110 First Street
Village Pizzeria (Drug Store / Retail / Restaurants / Whidbey Inn)
The exact date of construction of the building is not certain, but the picture below appears in a November 30, 1939 ad for "Langley Drugs." Seattle newspapers from the spring and early summer of 1937 were used as insulation around water pipes .
Circa 1937/1938: Building built
1939. Langley Drugs (Courtesy South Joan Handy)
The building housed the office and drug store of Doctor Alfonzo Orlando Brewer. Frances Johnson recalls that "Dr. Brewer's office was entered through a little door at the left. The living quarters were on the north side overlooking Saratoga Passage. The drug store was facing First Street." The sign over the door reads "Darigold Ice Cream."
Doctor Brewer and his then wife, Fern, had previously operated a drug store and doctor's office in a building across First Street. The land on which the building is located was purchased by Fern's parents, Thomas and Daisy Estabrook, on June 6, 1942.
Dr. Brewer's stay in the building was apparently short. He and Fern divorced, and Dr. Brewer married Elinor Glee MacKay March 3, 1944 in Vancouver, Washington after a 6 month courtship, according to his stepson, Don McKay. Fern remained proprietor of the drug store following her separation from Doctor Brewer.
In 1945, Fern was involved in a dispute over where the Washington State Liquor Store would be located in Langley. A headline in the September 20, 1945 Whidbey Record read: "Langley Liquor Store Warfare in Full Swing." The dispute was "...between Fern M. Brewer, proprietor and authorized dealer, and Orval A. Lowe, a WWI veteran, recently appointed by the state liquor control board to take over the local agency. Lowe ...remodeled an old building at the corner of Anthes Avenue and Second Street and is still awaiting the transfer of stock to his shelves. Crux of the row is the contention of some Island County Democrats that Mrs. Brewer is not a Democrat, did not actively support (Governor) Wallgren during his campaign for office, and refused permission to a Democratic worker to put a Wallgren poster in her drug store window."
1946. First Street looking west. Dick Scriven in the foreground. (Courtesy Anna Primavera)
1947: Leo Lee family arrives in Langley
Circa 1948/49. First Street looking west. (Courtesy John Ball)
Leo Lee, a pharmacist, ran a pharmacy in Seattle for 19 years and was thinking of retiring. A drug salesman told him to think about moving to Langley. He said the so-called drug store carried liquor, ribbon, jewelry and other things, but people had to go to Everett or Coupeville to get actual drugs. Also, Leo liked to fish and he wouldn't have to work so hard.
The Lee family moved to Langley in 1947. They lived behind the store and slept in the bedrooms downstairs. Leo painted the word "DRUGS" in big letters on the side of the building to announce the purpose of the building.
1955. The east side of the drug store. (Courtesy Ron Childers and Richard Proctor)
1955: Leo Lee buys the building.
Dr. Brewer's ex-wife, Fern, continued to own the Drug Store until 1955 when she sold the building to Leo Lee.
1960. Lee's Pharmacy (Courtesy Darrell Corbin)
A "Lee's Pharmacy and Prescriptions" sign was placed on the south side, and a neon "Rexall" sign was installed above the main entrance. The entrance on the west side (left) was extended to the front of the building and led to the liquor section of the store.
Circa 1960. Leo Lee in the in his Drug Store. (Courtesy Larry Lee)
Circa 1962. Southeast corner of Drug Store (Courtesy Ron Noble)
Pharmacist Ron Lind and his wife Pat purchased Lee's Rexall Drug business on First Street from Leo Lee in May of 1970. They rented the building with an option to buy a lot across the street that Leo owned. Three months later they bought the property next to the Christian Science Church and began construction of a two-story building that opened as the new Langley Rexall Drug store on September 28, 1970.
With a new drug store in operation, Lee's Drugs was transformed into a number of business spaces. An overhang was added, the front of the building was changed, and an entrance to the building was placed on the east side.
1973. Drug Store with overhang (Courtesy Frances Johnson)
The building housed a shoe store for a few months on the right side of the building. Dianne Fraser recalls that they used "Raggedy Ann and Andy" dolls to model the baby's shoes. "Once when her husband was returning from Washington DC, he forgot to buy the kids a present, so he ran down and bought that Raggedy Ann and Andy so he wouldn't get into trouble."
1978: Blair's Brunch for pie.
Leo Lee retired in 1977, and the building was sold to Gillian and Reimer Neilson in 1978. The sale of the building was subject to a commercial lease with EJ and Olive Blair who operated a restaurant called "Blair's Brunch" in the building through 1979.
Circa 1979. Blair's Brunch sign (Courtesy Langley City Hall)
"Olive baked the best pies! She would bring in about 12 per day, and had a sign on which she kept track of the number of pies she had made over time." (Gary Piper)
"Tour buses from Seattle would disgorge tourists coming for a piece of Olive's pie! One of the favorites was peanut butter meringue! Blair never cooked anything but bacon and eggs and hamburgers." (Louise Prewitt)
"It was a hangout for all the locals to go to have coffee. They made the best pies! The didn't have booths. You just sat there. It's the place everybody went for coffee in the morning." (Jean Bjorn)
The back room of the building, which was entered through the door on the west side facing the park, housed Lonna Parker's Secretarial Service in the '70's, followed by Louise Holloway Stanley's "Renaissance Hair Salon" from about 1978 till 1983.
1980. Renaissance Hair Salon (Courtesy Langley City Hall)
1981: Arthur Bauer and Pricilla Golas buy the bulding.
The Neilsons sold the building to Arthur Bauer and Pricilla Golas who intended to use it as a springboard for revitalizing downtown Langley. They lived in the building, and Pricilla managed the "Whidbey Inn" bed and breakfast on the lower floor between working flight schedules as an airline stewardess.
2004. Entrance to the Whidbey Inn. (Courtesy Robert Waterman)
The sale of the building was subject to a lease with Allan Reinhart, who had taken over the restaurant from the Blairs and expanded the menu. When "Al's Place" moved down the street next to the Clyde Theatre, the space became Pat Goff's "Silk Road" clothing store. John Ball had the "Mad Hatter Bookstore" on the left side.
Circa 1983. Sign in window reads "Silk Road". The "Mad Hatter" bookstore occupied the left side. (Courtesy Langley City Hall)
Circa 1983. John Ball and "Mad Hatter Old Books" (Courtesy Ron Childers)
When John Ball moved the Mad Hatter store across the street in 1986, a shop called "Blue Heart" occupied his space (Linda Beeman).
1985: Building sold to Richard Francisco
Richard Francisco purchased the building in 1985. He remodeled the living quarters into three suites with fireplaces and "high end furnishings." The "gazebo suite" had a small gazebo attached. The storefronts were remodeled into a pizzeria called "Luigi's Pizzeria," operated by Cindy Francisco.
Circa 1989. North side with gazebo. (Courtesy Ron Childers)
1994: Langley's Village Pizzeria arrives!
Paul and Micky Sarkis took over running the Pizzeria in 1994, and renamed it the "Village Pizzeria." It rapidly became a favorite place for family dining--simple but delicious Italian dishes and of course, the best pizza for many miles around.
2004. Village Pizzeria. (Courtesy Robert Waterman)
In 2013, the former living quarters were replaced by a classic bar and more tables on the water side, with expansive views of the Saratoga Passage, Camano Island and the Cascades.
2013. Former living quarters being remodeled. (Courtesy Robert Waterman)
Paul Sarkis bought the building in 2015. Now managed by a second generation Sarkis, and with excellent pizza to go, the Village Pizzeria remains a local monument to good food and good times together.
2016. 0Village Pizzeria seen from Seawall Park. (Courtesy Robert Waterman)