The Chamber of Commerce Building at 902 E. First St. in Port Angeles is shown in 1954. (Floyd Gossard)

The Chamber of Commerce Building at 902 E. First St. in Port Angeles is shown in 1954. (Floyd Gossard)

BACK WHEN: Chamber building’s history is remembered

GARY WAGNER WAS one of two who recognized the Chamber of Commerce Building at 902 E. First St.

The photo was taken in 1954 by Floyd Gossard.

According to Wagner, this building has quite a history.

Al Brannin wrote that the Longhouse was first located at First and Race streets in Port Angeles and the service station — Jack and Lew’s sign — can be seen in the photo.

Brannin thought it was later moved several blocks to the east.

In an article published in the Port Angeles Evening News on Aug. 15, 1954, it was originally called one of “Tinks Treasurers,” referring to Evelyn Tinkham.

She was largely responsible for patterning the new community information center (The Longhouse) after the Native American building.

The Longhouse began as a community project, but eventually enlisted area-wide cooperation.

Tinkham joined the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce and Community Action Assembly representatives in promoting the tourist information to guide visitors to Olympic Peninsula spots known only to the residents.

Mrs. Arthur Hammerstein of New York City, known as film star Dorothy Dalton, offered the use of her property on the highway for an indefinite time.

It was dedicated July 25, 1954.

Official displays included Native American masks, totems and other relics.

La Push and Neah Bay tribesmen painted the posts on the Longhouse while Helen Peterson of Neah Bay demonstrated basket weaving at various times

The Chamber of Commerce’s main office remained on Laurel Street and Railroad Avenue.

It wasn’t until 1958 that the chamber purchased a piece of property at 1217 E. First St. and a new structure was built.

I don’t know if the Longhouse was moved to 1217 E. First St. before the new structure was complete or if the Longhouse was moved at that point to an area east of Port Angeles at the top of Morse Creek Hill.

Chamber volunteers used it as a base to distribute flyers and information about Port Angeles.

In 1982, a visitors center opened downtown across from the ferry terminal.

It was a good place to catch ferry traffic who had questions.

Also in 1982, an information center opened on Morse Creek that was manned by volunteers under the direction of the Key Club.

Because the little Longhouse building had been sold in the 1970s, this Morse Creek center was another building.

According to Carol Johnson, who was once the chamber executive director, it was a little booth with a pull-up cover — much like fireworks stands.

Around 1984, the chamber purchased Angeles Gravel’s building at 121 S. Railroad Ave. and it became the new Chamber of Commerce official site.

The desire was to have a presence downtown for best access to tourists.

Chet Wasankari, who operated a house-moving company, acquired the Longhouse and sold it to Colleen Dougherty sometime in 1970.

She used it for a saddle and tack shop on her property on West U.S. Highway 101.

When she moved farther west, she sold the building to John Wagner in about 1978.

He had the Bruchs move it to the Wagner store at Lairds Corner.

It sat about where the Blue Caboose currently is.

After two or three years, Jay Bruch moved the little building farther west to sit in front of the Consumption Junction Tavern.

Throughout the next few years, Wagner had several small businesses that operated out of the Longhouse, including Wagners own office and a small antique store.

Finally in 1985-86, Ron Gilbert started his barbershop business in the little red building.

Janelle Gilbert, Ron’s wife, said the first few months the shop was open, it had no customers.

It took a while for the word to get out.

Ron Gilbert had several customers who stayed with him for most of the 20 years he was in business.

Bob Glas and Pieko Larson were two of his best customers.

Bill Acorn also was a good customer.

Ron Gilbert was very good with the children, especially the ones who came for their first haircut.

He was never a customer of the tavern, even though he was within throwing distance.

There were lots of hunting and fishing stories during the years the barbershop was open.

When Gilbert retired in 2005-06, the Wagners attempted to sell the building and eventually Ernie Vail purchased it and had it moved to his property.

He built a porch on it and did a lot of work to it, including oiling the original old-growth boards it had been built with.

It is still in use, sturdy as when it was first built.

Much care went into the construction of this old building.

Vail remembers when it was sitting out by the entrance to Port Angeles as a visitors center.

He didn’t remember dates, however, so it will remain a part of history.

Throughout the years, the chamber had several presences in town in order to cover both the east and west sides of town.

More on Al Goerg

I received a letter regarding last month’s column about Al Goerg.

Sandy Larson said, “Goerg, his wife Ann, children Dick, Jim and Nancy lived at 3009 Laurel St.

“We were backyards adjoining neighbors (Viewcrest Ave.)

“I recall Al’s Makah Sporting Goods being on Laurel St. (east side) next to First National Bank and Tom Burke Drug.

“There was a big brown bear rug with open fangs in the window area and a huge moose head inside.

“My Dad was friends with Al.

“I remember going in there with Dad many times. I was 8-10 yrs old or so when Al and a bush pilot last name of Pennington (from Forks/Beaver) area went down in the Aleutians.

“Al hunted Kodiak bear with handguns. He even wrote an interesting book on the subject.

“Since I was born in 1953, your timeline on Al’s plane being lost would make it the early to mid 1960s.

“I do believe some remains, whether plane debris or otherwise was found quite a few years ago.

“Al’s son Jim was an editor for a Hunting Magazine in Western Washington for many years.”

Bannin also remembered Goerg and his shop on Laurel Street.


Alice Alexander is a Clallam County historian, author, and a descendent of an Elwha Valley pioneer family. She is a recipient of a 2014 Clallam County Heritage Awards. She can be reached at [email protected].

Alice’s Clallam history column appears the first Sunday of every month.

February photo of the month
                                Do you recognize this east end motel? If you do or have comments about it, write to Alice Alexander at 204 W. Fourth St. Apt. 14, Port Angeles or email her at and she will include your comments in her column March 3. Comments need to be in by Feb. 15 to be included.

February photo of the month Do you recognize this east end motel? If you do or have comments about it, write to Alice Alexander at 204 W. Fourth St. Apt. 14, Port Angeles or email her at [email protected] and she will include your comments in her column March 3. Comments need to be in by Feb. 15 to be included.

More in Life

Pest management topic of talk

Veteran Master Gardener Muriel Nesbitt will explain how to… Continue reading

OTA finds fun and love in musical show ‘First Date’

Whether happily married, looking for love or “it’s complicated,” you’re… Continue reading

HELP LINE: Medicare Savings Programs are designed to help

MONEY. MONEY. MONEY. I’m hoping to get your attention. How did I… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Break out the baskets for Easter

SEVERAL OF MY friends brought an extension ladder over last week to… Continue reading

PHOTO: Hundreds gather for Easter sunrise service in Port Angeles

Mike Spencer, left, and Chuck Brown sing Easter songs along with the… Continue reading

PHOTO: Thorough search in Port Townsend Easter egg hunt

Mika Diaz, 4, of Marrowstone Island looks for a hidden egg with… Continue reading

NEWS BRIEFS: Church plans Vigil, Stations and Triduum … and other items

St. Anne Catholic Church invites the public to its celebration… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: The life of Jesus: Uncomplicated but meaningful

YOU MAY WONDER, as I have, why Good Friday is considered “good”… Continue reading

Most Read