306 and 302 First Street

Office and L Studio Modern (Hotel / Post Office / Laundromat / Gallery / Two Totems / Edit and Brackenwood Gallery)

Circ 1906: Hotel Langley built.

Circa 1906: Hotel Langley built

In the early years of the 20th Century, Mr. McCarter built this two-story hotel on the northwest corner of First Street and Anthes Avenue to replace his first, smaller hotel across the street. Many early families arriving in Langley stayed at the hotel while building homes.

Circa 1908. Grounds behind the Hotel Langley sported a swing and benches (Courtesy of the Island County Historical Society)

A "Tourist Park" park with maple trees, benches and tables stretched from the street to the bluff that extended about 100 feet farther toward the water than it does today. A small cottage (right) served at times as a residence.


Circa 1920. A store and a small pergola were added to the front of the hotel (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).

A small store operated by Ariel Kuiper (pronounced "Cooper" by the locals) was added to the front of the hotel, and the name was changed to simply "Hotel." A small gazebo (right) was also added to the property.



1921 Hotel burning (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society)

On Monday, April, 4, 1921, a fire started near the chimney at the rear of Mr. Kuiper's store. The building was a total loss, but no one was seriously injured, and many personal belongings and some of the grocery stock were saved.

A newspaper report describes the scene: "The almost perfect stillness of the air, and the concerted efforts of residents, prevented destruction of the Langley State bank, on the opposite corner from the hotel; the telephone office and the residence of A, E. Peck, adjoining the grocery... The chemical engine purchased several years ago at a cost of $500, is not in a condition, and buckets and garden hose, were employed. Fifty feet of 1.75 inch hose, of the Jensen Company at the dock, was secured, but proved inadequate. Noting the impossibility of saving the grocery or hotel, efforts were directed to saving nearby buildings and the contents of the hotel and grocery. Men, women and children worked feverishly, and about half the grocery stock was saved."

"A bucket brigade was formed from the beach to the buildings, and roofs were kept wet until the worst of the blaze was past. The telephone office was afire several times, and the windows on the side nearest the fire were broken. The residence of Martin Mortensen also was on fire at several points and the large front windows were broken by the heat, The Stanley Hunziker house was also threatened. The bank building with a flat roof, was most directly in the path of the flames... The heat was so intense at the bank that the workers on the roof were obliged to wear a covering of blankets dipped in water... For hours men carried buckets of water and passed them to the roofs. Others, wet to the skin, used hose in an effort to reduce the heat to a safety point. Miss Bernice Hartley removing her shoes and stockings, waded into the cold waters of the bay and passed up pails of water to Misses Nellie Harmon and Ester Anderson, who also stood in water to receive the buckets... The 60-gallon hot water tank located in the kitchen exploded with great force, throwing the top of the tan over 100 feet in the air. Hot water fell like rain upon persons standing more than half a block away, but it was cooled sufficiently not to cause burns."

"The little frame pergola which stands near the corner of the hotel, next to the sidewalk, formerly covering the town pump, strangely escaped. ...and this morning it is the only remaining object where Monday stood two fine business establishments." The lot remained empty for 18 years.

1939 - 1960:Post Office

1939: New Post office (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).

A building was built by Ernest ("Ernie") Noble, jr. in 1938 on a portion of the lot left vacant after the hotel burned. The front of the building housed a new Post Office that replaced the previous one on the other side of First Street built in 1915. There was a small apartment in the rear for Ernie's mother. The post mistress, Miss Emma C. Cloke, later lived in the apartment. The building served as Langley's Post Office until 1960 when a new post office was built on Second Street.

1957. Post Office (Courtesy Darrell Corbin).

The bus station waiting room is seen between the Post Office and dog House Tavern (right).

1960: Post Office moved to Second Street

1973. Whirlomat Laundry and Dry Cleaners in the former post office (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).

Several businesses occupied the building in the decades after the Post Office moved to Second Street. These included a Good Cheer Thrift Shop, a laundry ("Whirlomat"), a pottery studio run by Ernie Noble's son, Ted (who added a pitched roof to the building), a T.V. and appliance repair shop, the Village Vintner, Hay Market Antiques, and a flower shop ("South Whidbey Flowers").

Circa 1980. The "Dunbrody Gallery" (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).

1983: Fine Art Galleries

1988. Childers/Proctor Gallery (Courtesy Ron Childers).

In 1988, artists Ron Childers and Richard Proctor occupied the building and named it the "Chiders/Proctor Gallery". Decorations were painted below the windows on the west side and window boxes were added. Later, the façade was painted yellow and the apartment in the rear of the building was operated as a Bed and Breakfast.


Ron and Richard sold the gallery in 1999 to Mel and Roxane Olson, who renamed the gallery the "Gaskill/Olson Gallery." A statue of Ron and Richard's dog "Reggie" by Georgia Gerber greeted visitors.

2008 Two Totems complex built

2008. Two Totems project built (Courtesy Robert Waterman.)

In 2008, the building was incorporated into a complex of condominiums and retail space known as the "Two Totems." The façade was removed exposing the old U. S. Post Office letters, and a second story was added. Once construction was complete, the gallery reopened as the "Karlson/Gray Gallery" under new owners Wendy Sunquist and Brian Lowey.

2009. Karlson/Gray Gallery (Courtesy Robert Waterman).

A small retail space (left) was located across the driveway at 306 First Street. The first tenant was Eddy's, a specialty clothing store, followed by an art gallery, and Edit, a specialty item store.

2009. Brackenwood Gallery (Courtesy Robert Waterman).

The Gallery was purchased in 2009 by Rene Neff and Anne Waterman. They renamed it "Brackenwood Gallery" in honor of the artist compound of the same name created in Langley by painters Peter and Margaret Camfferman from the 1920's to 1950's. The Brackenwood Gallery business was purchased by Jason Wasky in 2014.

2018: L Studio Modern

2018. L Studio Modern (Courtesy Robert Waterman.)

The Brackenwood Gallery was purchased by Elizabeth LaCount and Doyle Reno who opened L Studio Modern in 2018. Edit next door moved to a location further up First Street and was replaced with an office space.