Friday Harbor’s Brickworks Turns 100 in 2021

Posted May 13, 2021 at 5:30 am by

From the San Juan Islands Agri­cul­tur­al Guild

It seems like only a few years ago that the San Juan Islands Agri­cul­tur­al Guild threw a grand open­ing par­ty for our com­mu­ni­ty’s beloved Brick­works build­ing and plaza, but in fact, the orig­i­nal his­toric build­ing is cel­e­brat­ing its 100th birth­day this year.

May is “His­to­ry Lives Here” month and the per­fect time to cel­e­brate this Fri­day Har­bor build­ing’s big birth­day with a trip back in time.

The orig­i­nal “Brick­works” build­ing was com­plet­ed in 1921 by con­crete con­trac­tor T.T. Pax­son, as the new home of Fri­day Har­bor Brick and Tile Co.(FHB&T Co.) and was con­struct­ed fea­tur­ing its own prod­ucts: con­crete blocks, bricks, and tiles.

Fol­low­ing a dis­as­trous down­town fire in 1925, a new Fri­day Har­bor ordi­nance was signed, requir­ing new build­ings to be built of fire­proof mate­ri­als: brick, stone, or concrete.

FHB&T Co. would go on to sup­ply con­crete build­ing blocks and bricks for many town busi­ness­es and build­ings in the years to come, includ­ing the town hall.

Con­crete block con­struc­tion was a pop­u­lar “cheap, quick, and easy” build­ing mate­r­i­al typ­i­cal of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. Two peo­ple could pro­duce 80–100 blocks per day. Machines with adjustable cores and molds allowed for the man­u­fac­tur­ing of a wide vari­ety of sizes and styles.

The build­ing lat­er became known as the Boede Build­ing, after Pax­son’s son-in-law and part­ner, John H. Boede, Jr., took over the con­crete block busi­ness. When block, brick and tile pro­duc­tion end­ed, sev­er­al busi­ness­es – as well as an upstairs res­i­dence – were housed in the build­ing, includ­ing Fri­day Har­bor Electric.

In 2008, the San Juan Islands Agri­cul­tur­al Guild non­prof­it was formed and iden­ti­fied the devel­op­ment of a per­ma­nent farm­ers mar­ket facil­i­ty on San Juan Island as its first project.

After con­sid­er­ing sev­er­al sites, the his­toric brick and tile build­ing at 150 Nichols Street was cho­sen. With help from a state grant and gen­er­ous com­mu­ni­ty dona­tions, the Ag Guild pur­chased the site from then own­ers, Joanie and Bill Erickson.

The Ag Guild named the prop­er­ty “Brick­works,” to hon­or its his­to­ry. A com­mu­ni­ty grass­roots fundrais­ing cam­paign, as well as a grant from the Town of Fri­day Har­bor, and thou­sands of vol­un­teer hours led to the even­tu­al ren­o­va­tion of the build­ing and con­struc­tion of the plaza.

Today Brick­works is not only a year-round home for the San Juan Island Farm­ers Mar­ket, but serves as a gath­er­ing place for com­mu­ni­ty gath­er­ings, meet­ings, and spe­cial events like wed­dings and parties.

Each year, the Ag Guild pro­vides thou­sands of dol­lars of reduced or free Brick­works venue rentals for local non-prof­it com­mu­ni­ty events. The Brick­works com­mer­cial kitchen is also avail­able for rent and acts as a busi­ness incu­ba­tor for start-up chefs, food ven­dors, and cater­ers. All rental rev­enue returns to the com­mu­ni­ty by sup­port­ing Ag Guild pro­grams – fos­ter­ing a vibrant, resilient, sus­tain­able local food sys­tem in San Juan County.

If you’d like to be part of the next 100 years of Brick­works his­to­ry, con­sid­er pur­chas­ing an engraved brick to join the hun­dreds of oth­ers already installed on the plaza.

Hap­py 100th Brick­works! To learn more about the Ag Guild, vis­it www.sjiaguild.com, and www.fhbrickworks.com.

Spe­cial thanks to Sandy Strehlou at the Town of Fri­day Har­bor and Boyd Pratt for their his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge and pho­tos for this article.

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One comment...

  1. Love the His­to­ry pics and cometary

    Comment by Rex on May 14, 2021 at 6:37 am

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