220 First Street

Gregor Rare Books, Portico, John L. Scott, Counseling (Meat Market / Bakery / Antiques)

Circa 1907: First Meat Market


Circa 1907. North side of First Street (Courtesy Karen Pauly)

By 1907 businesses along the north side of First Street included the "Palace of Sweets" (a confectionary and pool hall), a meat market, a barbershop, a blacksmith shop, and a livery stable.

The butcher, Henry Weber, 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.

Of course, there was no refrigeration, so all the meat hung in the open, except the wieners that lay in a half barrel, partly covered with white fat. Some flies were around, since the greasy screen door hung in flaps and shreds.

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 nipped regularly throughout the day. "Es is kalt in das Shop," he'd explain, as he stuffed it back in its hiding place. (William McGuinnis).


Circa 1914. Buildings on north side of First Street. (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society)

The Olympic Club, built next to the Palace of Sweets in 1908, became the Langley Mercantile and Post Office in 1912. It shared an awning with the Palace of Sweets. Not to be outdone, the adjacent Meat Market also sported an awning.

Circa 1935: New Meat Market.


1943. Primavera girls on 1st Street in front of Langley Meat Market (Courtesy Anna Primavera).

A new, larger, meat market was built next to the former blacksmith shop. The butcher Edward Wallace Christoe and his family lived behind the butcher shop. There was a board walkway back to their quarters. (Frances Johnson).

Betty Hensley and her mother, who lived in Langley from 1928 to 1939, were considered poor. They qualified for the meat from deer that were killed on the roads. "If you didn't report a killed deer, you could be fined. But, if you reported it, you could retrieve it and take it to the meat market." (Betty (Hensley) Daniels).

In 1942 the "Langley Meat and Cold Storage" was run by Herman Walters. John McLeod worked in the meat market for Herman Walters for about two months delivering meat to people on the south end of the Island in a 4-cylinder Ford van. He left when they couldn't agree on a contract.

1948: Frear buys the Meat Market


1960. Bob Frear in apron in front of his meat market (Courtesy Darrell Corbin)

From 1948 to March 1971, Bob Frear owned and operated the "Langley Meat and Cold Storage." "Frear started out as an apprentice butcher in Seattle in 1912. Bob's family had settled near Lone Lake in 1920, and Bob worked for the Lynden Poultry Company and later for the Cooperative Egg and Poultry Association. He married May Bainter in 1930, and they started their own chicken business on property between Park and DeBruyn.

Gayle Pancerzewski remembers "Bob was always dressed in his old time white butcher outfit and when someone came in with a youngster he would reach into his cold display case and pull out a wiener and hand it to the youngster to eat, like some store owner today might hand out a candy. He always had the historical meat market sawdust on the floor.

Bob did not display a lot of meat cuts, preferring to cut them to order for customers. When someone would come in to get a couple of steaks he would go into his cold storage room where several quarters of beef were hanging and bring one out and lay it on his large butcher block and ask the customer how thick they wanted him to cut the steak right in front of them where they could tell him where to place his sharp knife to make the cut. If the piece involved a bone he had his butcher hand saws to make the cut and also had a few very large cleavers that would cut any bone."

He closed the meat market in March, 1971.

After Bob Frear retired, Ben Reams ran the business for a few years, trying to create an "old-fashioned meat market." He "redecorated his shop with antiques and provided a small coffee shop. He gives free shopping bags to his customers and plans to buy an old truck and paint a sign on it: Ben's Butcher Shop, Free Delivery." (Seattle Times, 1973).

"They had this old compressor back there that was a refrigeration unit for fish. You could rent lockers there. There was a double row of them. They had little flaps with hinges --like slatted gates that you could put a padlock on." (John Norby) "You'd stick your stuff in there. If you were short, you couldn't see your stuff in the back." (Sandy Izett).

North side of shop

1975. North side of Ben's Butcher Shop (Courtesy Langley City Hall)

When Ben Reams had the meat market, Gary Piper painted a sign on the north side of the building so it could be seen from the water.

When Ben gave up the store, "Alex McDonald took it over. He ran the meat market for a time simply as a storage unit. He got new refrigeration stuff, but he was an academic and didn't really know much about it. Eventually the unit would fail and he'd have to rush off to get new stuff. It eventually frosted up. People's food was rotting. They had to knock it down and clean it up. The building was totally gutted." (John Norby).

Lonna and Art Parker had the building next. They remodeled the front of the meat market and added a second floor. The original meat market was in back. the deed specified that the large meat market scale was to be placed on the sidewalk for hunters to weigh their deer and tourists to weigh themselves. Lonna had a gallery upstairs, and Ron Childers and Richard Proctor had their first gallery there before moving into the old post office building a few doors west in 1983.

1977: Daily Bread Bakery

Daily Bread Bakery

1978. Daily Bread Bakery (Photograph by Gary Whitcomb in "Island Views" 1978)

Bruce Dobson and Laurie (now Davenport) moved their "Daily Bread Bakery" from Clinton to Langley. They initially occupied the back portion of Brian McKenna's "B-Street" on First Street before moving across the street into the former meat market building from 1977 to 1982.

1980's Building remodeled.


1985. Former meat market (left) (Courtesy Brian McKenna)

Steve and Cathy James remodeled the building in the 1980's. There were two shops in front and an antique store in back, with rental offices upstairs.


2004. Virginia LaRue's "Cascadia Nauticals" in the rear and "Virginia's Too" on both sides of the front. (Courtesy Robert Waterman)

Virginia LaRue had three antique shops in the remodeled building; "Cascadia Nauticals" in the rear, and "Virginia's Too" in both front spaces. Other businesses that occupied the building in the 1980's included the "Herron," and "Litlstuff."

The building was purchased from Cathy James by Cheryl Keefe in 2014. The old meat market scale that was initially placed on the right side, was moved to the left side of the building for aesthetic reasons.


2016. Portico Restaurant in the rear, Whidbey Island Natural and Swanky Dog on the ground floor, and counseling offices above (Courtesy Robert Waterman)

A cupcake shop occupied the right hand space for a short time before being occupied by the Swanky Dog, which was subsequently replaced by John L. Scott Realty in early 2017. Whidbey Island natural was replaced by Gregor Rare Books in 2018.


2018. Gregor Rare Books (left) and John L. Scott Realty (right) (Courtesy Robert Waterman).