Our Lummi Island Community

Historical Background of The Beach Store Cafe (BSZ)

And story of the Richards family

Click to view copy of Archive document this page is based on

The Ripley Jonathan Richards Family
Antigo, Wisconsin  – c 1886
Mary Annah (Mamie), Llewellyn, William, Otis, Althera, Violet, Leon, Elizabeth Margaret, Ripley, Russell, Jeie

Recent information from Lillian Compton Bassett (granddaughter of Althera Richards Compton and daughter of Miles Warren Compton) reports that “this family has been traced as far back as the 1600’s in America.  Elizabeth Margaret Turney Richards had this large family and Althera was the eldest. Ripley was a great wanderer and didn’t stay home much–he wandered all over the U.S. and finally ended up in Whatcom County when he notified the family that and told them to move out from Wisconsin.  Elizabeth Margaret and several of her boys moved out and settled on Lummi Island where they built a store and held dances.  Her boys and a couple of Althera’s sons had a little band and played the mouth organ, Jew’s harp, fiddle, etc. for dances.  This same building known as the (named for the first postmaster John Ward Beach) still stands and is on the State Register of Historical Buildings.

This data from research by Alice and LeRoy Wayne Richards, son of Russell Richards
252 South Garden Street, Bellingham, Washington 98225
May 1996


Ripley Jonathan Richards And the Civil War of 1861 – 1865

Ripley was the fifth child of ten children born to Ira and Annah Richards in Vermont.  Ripley was born April 19, 1828.  Sometime before 1850, the Richards family moved to Wisconsin when that territory was expanding three-fold in their population and becoming a state (1848).

On October 23,1854, Ripley married Elizabeth Margaret Turney of Pennsylvania.  He was 26 years old, and she was 15.  They were married in New London, Wisconsin by Justice of the Peace McMillan.

In the elections of 1860, Wisconsin was the one of the states that helped elect Abraham Lincoln to be President of the United States.  The Civil War began on April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumpter, and the new President called for volunteers to stand up for the Union.  At age 33 and already the father of two children (Althera Emeline and Warren Perry), Ripley enlisted April 21, 1861 for three years at Oshkosh.  He was enrolled into Company E, 2nd Wisconsin Regiment of United States volunteers as a private in the infantry.

His Pension records show that he was in the first battle of Bull Run in the state of Virginia on the 21st day of July 1861.  At the end of a three-mile march on the double quick from Centreville to the front, Ripley was “sun-struck, fell to his knees, and everything went black.”  During 1862, he spent part of June and July in the G.H. Fairfax Seminary Hospital near Alexandria, VA.  On July 26, 1862, he returned to duty.  However, in September of that same year he became a patient in a hospital in Washington, D.C.  His ailment was listed as chronic derangement of the liver and rheumatism.  On November 29, 1862, he was honorably discharged from the army while at a convalescent camp near Alexandria.

When Ripley enrolled in the service, he gave his occupation as carpenter. When he returned to Wisconsin, he also became a farmer.  On December 28, 1864, he was drafted into Company E, 7th Infantry of Wisconsin at Green Bay for one year.  His group was commanded by Gabe Boucke.  He again was in the hospital at City Point, Virginia in February 1865.  He was honorably discharged from this second time of service on July 3, 1865 near Jeffersonville, Indiana.  The family tells a story of his walking home from the war and eating berries in the woods along the way to cure his diarrhea.  During these Civil War years, Ripley and Elizabeth had two more children (William Lincoln in 1862 and Mary Annah in 1864).


A letter July 22, 2001
To: Polly Hanson, Lummi Island
Paul G. Davis, Lummi Island
Richard Vanderway, Bellingham

RE: The Beach Store and the Richards Family

Dear Polly, Paul, and Richard,

This summer our daughter Robin Richards Anderson traveled with her friend on the Whale Watch trip though the Islands and up into Canadian waters.  On the way back to Bellingham, the boat traveled on the leeward side of Lummi Island.  Of course, she has seen all our data about Ripley and Elizabeth Margaret Richards over the years and more recently the new findings we have learned about the Beach Store.  She recognized it immediately as they passed.  Of course, she told her friends about it, but when they went online to learn more, they did not find anything about the Richards family and how they built the store and ran the post office out of it from 1901 to 1910.

This is why we have decided to write to the three of you who we trust will also be interested in seeing that this situation is rectified with appropriate words online and documents in all the historical places.  We are enclosing copies of materials that you may wish to add to your current files on Lummi Island and the Beach Store.  These can all be documented through archival materials we have on hand.

LeRoy is a grandson of Ripley and Elizabeth but never got to meet either of them.  We have tended their graves all our married life to honor their memory.  There are others still living in the area who are related; they include our three children who are great grandchildren, Aline Richards Bring who is a great grandchild, Lorna Compton White who is a great-great grandchild, Richard Vanderway who is also a great-great grandchild and, of course, many, many others. We all wish for Elizabeth and Ripley Richards to be remembered.

Thank you so much for your help in this.  If you have any questions or further suggestions, please get in touch with us by phone or online.



P.S. There are two questions we still have which you may be able to assist us with.  We attempted to fmd just where Pacific Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers of the Civil War was located, but so far do not yet know.  Also, we found a picture of Ripley (identified only as Richards) with other pioneers of the island in P.R. Jeffcott’s book Nooksack Tales and Trails on page 399 in the chapter about Lummi Island.  We would like to know the date of the picture, but it is not given.


The Beach Store on Lummi Island And the Richards Family who built it

The acreage on which the Beach Store on Lummi Island was built was purchased by Elizabeth Margaret Turney Richards in December 1901 for the sum of 600 dollars.  It was unusual in those days for a woman to purchase property, but her husband Ripley Jonathan Richards was a disabled soldier from the Civil War.  He had been staying in the Pacific Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers from November 22, 1894 until January 7, 1898 with a disability of chronic rheumatism.

During this time, Ripley discovered Lummi Island and wrote home to his wife, Elizabeth Margaret, inviting her and their ten children in Wisconsin to join him in this beautiful place.  Many of the children were already married and had begun families of their own.  However, the three unmarried sons and at least four of the married children decided to take the train with their mother and join their father in the West.

The third child and second son, William Lincoln Richards, and his wife Neva Estelle Case and four of their children established a place to live on Lummi Island with Ripley.  When Elizabeth Margaret arrived with more of the family, the family chose the acreage on the leeward side of the island.  Elizabeth Margaret purchased the property from George and Adelaide Guion of Chicago in December 1901.

By occupation, Ripley was a carpenter and taught his sons how to build.  So, the family planned and built a large new grocery store with an apartment behind and a large meeting room upstairs.  The boys in the Richards families in the area formed a band and played for dances in the large room upstairs.

The Beach Grocery (as it was called) also became the island’s post office that year and remained so until 1941.  At that time, letters going to the islanders were addressed to Beach, Washington, rather than Lummi Island.  William Lincoln Richards became the official Post Master and remained so until the acreage and store were sold in 1910.

Elizabeth Margaret continued to assist at the store for several years.  However, Ripley and three of their sons moved to Fairhaven in 1903-04.  After Ripley’s death in 1905, Elizabeth Margaret, four sons, and several grandsons lived at 703 21st Street until  1914. That is probably why Elizabeth Margaret Richards allocated the property on Lummi Island to William Lincoln and his wife Neva in March 1910, so they could sell it to Louis Buchholz on April 19, 1910 for the sum of one thousand dollars.

Ripley died at his home on 21st street in May 1905 at the age of 77; graveside services in Bayview Cemetery were conducted by members of GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) of which he was a member.  Elizabeth Margaret died at 81 in April of 1920 while staying at the home of her son William Lincoln Richards in Bellingham and was laid to rest next to her husband Ripley and one of their sons, Otis, in Bayview Cemetery.

Ju{y 2001– LeRoy W. and Alice Richards


Recent information from Lillian Compton Bassett (granddaughter of Althera Richards Compton and daughter of Miles Warren Compton) reports that this family has been traced as far back as the 1600’s in America.  Elizabeth Margaret Turney Richards had this large family and Althera was the eldest.  Ripley was a great wanderer and didn’t stay home much–he wandered all over the U.S. and finally ended up in Whatcom County when he notified the family that and told them to move out from Wisconsin.  Elizabeth Margaret and several of her boys moved out and settled on Lummi Island where they built a store and held dances.  Her boys and a couple of Althera’s sons had a little band and played the mouth organ, Jew’s harp, fiddle, etc. for dances.  This same building known as the (named for the first postmaster John Ward Beach) still stands and is on the State Register of Historical Buildings.

This data from research by Alice and LeRoy Wayne Richards, son of Russell Richards
252 South Garden Street, Bellingham, Washington 98225
May 1996


Funeral of R. J. Ripley May 9., 1905

The funeral of Rlpley J. Richards, the Civil War veteran, who died at his home, 703 21st St., yesterday morning, will be held at the funeral parlors of W. H. Mark and sons tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock. Rev. James Thompson, pastor of the Presbyterian Church on the south side, will officiate. Apperson post number 59, G. A. R. Of which Mr. Richards was a member, will conduct the services at the grave

The funeral car will leave 21st St. and Harris Avenue at 1:15 PM, carrying the funeral party to the chapel. Interment will be made in Bayview Cemetery all old soldiers are invited to attend the services.


MRS. RICHARDS DEAD Monday, April18, 1920

Well known local woman is dead at age of eighty one

Mrs. Elizabeth M. Richards, 81, died at the home of her son William L. Richards, 2422 Elk St., Sunday evening after an illness of about three weeks.  Mrs. Richards had been a resident of Bellingham for 18 years.  Her husband, Ripley J. Richards, Civil War veteran, passed away 11 years ago.  The dead woman is survived by five sons William, Russell and Leo of Bellingham and Warren and Llewellyn, of Wisconsin: four daughters, Mrs. Arthur Compton of Bellingham; Mrs. Mary Weatherwax and Mrs. Violet Case of Wisconsin, and Mrs. Jenny Wickwire, of Idaho; 39 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.  The funeral will be conducted from the chapel of Arthur C. Harlow 1055 Elk St., Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock, the Rev. T. E. Elliott officiating.  Interment will be made in Bayview Cemetery.


For Memorial day

  1. A. R. Veterans will prepare fitting program for anniversary.

Veterans of the Civil War and members of the local G. A. R. will meet Friday to arrange a program for Memorial day, which falls on May 30.  It has been decided to invite Rev. John W. Flesher to deliver the memorial address and Rev. W. R. Cox will preach the sermon on Memorial Sunday, the Sunday preceding May 30.  The following committee has the matter in charge: Rev. H. K. White, J. B. Lewis, S. E. Fancy, J. J. Edens and R. B. Meacham.


Richards Family Necrology

Husband: Ira Richards

         Born: April 24, 1796                                                    in Vermont
         Married: Abt. 1817                                                       in Vermont

Wife: Annah

         Born: February 02, 1797                                              in Vermont
         Died: September24, 1849


         Name: Bradley Richards                                             in Vermont
         Born: September 06, 1818
         Died: May 01, 1863

Name: Luthera Richards
         Born: August 17, 1820                                                 in Vermont
         Died: December 22, 1825                                            in Vermont

Name: Hanson Richards

         Born: May 03, 1822                                                     in Vermont

Name: Chauncy F. Richards

         Born: April 20, 1824                                                    in Vermont

Name: Ripley Jonathan Richards

         Born: April 19, 1828                                                    in Vermont

         Died: May 08, 1905                                                     in Bellingham, Washington

         Burial: May 1905                                                          in Bayview Cemetery, Bellingham, Washington

         Married: October 23, 1854                                          in New London, Wisconsin

         Spouse: Elizabeth Margaret Turney


Name: Altheria E. Richards

         Born: February 08, 1830                                              in Vermont


Name: Norman Ira Richards

         Bom: January 02, 1833                                                in Vermont


Name: Edwin Richards    

         Born: August 08, 1835                                                 in Vermont


Name: Russell J. Richards    

         Born: September 28, 1838                                            in Vermont


Name: Hester Anna Richards    

         Born: September 08, 1842                                            in Vermont


Husband: Ripley Jonathan Richards

         Born: April 19, 1828                                                    in Vermont

         Married: October 23, 1854                                          in New London, Wisconsin

         Died: May 08, 1905                                                     in Bellingham, Washington

         Father: Ira Richards

         Mother: Annah


Wife: Elizabeth Margaret Turney

         Born: February 12, 1839                                              in Pennsylvania

         Died: April 18, 1920                                                    in Bellingham, Washington



Name: Althera Emeline Richards                                      

         Born: March 11. 1857                                                  in Liberty. Antagomie, Wisconsin

         Married: Abt 1874                                                        in Wisconsin

         Died: March 19, 1933                                                  in Bellingham, Washington


Name: Warren Perry Richards  

         Born: June 07, 1859                                                     in Wisconsin


Name: William Lincoln Richards  

         Born: February 13, 1862                                              in Liberty, Wisconsin

         Married: 1888                                                               in Wisconsin

         Died: September 15, 1940                                            in Whatcom County, Washington

         Spouse: Neva Estelle Case


Name: Mary Annah (Mamie) Richards  

         Born: April 26, 1864                                                     in Wisconsin


Name: Llewellyn Richards  

         Born: March 30, 1867                                                  in Wisconsin

         Married: Abt 1888                                                        in Wisconsin

         Died: January 17,1955                                                 in Wisconsin

         Spouses: Mary Elizabeth Tatroe, Annie Cunningham


Name: Otis Arden Richards  

         Born: April 17, 1870                                                     in Wisconsin

         Married: Abt 1907  

         Died: April 18, 1914                                                     in Bellingham, Washington

  Spouse: Catherine


Name: Jennie Richards  

         Born: December 24, 1873                                            in Wisconsin

         Married: Abt 1893                                                        in Wisconsin

Spouse: Elihu Wickware


Name: Violet Lillian Richards  

         Born: May 17, 1877                                                      in Wisconsin

  Spouse: Case


Husband: William Lincoln Richards

         Born: February 13, 1862                                              in Liberty, Wisconsin

         Married: 1888                                                               in Wisconsin

         Died: September 15, 1940                                           in Whatcom County, Washington

         Father: Ripley Jonathan Richards

         Mother: Elizabeth Margaret Tumey


Wife: Neva Estelle Case

         Born: March 06, 1872                                                  in Roygan, Wisconsin

         Died: August 01, 1946                                                 in Whatcom County, Washington

         Father: Irvin J. Case

         Mother: Sarah J.



Name: Elizabeth Sarah (Bessie) Richards

         Born: August 02, 1891                                                 in Wisconsin

         Died: April 18, 1969                                                    in Whatcom County, Washington

         Married: Abt. 1910                                                       in Whatcom County, Washington

         Spouse: Walter Harold (Pete) Seelye


Name: Hugh Edwin Richards

         Born: February 18, 1893                                              Antigo, Langlade County, Wisconsin

         Died: February 08, 1978                                              in Bellingham, Washington

Spouse: Alice Amos


Name: Beatrice E. Richards

         Born: August 1895                                                       in Wisconsin

         Spouse: Webber


Name: Raymond L. Richards

         Born: June 1896                                                           in Wisconsin

Died: October 29, 1918                                                         in Bellingham, Washington


Name: Delbert W. Richards

         Born: July 1898                                                            in Wisconsin


Name: Roger Richards

         Born: April 20, 1900                                                    on Lummi Island, Whatcom County, Wash

         Died: May 03, 1900                                                     on Lummi Island, Whatcom County, Wash.


Name: Goldie Richards

         Born: June 20, 1901                                                     on Lummi Island, Whatcom County, Wash

         Died: ay 03, 1902                                                         on Lummi Island, Whatcom County, Wash


Name: Irvin Richards

         Born: Abt. 1904                                                            on Lummi Island, Whatcom County, Wash


Name: Marshall Richards

         Born: Abt, 1907                                                            on Lummi Island, Whatcom County, Wash


Name: Russell Richards                                                       Antigo, Langlade County, Wisconsin

         Born: March 21. 1880

         Married: May 05, 1920                                                in Portland, Oregon

         Died: April 01. 1955                                                     in Bellingham, Washington

         Spouse: Clara Frederica Willamina Kirchner


Name: Leon Turney Richards

         Born: December 19, 1883                                            in Wisconsin

         Married: December 26, 1912

         Died: December 20, 1968                                            in Bellingham, Washington

  Spouse: Edith Dolly Palmer


Husband: Leon Turney Richards

         Born: December 19, 1883                                            in Wisconsin

         Married: December 26, 1912

         Died: December 20, 1968                                            in Bellingham, Washington

         Father: Ripley Jonathan Richards

         Mother: Elizabeth Margaret Turney


Wife: Edith Dolly Palmer

         Born: October 18, 1894                                                in Wild Rose Prairie, Washington

         Died: May 29, 1980                                                     in Spokane, Washington

         Father: Peter A. Palmer

         Mother: Etna Pearl Kingen

         Other Spouses: Miller



Name: Miles Gordon Richards                                          

         Born: March 26, 1914                                                 

         Married: July 29, 1944  

         Spouse: Clara Corigliano  


Name: Glenn Palmer Richards  

         Born: July 08, 1915  

         Spouse: Thelma Morrow  


Name: Pearl Margaret Richards  

         Born: May 16,1917                                                      in Bellingham, Washington

         Married: June 26, 1936                                                in Richland, Washington

         Died: July 19, 1971                                                      in Richland, Washington

         Spouse: Marvin Miller Skeen  


Name: Vernon Leon (Scotty) Richards  

         Born: March 03, 1919                                                  in Bellingham, Washington

         Married: February 11 1945                                          in Spokane, Washington     

         Spouse: Beryl Darrow


Name: Paul Hubert Richards  

         Born: March 12, 1921                                                 

         Died: December 13, 1994  

         Spouses: Margaret Yarroll, Geraldine (Gerri) Verda


Name: Wayne Elmore Richards  

         Born: November 18, 1922                                           in Twisp. Washington

         Married: December 01 1946                                        in Millwood, Washington

         Died: March 14, 1993                                                  in Bellevue, Washington

         Spouse: Barbara Lou Ramey


Name: Peter Ripley Richards  

         Born: November 19,1924  

  Spouse: Patricia Murphy


Name: Marjorie Dell Richards  

         Born: February 26, 1931

  Spouse: Norman Hunter  



Author and date unknown (Probably Beth Hudson about 1980 -1085)

The Beach Store has been an integral part in the Lummi Island community for nearly 100 years.  It is the island’s only historically registered structure (Washington State Register of Historic Places) and its past reflects its position at the hub of the island’s society, economies and community.  Its name, “Beach Store” is rich in historic significance inasmuch as Beach was the name of the “town” before it was changed to Lummi Island in 1946.  John Wade Beach was one of the original homesteaders on the island and in 1882 he became the first postmaster.  In those days, the name of the post­master frequently became the name of the town. so for the next 60 years, Lummi Island was known as Beach. Washington.  John brought mail and supplies from Little Chuckanut Village on his sailboat once a week-sometimes more. weather permitting.  His office was in the headquarters camp for Bacus Logging Company, who logged the first growth of timber off the island.

The period after the turn of the century was an exciting time on Lummi Island.  The salmon fishery boomed. bringing with it a big jump in population and general activity.  The Beach Store was built right at the beginning of this era of growth.  A new dock for ferry service was built across from the Beach Store and eventually three large canneries. employing several hundred workers. were constructed.  Several of the fish traps around the island were counted as the richest producing traps on Puget Sound.

The island’s growth was reflected in the utilization of the Beach Store.  The upstairs was converted into a dance hall and meeting place for box socials. Grange meetings, fisherman’s union sessions and political activities.  The main floor served primarily as a grocery, but was also home to the post office, the fire station and originally boasted the only telephone on the island.  When the new ferry dock became operational. the store became a passenger terminal for people waiting for the ferry.  For over 50 years it was the place to sit and watch folks come and go. get caught up on local gossip. and shop.

During the Depression the island’s canneries closed and the population declined drastically.  The remaining islanders limped along and early in 1945. as the war was ending, a returning veteran, Harold Long (called Shifty for reasons unknown) and his wife. Gladys, bought the store.  They completed many needed repairs and during their tenure of 25 years.  the Beach Store continued as an island center.

The property changed hands three more times. going into a period of decline until the present owners. Mark and Elisabeth Marshall. bought it in 1984 and began pursuing their goals of restoring and preserving the Beach Store. making it once again a self-sustaining and functional part of the community.


         The Beach Store, as it is known today, sits on some of the first land settled on Lummi Island.  The name Beach comes not from the shoreline over which the store looks, but from a pioneer homesteader on the Island, John (Wade) Beach.  The sheltered property on the lee side of the Island where the store sits changed hands a number of times before 1901. But in that year Elizabeth M. Richards acquired the property and had a large new grocery built with an apartment behind and a large meeting room upstairs.  There had been a shed building operated as a store before that, but the Beach Store was the first store on the island to look like one.  The store became the island’s post office that year and remained so until 1941.  (During those years, letters going to the Islanders were addressed to Beach, Washington, rather than Lummi Island.)

         Along with her son, William, Elizabeth Richards ran the post office out of the store, then called Beach Grocery, until May 18, 1910, when she sold .it to Louis F. Buchholz. Buchholz also took over duties as postmaster from Wm. Richards that summer.  During the years that Buchholz ran the store, very few changes were made to the building, but the community around it grew tremendously.  Three large canneries employed several hundred workers, many of them Orientals.  Several of the fish traps on the Island were counted among the highest producing traps on Puget Sound.  The famous Allsop Trap which Pacific American Fisheries purchased for $90,000 in 1899 was just off the shore on Lummi Island’s westside.  It was the richest trap on the Sound for several years.  With the Island’s population, the upstairs of the store became a meeting place for dances, box socials, Grange meetings and political discussions.  About 1925 a public ferry service began operating from a dock which was built immediately across. from the store.

         The store then became a sort of passenger terminal for people’ waiting for the ferry and its porch began a run of over fifty years as “the best place on the Island to sit and watch folks come and go.”  As automobiles became common on the Island the store began selling gasoline and giving directions to the hundreds of tourists that visited the Island each year. To all of them the white store was a landmark.  For a time the only telephone on the Island was in the Beach Grocery as was the only fire station, but in time a telephone exchange building was constructed behind the store and service was extended to some private homes (the concrete’ exchange building still stands).

         In 1926 the store was sold to Wallace Coleman and he changed the name to Coleman’s Mercantile, but he kept it white ‘with a cedar shingle roof as it had, always been.  Since he was buying a post office as well as a business, Coleman became the postmaster as had all the store’s owners.  Coleman kept the store up through the depression and from photos taken during those years it looked no worse for the economic climate.  The island’s canneries closed early in the 1930’s and the population dropped off, but fishermen and farmers organized upstairs to see that the islanders got by during the hard depression years. Early in August, 1945, just as the war was ending, a returning veteran and his wife bought the store and changed the name to the Beach Store in honor of the Island’s first postmaster.  Harold and Gladys Long went right to work on the store. They built a separate cold storage locker building and warehouse behind the store and. put large driftwood logs underneath to reinforce the foundation.  But they never changed the building itself, not even the crisp white color.  In 1955, the Long’s built the house they now live in next to the ferry dock and moved out of the store.  They continued to operate the Beach Store until they retired in 1970 and sold it to Bill and Virginia Smith. The Smith’s then sold the store to its current owners in 1977.

         The future of the Beach Store was in serious doubt until early this year.  But this Spring a group of’ Islander’s created the Lummi Island Historical and Preservation Society with the express aim of preserving the store for use again as a community center.  A structural engineer examined the store in June and found it to be sound and tight.  The only danger to its future is the increased demand-for shoreline island property by developers.  Now as in the past, the Beach Store is the community focal point on Lummi Island. – – Elizabeth Richards


From September, 1970 Tome

The following historical time travelling was unearthed and compiled by Claire Hawley after searching the archives of antiquity and picking the memory of the few old timers left.  We think she did a terrific job and we all thank her.

B E A C H   G R 0 C E R Y

(Historical facts by factual Claire)

As Harold and Gladys Long leave Beach Grocery we feel it’s an excellent time to jot down a few facts on the history of the island store.  The best we can figure the name derived from an old timer Wade H. Beach who was the island’s first postmaster in 1882, bringing mail from Whatcom. (later Bellingham) in his sailboat once a month, or more, weather permitting.  The office was located near where the Earl Granger family lives now. That was headquarters camp of Baccus Logging Co., who logged the first growth of timber off the island.

In 1899 Albion F. Bowden became postmaster and established the office in his store.  This store (possibly the island’s first) was located near where the John O’Rourkes live.  Molly’s horse stable is almost on the spot.  Mr. Bowden had a wharf out from the point on his property, so mail and supplies came by boat once a week.

William I. Richards, who was also a postmaster, built BEACH GROCERY in 1901.  He sold to Louis F. Buchholz and his wife Pauline on May 18, 1910.  They sold in 1926 to Wallace Coleman.  The store maintained a post office until 1941 when L. A. Ford became postmaster and moved the office to his home on Centerview Road.

Harold Long and wife Gladys purchased Beach Grocery from Wallace Coleman, Harold’s stepfather, on August 1 of 1945.  Harold was born in Chicago, Illinois and Gladys is from North Dakota.  Harold served 2  1/2 years in World War II and had been employed in Seattle, with Display Advertising before coming to the island.  The store grew with the island and as it grew the Longs added the cold storage lockers and a warehouse.  With the arrival of 1955 and ten years of confinement in the small living quarters in back of the store, Harold and Gladys moved into their new home overlooking the ferry landing.  In their 25 years at Beach Grocery the Longs helped serve our community in many ways.  Just to mention one, as a member of the fire department and by having the fire phone installed in the store.

So, with the passing of 25 years we the people of the island and scores more who visited our island will miss the Longs at Beach Grocery, but wish them many, many years of happy retirement.  And we welcome our new store owners Bill and Virginia Smith from California and wish them many successful years at the helm of Beach Grocery which came into being so many years ago.


[ TH:  the following appears to be the result of the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES INVENTORY NOMINATION FORM being passed to State of WA ]

Dixy Lee Ray Governor

111 West Twenty-First Avenue, Olympia, Washington 98504 206/753-4011

August 29, 1978


Michael Sullivan
Whatcom County Park and Recreation Board
3373 Mount Baker Highway
Bellingham, Washington 98225

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is pleased to inform you that BEACH STORE has been reviewed and accepted for placement in the Washington State Register of Historic Places.

We are pleased to add your property to this list of significant properties that have contributed to the history, archaeology, architecture and culture of the state of Washington.

Congratulations for this honor.


Jeanne M. Welch
Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer

October 1979


         The lockers are finished and open at last at ‘The Old Beach Store.  We had to do more than first thought so it took a little longer.  We have installed an auxiliary power plant in case of power failure to protect people’s food.  The lockers rent for $19.50 per year for 8 cubic feet and $24.00 per year for 10 cubic feet.

         For those of you that have not heard what is going to happen at the old Beach Store, we are going to ·open a deli and restaurant with soup, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and breakfast starting at 6:00 AM for the early ferry people and dinner specials daily with 8:00 AM opening on Sunday.  We hope to start operating right after Thanksgiving if we can get all the work completed and the inspector’s approvals.

         Joan and I have looked for the right place for a long time, with the right people and atmosphere on the water …so here we are.  I’ll tell you, it’s hard to get Joan off the Island.

         We will be open year around and at the same hours every day, and by the way, Joan and Polly Hansen have cooked up something special for us all …. an extension of the library in the front portion of the store, with lots of books, tapes, pictures and all the rest.  They not only get some of, my space, but now I’m gonna be a librarian too!

         Looking forward to meeting you all real soon.                                        – – Jim, Joan & Gabe Stewart

                                                                                                                                        The Old Beach Store

April 1988

        Gladys has had long association with Lummi Island.  She and Harold moved here in 1945 when they took over the Beach Store from Harold’s stepfather, Wallace Coleman.  Mr. Coleman had bought the store in 1926 when he also became our Postmaster.  In those days Beach Store was truly a “Country Store” with the Post Office in a corner of the store.  After operating the store for twenty-five years, the Longs sold it to the Smiths in 1970.

September 1991

BEACH STORE REOPENS                                                                                                                      .. Ed.

        It has been a long wait watching the renovations at the Beach Store, but at last it is really open for business again.  Thanks to Mark and Elisabeth Marshall for continuing the long tradition and retaining the words Beach Store in their name.  It’s not really a store now — it is more like a restaurant.  It doesn’t have. the post office in the corner like Wallace Coleman’s Beach Store or the coal-oil lanterns and shovels hanging from the beams.  But it’s a nice place to eat.

July, 1995

THE NEW BEACH STORE                                                                                                                       ‑ ‑ ed

         Beach Store Cafe proprietors Mark and Elisabeth Marshall report that after eleven years of repairing, refurbishing and decorating, the restoration of the historic Beach Store is finally completed.  See their hours of operation at the bottom of the CALENDAR on page 1.

July 1995

         Mrs. Smith was born in Kentucky and was an accountant and office manager in the air conditioning industry in Seattle and San Diego.  She was also a hospital controller for many years.  In August of 1970 Virginia and her husband William Smith purchased Beach Grocery Store from Harold and Gladys Long who were retiring from business.  The Smiths operated the Beach Store as the only grocery store on Lummi Island until 1974 when they retired and moved to a home in the Isle Aire Beach Community on Lummi Island.  In 1990 they moved to Bellingham.

November/December 1997

HISTORIC BEACH STORE BACK IN BUSINESS                                                                                   ed

         Congratulations to new Beach Store Cafe proprietors, father & son, Robin and Jason Burnett plus Janice Richardson.  Beach Store is returning again as the only cafe on the Island (see ad below), continuing the long tradition of the name and the building.  This is a good opportunity to briefly review the history of the Beach Store and the property on which it stands.

1890 William Bacus first owned the property.

1890 Owned by Harrison Bacus

1895 Owned by J.B. Bennet

1899 Owned by Adelaide C. Guion

1901 Elizabeth Richards and her son William bought the property and built the store as a general country store.  She named it Beach Store‑‑not after the pebbles on the beach below, but after the settlement of Beach which in turn was named by our first postmaster, Wade H. Beach.  The Post Office was moved into the new Beach Store and remained there in continuous operation until 1941.

1910 Beach Store sold to Louis Buchholz.  With the Island’s growth, the upstairs of the store became a meeting place for dances, box socials, Grange meetings & political discussions.

1926 Wallace Coleman bought the store and continued its operation as a country general store under the name Beach Store, but there is some evidence that he also used the name, “Coleman’s Mercantile” in his business.

1945 Wallace’s stepson, Harold Long, returned from the war and bought the store from his stepfather.  Harold and his wife, Gladys, continued the tradition for another 25 years.

1970 Bill & Virginia Smith bought the store and continued as a general store.

1977 Smiths sold the store to David and Linda Sklar who were the last to operate Beach Store as an actual general store.

19?? Joan Stewart made an unsuccessful attempt to change the store to an eatery.

1984 Mark & Lis Marshall bought the store and spent the next few years restoring the building which had been abused and deteriorated.  They eventually opened as The Beach Store Cafe and operated a very elegant cafe featuring ultra‑fresh salads & veggies from their own garden out back.

1997 Under the current new ownership, we‑ wish Beach Store good fortune and anticipate a very neat and convenient place to eat out in “down town” Lummi Island. Viva Beach Store!

June 1999

DEAR FRIENDS, on the subject of the Beach Store Cafe. . .                        by Kevin Jones & Mary Boire

        We’ve all been grievously disappointed by the recent closure of the Beach Store Cafe. Over the last few months of its operation, the business seemed to be sinking irrevocably, so Jason Burnett, who has subsidized it with his own labor and money for almost two years, was forced to close it.  Having graduated from college, he will shortly be starting a job in Washington D.C. which will not leave him the time or energy to continue shepherding the cafe along.

        My wife, Mary Boire and I, encouraged by all the expressions of dismay we’ve heard over the Cafe’s closure, have volunteered to relieve Jason of his weight of decision-making responsibility so he can get on with his life unencumbered.  He has advanced the Cafe a very limited sum of money for a new start and we have agreed to do what we can to muster Island support for one more try.

        So, here’s the straight skinny: The continuing survival of the Cafe is in the hands of those of us who live here on Lummi Island.  Meredith Iaci, the new manager, can’t make it a success without all the help she can get: your patronage, positive “vibes” and whatever other resources you can volunteer.  There isn’t a great deal of startup money available; the Cafe staff will initially be small, and the open hours limited.  We hope that Islanders will be forgiving, remembering that you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time.  If things aren’t perfect, please be patient.  Meredith and her staff are doing their very best.

October 1999

WE ACKNOWLEDGE                                                                                                            – – Aaron Weiss

        From time to time I have honored and acknowledged key business establishments on the Island for the important part they have played in enhancing the quality of life of Lummi Islanders.  In this issue, one of the outstanding business establishments that I believe deserve much recognition is …


The history of the Beach Store Cafe has been outlined in previous issues indicating its very early years as a store, a post-office and also as an eatery.  Today however it has gained recognition as an outstanding and popular restaurant being patronized by Island residents, their guests, off-island visitors and mainland residents.

        The popularity and enthusiastic acceptance of the Cafe has been due to the cooperation and effort of a whole team of people working as one, to achieve the one goal of providing excellent food at fair prices with service that is efficient, friendly and professional in an ambience that is enjoyable and entertaining.

        Since the re-opening of The Beach Store Cafe on June 17th, the Island community has been giving it overwhelming support.  I am told that they will be able to stay open for the winter season until at least December 31, 1999 when there may be a brief, but temporary closing so that the staff can take a well-deserved break.  The Cafe then plans to reopen in February 2000.

        Much of the credit for the success of the Cafe must go to the ‘chemistry’ of the staff.  It is composed of all Island employees.  The menu and the ambience reflect the many and diverse needs of our community.  The Kitchen Manager, Jean Hoene, and her co-worker, “Arizona” Joe Dowell have found the perfect combination of items to suit everyone’s individual tastes.  From Tofu to Top Sirloin as well as Pancakes to Pizza, these two turn out the same excellent quality and consistency of their creations night after night and at Sunday brunches as well.

        The high quality of service to the patrons comes from Lauren Gibboney, Buffy Fox, Jennifer Stiff, Miya Southworth, Tami Chock and Meredith Iaci.  The ‘unsung heroes’ who work in the back, but who are just as important as the serving personnel are Shiloh Hepper, Christopher Eklund, Brad Mitchell, John McGarry, Jake Harvey, Emma Barling, and Leif Miller.

The entire team of the Cafe workers has brought it to a place where they all feel comfortable and proud of their work and can feel the community’s acceptance and pride.

        I would be amiss if this column did not honor and acknowledge Jason Burnett and his family who gave birth to the renewed Beach Store Cafe and has continued to make it thrive and become independently successful.

        The Island community feels rightfully thankful and proud to have The Beach Store Cafe in its midst.


Couple revives Lummi Island’s Beach Store Cafe

By Jack Kintner, Bellingham Herald  October 6, 2003

FOOD: Business partners also own Nettles Farm, The Willows.

LUMMI ISLAND – When Riley Starks and Judy Olsen started the Nettles Farm on the west side of Lummi’ Island in 1992, they weren’t expecting to go into the restaurant business, let alone become the island’s largest employer.  But two years ago they bought and re-opened the 82-year-old Willows, which had been closed for three years, as an eight-room bed and breakfast with a fine dining restaurant that has postcard views of island sunsets.  They added the downstairs Taproot coffee shop. which in the afternoons becomes the Taproot Cafe and Pub.

They became the largest employers on the island earlier this year when they bought and re­opened the Beach Store Cafe, and their island neighbors are glad they did.  Aside from the on-island jobs it provides, the cafe is a tradition with 117 years of island history behind it.

The cafe is in a bright yellow building a short walk north of the ferry landing.  It’s served as the social hub of the island for over a century, located in what was once the town of Beach – named after early settler John (sic – his name was Wade) Beach, the town’s first postmaster, in 1882.  Four years later, A.F. Bowden started a trading post where the store building is now, across from the old ferry landing site.  The current structure was built in 1902.

Last January, the cafe closed, s it often has in the past when business dies off in the winter, but the previous owners didn’t reopen in the spring.  “Some of us were getting kind of anxious,” said cafe manager and six-year employee Lauren Gibboney, 29, who had considered buying it herself when Starks and Olsen stepped in.  The couple now employs “26 to 28 people, something like that,” according to Starks, in their three island restaurants.

Business is good. Olsen said that they bought the Beach Store Cafe as a way of expanding their coffee shop. “We were getting maxed out downstairs (at the Taproot),” she said.  “We just love food,” said Olsen, a native of Cape Cod. Mass., “which is why we’re crazy enough to be in the restaurant business at all.”

Running three of them and a working truck farm on an island with less than 1,000 full-time residents takes more than lunacy, though. Starks, an Everett native and 1973 graduate of Western Washington University, said “this is who we are, this is a lifestyle we’ve chosen, and exhausting as it can be, we’re happy doing it”

They’re a part of the Slow Food movement, a world-wide association of food and wine enthusiasts who emphasize food as a way of providing hospitality and concern over the decreasing biodiversity of the world’s food supply.  Starks said the Slow Food movement began in Italy when the first McDonald’s opened in 1986.

The care that Starks and Olsen try to take with both harvesting and preparation leads to some unusual creations, like pink salmon fish and chips.  “The difference is that (the pink salmon) are reefnet caught and bled live, so that they never have an off, fishy flavor.  I really think they’re better than halibut as fish and chips,” Starks said. .

Starks has hired chef Chad Clarke to redesign the menu and streamline the operation at the Beach Store Cafe.  Clarke studied under David Kellaway at the Salish Lodge outside Seattle and was the original chef at Bellingham’s Orchard Street Brewery when it opened in 1994.  Bob Prince from the W Hotel in Seattle is replacing Clarke for the month of October.

Olsen and Starks began at the Nettles Farm by selling eggs, and then branched out into vacuum­sealed whole chickens.  Starks said they’re the only source outside France for free-range whole chickens prepared that way.  For three years, they maintained one of the few CSDA-approved slaughterhouses in the area, but with the increasing demands of the restaurant business they’ve cut back a bit, from a peak of 6,000 birds sold annually to just 2.000 in 2003.

Their gourmet chickens are still sold at Bellingham’s Community Food Co-op.  Their pasta is available in stores like Larry’s Markets all over western Washington and in Bellingham at the co-op as well as at the Fairhaven Red Apple Market.

“The reefnetters used to come in (to what is now The Taproot) for lunch beginning in the ’30’s,” said Starks, also a reefnetter, “and we’re still using the same lunch counter. ” The pub has an attached movie room that islander Don VanValkenburgh described as “all couches, with one easy chair.  No folding chairs. No straight backs.  Just buckets of ease.”  Island poet Ron Granich runs the movie nights.

Gibboney said that the Beach Store Cafe can get crowded, too, “like the last couple of days of drydock (when only passenger ferry service is available), when people began running out of groceries. We were packed!”

Patron Rebecca Miller said the food – and more – brings in customers.  “You can come here and get the same quality food as the Willows but for less, and it’s also where we see each other and get to alk” Miller said. “It’s like a big room  full of kitchen tables.”

More info

  • The Beach Store Cafe, 2200 North Nugent, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Information: 758-2569.
  • The Willows, 2579 West Shore Drive, is open for dinner 5:30 to 8:30 o.pm Friday and Saturday.

Reservations are recommended. Information: 758-2620.

  • Taproot Cafe and Pub is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and until 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, when the Beach’ Store is closed.

Check menus, prices and other details at https://www.willows-inn.com/. com!


(Note:  This Beach Store advertising “Bullet”ran for at least several months in 1991, 1992)

Est. 1991 Lummi Island

Beach Bullet

The official publication of Beach Store Café

September 1992

New fall hours!!!

Starting after Labor Day the Beach store Café will begin fall hours:

* Dinners Thursday-Sunday 530 to 9:30 PM

* Sunday brunch 9 AM to 2 PM


“Shifty” relents! After numerous persistent requests for all day breakfast on Sunday the maestro has finally outdone himself. The Beach store Café will begin serving Sunday brunch starting the week after Labor Day from 9 AM to 2 PM!  For those wanting eggs Benedict at the beach store the wait is over!  We will Benedict you with ham, fresh cracked crab from “Leo’s live”, smoked salmon and more!  The Sunday brunch offerings will feature Beach store favorites like homemade corned beef hash and excellent specialty omelets.  And watch for the blintz (what’s a blintz?) Must be an advertising gimmick-the Goodyear blintz? The excellent fresh bakery goods will be joined by a new addition:-turnovers of every size, shape, and flavor! So, don’t miss it!  Succulent crab au gratin, black beans, fresh salsa, avocados or smoked pork chops with new Beach store potatoes, and blends


“Shifty” says to make your move on your favorite deli meats and cheeses.  Compare quality and prices and you won’t find a better deal than the beach store for fresh deli delights!


When one looks at Shifty, one wonders how old is old.  He’s been around a long time, loves his stories, history.  He remembers the first culture around these parts back in 600 BC.  This was a land-based people called the Marpole who flourished through all the islands until 400 A.D. the Marpole were succeeded by the Salishean, a marine-based culture with a fine development of fishing articrafts using bones and antler tools.  Damn By the 18th century the culture known as Nuh Lummis and spread over the North Puget Sound. With ample and easily acquired food there was little warfare between villages, but a serious and powerful enemy developed from the northern Pacific coast.  They were a tall and powerful people with excellent weapons and war armor of hide and wood.  They were slavers, and in the spring will descend from the north, raid villages, taking slaves.  These raids continued for over 100 years. Sa Ump Ki a Lummi chief and great warrior decided to end it.  He set an ambush for the northern raiders watch was kept and when the northern canoes were cited, messengers were sent to all Lummi villages and warriors gathered in the forest, a number of Lummi or canoes went out apparently to engage the Northerners, but retreated before them leading them to the beach.  The Lummis dashed into the woods and were followed by the enemy the forest erupted with the hidden Lummi’s and after several hours of fighting the raiders  succumbed.  . This deterred raiding of the Lummis by these northern tribes.

Updated: 2021/06/18 @ 10:41 pm Tark Henderson

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