building and Coupeville Wharf.
Photo by Robert Y Elphick - 2013
Building in 2013
Building next to Collections at #24 Front Street. Note the Salmon Wheel added in 2012 on the left.
Photo by Robert Y Elphick - 2013

2014 - The Windjammer Gallery closes and is replaced by the Vail wine shop that was in the Mariners Court across the street. The Windjammer Framing shop remains open behind Vail's.

Building in 2013
Vail Wines occupies the front store.
Photo by Robert Y Elphick - 2014
Collections on the left and WindJammer/Vail on the right.
Courtesy: Robert Y Elphick, 2015

2015 - The building is bought by Patsy and Larry Vail who run the Vail Wine Shop in the building. They moved into the apartment upstairs.

The main businesses in the building are Vail Wine Shop & Tasting, Windjammer Framing, and Front Street Realty.

Building in 2013
#22 NW Front Street from the south with the Wharf.
Photo by Robert Y Elphick - 2020

2020 - Windjammer Framing closes. Owner retires.

* 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