Knights of Pythias:  Tenants Through the Years



Early Photo of McIntosh Hardware

When the building opened in 1891, it was referred to as the McDougall, Dodson, Gates and Fraser Building—all names of tenants that were anxious to move from their retail spaces on Harris Street to this new building. McDougall & Dodson was a clothing company. Gates and Fraser sold hardware and began what would be an 80 year tradition of a hardware store occupying this building. The McDougall, Dodson, Gates and Frasier group were gone by 1899.

According to Whatcom Museum Photo Historian Jeff Jewell, John M. Warriner, a skilled embalmer and Whatcom Count coroner, had moved from 14th Street and taken up luxurious digs in the Knights of Pythias Hall in the late 1890s. This funeral parlor was sold and moved downtown in 1903. Warriner was responsible for seeing that human remains from Fairhaven’s Dead Man's Point were removed. Most of these remains were reinterred at Bayview Cemetery.

George McIntosh apparently did not object to sharing the building for a few years with a funeral home. G. A. McIntosh Hardware Co. occupied this building from 1899 through 1905 selling appliances, bicycles and sporting goods as well as supplies for steamboats, loggers, painters, plumbers and fisherman. 

McIntosh Hardware was replaced in 1907 by a new plumbing and hardware company started by Bert W "Chip” Groom, Eugene Adams and Arthur Carter. According to local historian, Gordon Tweit, the three owners—Groom, Adams and Carter drew straws to determine the company’s name. The winner’s name was painted on the back of the building which still exists today—Adams & Co. Plumbing and Hardware.

By 1912, Bert Groom became the primary owner and the business was known for decades as Groom’s Hardware. At varying times from 1930 to 1972, Bert’s sons Frank and Bert Jr. operated the store. Bert Groom Sr. lived in on the second floor from the 1930s through the 1950s. Al’s Promart Home Center occupied the space for a few years after Groom Hardware left in 1972. The building was purchased by developer Ken Imus in the 1970s and it remained vacant for several years.

In 1980, Chuck and Dee Robinson started Village Books next door in the Fairhaven Cash Grocery Building. In 1985 Village Books expanded into the Knights of Pythias building. Colophon Café also arrived in 1985. The Café originally served only lattes, ice cream and bagels with cream cheese, so it is no surprise the cow is their mascot.

In 1988 a grand stairway was built for easy access to the basement which had been a tin shop and storage area.   Both the Colophon Cafe and Village Books took over the additional space downstairs. The Colophon Cafe expanded their restaurant (and menu) downstairs with décor that includes the over-sized pillars necessary to support the weight of the appliances and supplies once displayed on the floor above. The original hand-cranked elevator still exists today, but no longer moves between the two floors. It is easy to miss, but it is still there, currently used as a waiter’s station.  

In 2014, the Colophon Cafe vacated the upper floor and expanded it's restaurant downstairs.  A large photo of the updated Village Green Mural has been placed in the new space.  The photo includes local Fairhaven folks standing in front of their painted image!   It's a fun photo, not to be missed!      Drizzle Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Room now occupies the north side of the upper floor.  Culinary Creations (formerly Pacific Chef) occupies the south side.


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