Most Endangered Places: Marine Supply Block in Anacortes
September 3, 2019 | 12:45 pm
from Washington Trust
Marine Supply & Hardware building in downtown Anacortes.
By Jennifer Mortensen, Outreach Director
At the time it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, the “Marine Supply & Hardware Complex” included four structures. Starting on the north portion of the block and moving south down Commercial Avenue, the four buildings included the wood-frame Anacortes Junk Co. (formerly a livery stable), two square 50-foot by 50-foot buildings which together comprise the retail space of Marine Supply & Hardware, and the brick A. Olson Building on the southeast corner of the block. The buildings are a critical historical and visual link between the Anacortes commercial core and its working waterfront.
Marine Supply & Hardware started out in the livery stable building in 1916 as the Anacortes Junk Co., founded by Mike Demopoulos. In 1924, Demopoulos purchased the two neighboring buildings and changed the name of his business to Marine Supply & Hardware. Demopoulos bought a portion of the A. Olson Building in 1937 (including the shed that had been built in the alleyway between the Olson and Marine Supply & Hardware), acquired the remainder in 1976, and at the time of the 1987 National Register listing it was used for storage for Marine Supply & Hardware.
Demopoulos’ son Themo bought the business and the city block from his father’s estate in 1981 and operated Marine Supply & Hardware with his son, Steve. They sold the entire block to the Port of Anacortes in November 2014 and in 2017 sold the Marine Supply & Hardware business and its inventory to Roy and Lea Mayberry, owners of Alley Cat Antiques. The southern end of the Marine Supply & Hardware store was reconfigured to accommodate the Mayberrys’ antique store, and the northern end continues to house the old hardware store, complete with original staff.
With the major change in property ownership and the Port of Anacortes demolishing the old livery stable building earlier this year, local advocates nominated the remaining buildings on the block to the Most Endangered Places program. With the Marine Supply & Hardware Building having been such an integral part of the marine economy of Anacortes for so many decades and having owned all the buildings on the block for many of those years, it seemed appropriate for the three buildings (and alleyway infill) to be dubbed the Marine Supply Block.
In happier news, after public outcry over the Port expressing disinterest in the amount of investment it would take to rehabilitate the Olson Building, the Port recently gifted the Olson Building to the Anacortes Housing Authority (AHA). Although the transfer is encouraging, the future is anything but certain. The AHA faces huge rehabilitation costs for the Olson Building, and the Port has not been public about its intention for the wood frame buildings still under their ownership.
Adding to the urgency, the ground floor of the entire block is filled with active local businesses concerned about their leases and spaces: Marine Supply & Hardware and Alley Cat Antiques occupy the wood frame buildings; the Bikespot bike shop is in the alleyway infill; and Marine Documentation Services, The Business record shop, and Classic Upholstery are in the Olson Building. The Marine Supply Block is critical to downtown Anacortes not only for its long history, but also because of the value it provides to the businesses and community of Anacortes today.
Special thanks to Elaine Walker at the Anacortes Museum for providing historical information about the Marine Supply Block.
Another view of the Marine Supply & Hardware building.
The A. Olson Building, built in 1891, located next door to Marine Supply & Hardware in downtown Anacortes.