315 First Street
In The Country Store (Residence)
1929: House Built
The house was constructed in two stages in the years 1929 and 1930 for Frank and Frances Niles. Frank founded the local weekly newspaper, The Whidby (sic) Record, in 1923.
1929. Niles home as shown on the 1929 Sanborn Insurance map (Courtesy South Whidbey Historical Society).
An addition was added to the north side of the original house in 1930.
Sketch by Wilmer ("Bill") Niles: son of Frank and Francis Niles. (Courtesy of Cynthia Tilkin).
According to Frank's son Wilmer John (Bill) Niles, "All rooms had at least two exits. Frank Niles lost the use of his right leg and regained only partial use of his left leg as a result of a polio epidemic in 1924. This combined with a very healthy respect for fire generated the design.
During the time we occupied the basic house my "bedroom" was a wooden bunk built over the bathtub. My sister slept on a 'daybed', (an obsolete type of convertible couch) in the living room. She was six and I was five at the time." Through the use of hand extension levers on the gas and brake pedals he was able to operate a car although shifting gears remained a chore, as the first automatic gear shifts did not become commonly available until about 1935. To make things a little easier, the garage was constructed as a drive thru with rolling doors (the front one now long unused) at both ends."
Niles sold the paper to George Astel, in 1934.
According to Fran Johnson, the home was next owned by Mr. and Mrs. Eidel the school principal. The home was purchased from them by Ralph Noble, son of Langley banker Ernest Noble, Sr.
1989: In The Country
The building continued to serve as a residence until 1989, when Linda Lundren rented it and opened it as "In The Country" in the fall of 1989. She had the front stairway widened. After 9 months, the store was sold to Cynthia Tilkin in May of 1990.
According to Cynthia, the store originally sold furniture, decorative things for the home, gift foods and clothing. For the last 28 years the store has concentrated on women's clothing and interior design for "sophisticated and casual life in the country."
The front steps were repaired in 2017.
2017. In The Country Store (Courtesy Robert Waterman).