History corner: Secrets unmasked at Griffin Bay Bookstore

Griffin Bay Bookstore’s newly remodeled front door hides clues to the origins of the building’s construction. - Scott Rasmussen
Griffin Bay Bookstore’s newly remodeled front door hides clues to the origins of the building’s construction.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

By Sandy Strehlou/Special to the Journal

Last week I stopped by Griffin Bay Books to check out the new door going in.

The trim had not yet been installed, revealing clues that Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Company's decorative concrete block was used to build Griffin Bay Bookstore.The bookstore's stucco façade hides the fact that when the building was constructed it probably looked more like its neighbor, what is today the Daisy Bloom building.

The original façade was made of painted concrete block in a square-within-a-square pattern. The stucco we see today, the entrance and the half-moon windows are the product of a more recent remodel carried out by Sam Buck Sr., prior to 1994. The Daisy Bloom building (formerly the OPALCO office) was built in 1924, so the bookstore may have been built at or around that time.

In addition to its decorative block façade, the original bookstore building likely had a recessed entrance. Recessed entrances made up of large plate glass windows were a favored architectural feature of Friday Harbor's early commercial buildings. This is still evident in a few of the town's historic buildings: the BBQ Shack (Dos Diablos), Daisy Bloom, Sandpebble, and the Coldwell Banker building.

The next time you step inside Griffin Bay Bookstore, look at the area of the brick you are standing on. Then look up to the ceiling—there you will see an area of the same size delineated in the ceiling. The fun is looking for the clues.

The Brickworks on Nichols Street (the new home of the permanent farmers market) was originally the Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Company. In its heyday, the Brick and Tile Company produced the concrete block used to build many buildings in Friday Harbor's commercial core, including historic sites known today as Friday HarborTown Hall, Daisy Bloom, King's Marine and part of King's Grocery Store, King's  Video, the Toy Box, and more.

Now we can add to this list Griffin Bay Bookstore.

The Brickworks is an historically significant local landmark today because it is the last of the original industrial buildings in town. Its products (a variety of concrete block styles, other building materials and services) were instrumental in building the town and influenced the look of Spring Street for 100 years and counting.

— Sandy Strehlou is historic preservation coordinator for the Town of Friday Harbor.


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