455 First Street
This house was one of the early homes on the south side of First Street.
1909/1910. House (arrow) (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).
1910: Ellen Nicol purchases the property
On 12/17/1910, Ellen Nicol bought 4 lots on First Street from Jacob and Leafy Anthes. The house was built around this time on two of the lots, and Ellen's husband William Nicol, a blacksmith, may have been involved in its construction.
William C. Nicol , was born in Scotland and married Ellen O'Hare in Spokane in 1899. It was his first, and Ellen's second, marriage. William and Ellen were living in Langley in 1910 with their two children: 9 y.o. Beatrice and 1 y.o. Doris. William was Langley's second blacksmith.
The first blacksmith in town was Anton Myer ("Blackie") Anderson who came to Langley at the urging of Jacob Anthes in August, 1904 with his wife, Josephine, and their two children, Otto and Alma. (Cherry III). "Blackie" initially set up shop on a lot at Third and Anthes Avenue, then bought a lot on the north side of First Street and moved his blacksmith shop there.
Circa 1909/1910. First Street looking West. House (arrow) (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).
As a kid, William McGinnis remembers watching the "sparks fly off Bill Nicol's anvil." McGinnis also described a near tragic accident involving Bill Nicol and the sternwheeler, Fairhaven.
Circa 1914. Fairhaven at the Langley wharf (Courtesy Helene Ryan).
From the top of the bank above the marina, McGinnis was watching the Fairhaven tie up to the Langley dock with her "huge red stern wheel reversing slowly to hold her freight deck in to the slip." He saw that Bill Nicol, "a burly blacksmith" and another man were working on the engine of Nicol's small boat nearby. Bill had pulled up the anchor anticipating a trial run.
"Suddenly, I noticed the launch was moving toward the paddlewheel of the Fairhaven. Bow first, it was being sucked into the heavy timber paddles. I could see what was going to happen but I could do nothing. Nobody could hear me."
"The wheel smashed down on the small boat's bow. It went down. I saw a man appear at the side window and dive over the side. I could hear the heavy paddles chewing up the cabin. A man in a white shirt, Bill it was, someway came up on the turning paddle wheel. He hung on. The wheel turned down under and came back up - the white shirt was still hanging on.
The wheel spat out the launch's hull, and just as Bill was heading for another trip around, they got the engine stopped. There were shouts and yells and men came running from the dock. Bill climbed from the paddle wheel to the guard rail and onto the dock. 'I thought I was a goner,' he said." (William McGinnis, Langleyites).
Circa 1914. East side of house (arrow *) (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society)
William and Ellen Nicol moved to Everett where they were living in 1920 with daughter Beatrice, and William was working as a blacksmith for a lumber mill..
1919: Property sold to Frank Weber
Ellen and William C. Nicol sold the four lots and house on First Street to Frank Weber (9/10/1919).
Franciscus ("Frank", "Franz") Weber was born in Prussia in 1848 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1874. He married Margretha Adams and was living and working as a "butcher".in Arcadia, Iowa in 1880.
Frank and Margaretha had five children: Henry (b. 6/14/1879), Martes (b. 4/6/1891) , Franz Johann (b. 8/28.1882 ), Mary Elizabeth (b. 4/23/1884 ), and Gerard Anton (b. 11/16/1885) who died four months later.
For some unknown reason, Frank left Margaretha and their children in Iowa about 1889 and went to the San Francisco area until 1900 before coming to Langley. According to Frank's great granddaughter, Sharon Baker, Frank and Margeretha never divorced, although Fransiscus listed himself as "widowed" or "single" on census forms. Margaretha died in 1914 in South Dakota.
Frank operated Langley's Meat Market housed in a small building on the North side of First Street between the Palace of Sweets and a small Barbershop
Circa 1907. Meat Market on First Street (Courtesy Karen Pauley).
As Willliam McGinnis remembered, Frank "lived in the back of the Meat Market and was never seen without an old sweater and bloody apron. The housewives swore that he weighed his hand with every sale. His nose was large, red and deeply pitted. His thin hair was white and, when he peered through his smeary, steel rimmed spectacles, he could have been Langley's best loved Santa Claus - if he hadn't held his meaty hand on the scale."
"The old butcher's meat came from Everett by boat, so, although much maligned, his was the only game in town. He managed to make ends meet and keep a bottle around, from which he sipped regularly, throughout the day. 'Iss kalt in das shop', he'd explain, as he stuffed it back in its hiding place." (Langleyites).
Frank and Margaretha's eldest son Henry purchased 20 acres on Maxwelton Road in 1904. Henry married Elizabeth Hutter 2/9/1909 in Seattle, and the family was living on South Whidbey in 1910.
Interestingly, like Henry, Elizabeth's father was also named Frank Weber. Before she married Henry, Elizabeth Weber had been married to Mathias Hutter and they had a daughter, Louise, who was adopted by Henry. Henry and Elizabeth then had Francis, Margaret and Henry who died as an infant.
Circa 1911/1912 Louise Hutter/Weber (b. 1905), Elizabeth, Francis, Henry Weber (Courtesy Peggy Curtis).
At some point prior to 1920, Henry took over as butcher from his father who listed himself as "retired meat cutter" in the 1920 census.
Circa 1914. Buildings on north side of First Street. (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society)
Henry posed with a group of Langley males in front of the Meat Market as a tongue in cheek response to the election of an All-Woman town administration in 1920.
1920. Henry Weber with apron next to Anton ("Blackie") Anderson Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).
1923: Frank Weber deeded the house and property on First Street to his son Henry on November 19, 1923, and died of "heart disease" 10 days later at age 75. He is buried in the Langley Cemetery.
1927: Webers sell the property
In 1927, Henry and Elizabeth sold the two lots on which the house is situated to Charles W. and Evelyn (wife) Corliss (12/26/1027). Henry and Elizabeth were living in Seminole, Oklahoma in 1930, then returned to Langley by 1940, and Elizabeth's father, Frank Joseph Weber, age 86 was living with them. Frank Joseph Weber died in 1944 at the age of 91, and is buried in Everett. Henry Weber died in 1956 and is buried in the Langley Cemetery. Elizabeth died in 1975.
The First Street property then passed to a number of owners following the Corliss', including former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, his wife Pamala and their partners the Raffs (1982-1986). At some point prior the Schell's ownership, the initially open porch was enclosed.
1911. First Street looking east. House (arrow) with open porch (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).
1998: Brian Lowry and Wendy Sunquist
Brian C. Lowey and Wendy J. Sundquist purchased the property 6/23/1998. They operated the Karlson/Gray art gallery on First Street for a brief time before selling the gallery to Rene Neff and Anne Waterman in 2009.
2009. Karlson/Gray Gallery (Courtesy Robert Waterman).
2011: Timothy P. and Katherine M. Good-Smith.
Timothy P. and Katherine M. Good-Smith bought the property 8/10/2011.
2020. 455 First Street. N.E. corner (Courtesy Robert Waterman).