Whidbey Island is home to several wonderful little towns each with their own fascinating history and culture. Perhaps the most intriguing is Whidbey’s oldest town; Coupeville, home of the first Whidbey Island settlement.
Coupeville is an adorable waterfront community rich in history and culture. In 1850 Issac Ebey became the first official Whidbey Island settler when he applied for the first land claim on the island. Claiming over 600 acres of what is now Ebey’s Landing, Ebey was soon to be followed by his nephew and many others. By 1854 there were 29 settlement claims in Coupeville alone and in 1881 it officially became the Island County seat.
Although all of Whidbey is covered in fascinating history, Coupeville is unique in its preservation. Where many of the original buildings of Oak Harbor and Langley have been torn down or decimated by historic fires, downtown Coupeville’s original buildings remain intact and in use. In fact, the town of Coupeville has more historic buildings in a condensed area than anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.
To celebrate this fact and educate people on these beautiful historic buildings, Island County’s 4-H club took on the project of using modern technology to connect us to the past. Next time you’re in downtown Coupeville, take a closer look at those historic store windows. You might just see one of these:
Scattered down Front Street are tons of these QR codes leading to the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association website developed by the 4-H club in 2012. This website is full of information gathered from the Island County Historical Society, City Records, and over 100 personal interviews with people recounting memories and stories of the historic downtown. Each building’s QR code will lead you directly to that building’s history: when it was built, its original purpose, and the different stores that have occupied the space.
So, the next time you are strolling down Font Street whip out that smartphone of yours and learn a little bit of history along the way.
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