Museum to host historic walking tour

Paul Whelan will hold a historic walking tour of Coupeville Tuesday, July 29. - Megan Hansen photo
Paul Whelan will hold a historic walking tour of Coupeville Tuesday, July 29.
— image credit: Megan Hansen photo

As the longest standing commercial property owner on Front Street, Paul Whelan has seen the waterfront town change over the years.

With his family moving to Coupeville in 1942, Whelan has taken a keen interest in the community’s history.

In 1953 his father purchased the Mariti chocolate shop on Front Street from James Zylstra. According to Whelan, Coupeville was dying in the 1950s, and for a long time his family rented the building for $25 a month prior to purchasing.

Buildings were reasonable to purchase at the time, and they also purchased the building Kapaws Iskreme now operates in.

It wasn’t until the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival was created that the downtown started turning around.

It’s this connection to the community that has Whelan interested in its history.

Reading various accounts from different people and organizations in the community has made him somewhat of a local historian to Rick Castellano, director of the Island County Historical Museum.

After all, he has all kinds of dirt and scandalous anecdotes from over the years.

Whelan plans on sharing some of these stories 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 29, during historical walking tour to benefit the museum.

Coined, “Coupeville 1889,” the tour coincides with celebration of the anniversary of Washington becoming a state.

Whelan will share what Coupeville was like in 1889, along with historical account of the people who lived here.

“What is one of the very special things about Coupeville is you can look at (historical) photos and tell it’s Coupeville,” Castellano said.

The walk will start at the museum on the corner of Front and Alexander Streets. Whelan will take walkers up Front Street, down to Captain Coupe’s house, around the county court house and back down by the Methodist Church.

While Whelan won’t disclose most of the stories he plans on sharing, he said he will discuss one incident in which a couple of members were kicked out of the conservative church.

“They were very prominent pioneer families,” Whelan said. “You will recognize their names immediately.”

The tour cost is $5. Whelan said he does have a lot of information to share, so the tour should run about an hour and a half.


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