E.M. Day Building:  Tenants through the Years

E.M. Day moved across the street to the Knights of Pythias building in 1907 and then Downtown in 1909. City directories over the years indicate a succession of tenants occupied this building. These include William Hurlbut Real Estate and Insurance, John R. Jarvis’s Cigars and Pool, Jason Odell Cigars, J. E. Tierney’s Cigars and Tobacco, Henry Gaffney’s Confectionary and Lawrence Vidmore’s Billiards.

During the 1930’s it was Elmer’s Place Restaurant and Card Room and later the Stag Beer Parlor and Restaurant. Dr. Peter Elich, who grew up on the Southside remembers when he was just a little boy, his grandmother would send him the block and a half from their home to the saloon to tell Nono, the Croatian name for grandfather, to "come home, it is time for dinner". His Grandfather, Andro Mardesich, would be playing cards with some of his old "Slav" buddies. Nono would take him by the hand and they would walk home together to dinner. "Nono” owned the So. Bellingham Grocery near 11th Street and Mill (the site now occupied by Fairhaven Bike & Ski) and was one of many fishermen who immigrated from the island of Vis, located in the Adriatic Sea. From the 1920’s through the 1940’s, most of the homes from 11th Street to 13th Street, just behind Taylor Dock, were owned by people of Croatian descent.

1960s Photo by Gordy Tweit
Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #1996.1.9427
The one-story E.M. Day Building sits between
the Monahan and Terminal Buildings
Nelson Block far right

The E.M. Day Building continued to house various bars in the 1950’s, including Norm and Del’s Tavern and the 11th Avenue Saloon. Pluto’s bar opened in the 1960s and was known as "that wild and crazy hippie place on 11th”. One long-time resident remembers that big-name artists such as Janice Joplin and Jerry Garcia would drop by between their Seattle and Vancouver concerts. Early in their careers, they would travel by bus, dropping by Pluto’s to jam with local musicians.

By the early 1970’s the building stood vacant. In 1974 it was remodeled for restaurant use and has been the location of the popular "Dirty Dan’s Restaurant” ever since.

Go to the Croatians tab, for more information on the Slav Community in Fairhaven.


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