The recent fire that devastated Downriggers restaurant got me thinking about all the old wooden buildings in Friday Harbor. If you take a close look as you walk through town, peering beyond the storefront signs and window displays, you’ll see that almost every building in the down town core is old. This is just one aspect of Friday Harbor’s inimitable charm. In fact, within the town limits of barely one square mile, there are over 100 historic sites identified, which is remarkable for such a small area.
Consider that since the town’s incorporation, there have been seven significant fires in town, according to Sandy Strehlou of the Friday Harbor Historic Preservation Review Board. In fact, there were two fires in the same location, at Spring and First. Yet, Friday Harbor still stands. “I think it’s a miracle,” Sandy exclaims. Though the town was pretty much always a working man’s town with no fancy mansions, it is extraordinarily rich in architectural history. What’s more, there are still descendents of the original settlers here to perpetuate the stories.
The Soul of the Buildings
According to quantum mechanics, physical matter is energy. Just as people and animals have energy, so do rocks, earth, and yes, even buildings. Think of the energy that has accumulated in those old buildings; all the people who have walked those wooden floors; cried, laughed, shouted, and whispered between those walls. What stories those walls could tell! Would they bleed with tears, sigh with joy?
Coho Restaurant is in a craftsman style home built in the 1920s at 120 Nichols Street in Friday Harbor. We know at one time a family by the name of Settles lived here and eventually moved to Lime Kiln to tend the lighthouse. Another family with the name Chevalier lived here at one time, and a quick look in the phone book shows quite a number of Chevaliers and a Settle living on San Juan Island. Might they be descendants of the families who occupied our Nichols Street home?
We’d like to think it’s the energy of those families who inhabited this building that adds to the cozy ambiance of the dining room. But we’d love to hear stories from anyone who has stayed in the home. Our comments are open. Do you or someone you know have information you will kindly share with us?