New chamber space, restrooms open in downtown Coupeville
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
March 11, 2011 · 3:34 PM
After years of being an eyesore, a long-empty building in historic downtown Coupeville has found a new life.
The former fire hall, located on Alexander Street across the street from the Island County Museum, officially opened Wednesday afternoon as the new home of the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce.
The Ware family, based in Mount Vernon, spent the past several months converting the dilapidated building into a pleasant space for the chamber and a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor.
Approximately 75 people came to the fire hall Wednesday afternoon to witness the ribbon cutting of the new visitor’s center and revamped public restrooms.
“There’s a lot of positive energy going on in Coupeville,” Mayor Nancy Conard said during the ceremony. She noted in addition to the new chamber home, the Front Street Grill on the waterfront was recently built and the old County Deli building is getting a much-needed update.
Town officials also marked the renovation of the public restrooms located between the fire hall and Mariner’s Cove. Conard admitted that it was difficult to find a lot to talk about concerning the renovated restrooms.
“I googled jokes about toilets and what I got was toilet humor,” Conard said. She didn’t share any of the jokes she found on the Internet. Once council members cut the toilet-paper ribbon, they participated in the ceremonial first “royal flush.”
The Town of Coupeville had previously owned the building that was built in 1937. Over the years it had served as a fire station and then a museum before becoming storage space for the town.
The Ware family purchased the building for $1,000 with the understanding of renovating the structure in 90 days and ensuring the restrooms remained in public use.
“What we were hoping for was to get the building in use,” Conard said. “The icing on the cake was the chamber of commerce visitor’s center.”
The renovated building restored the fire station theme. Two red garage doors highlight the front of the building.
During the ceremony, organizers announced the name of the dog sculpture placed in front of the chamber building. After 70 people submitted suggested names, Coupe was chosen as the dog’s name.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.