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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
600 of 700 total Free Home Page Stories & Photos
(Also see our Subscribers Magazine Sample)
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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The original Oliver-Hammer
Clothes Shop (Updated 2011)

(Oliver-Hammer interior)
The original interior of Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop, circa 1920s, with George Hammer at the left and his assistant, Ford Cook, on the right. In 1937, Cook became a partner with Eddie Adams in the Old Timers Tavern on State Street. In 1950 he left Adams and bought the Wixson Club, now the Schooner, on Metcalf.

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We recently visited our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, which is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds & duvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.

      The venerable Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop began in a partitioned half of the brick building at 805 Metcalf street, which was erected by tailor Joe Oliver in 1921. Back in the early days of P.A. Woolley's company town, a woodframe building at the southeast corner of Metcalf and Woodworth streets housed the original Woolley post office and a stationery store. We only found its location by accident when we found the 1899 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of old Woolley at the University of Washington archives.
      In about 1901, Woolley built his mansion on the eastern side of the alley between Metcalf and Murdock streets. The house itself stood on the lots that are now covered by the parking lot of Countryside Chevrolet and Sedro-Woolley Auto Parts. The post office building was razed when the new post office opened in 1910 at 826 Metcalf (ironically a mailbox outlet in 2006) and the Woolleys planted a fruit orchard in its place. The north half of the east side of the block remained an orchard until Oliver erected his building and then the Odd Fellows Lodge built their two-story brick building on the corner a year later.
      After further research with researcher Roger Peterson, we discovered that Oliver had been a successful tailor for at least two decades. Oliver built his reputation when loggers bought wool and silk right off the bolt so that Oliver could create a suit for them from scratch when they planned to marry, attend christenings or for "Sunday Go To Meeting" purposes. He was joined in the new shop in 1921 with George Hammer, son of Emerson Hammer — the state senator and pioneer of the Washington territory days of 1889, a very big name in town. George had learned the retail trade from his father, Emerson Hammer, at the Union Mercantile department store, which began in 1902 in a woodframe building a block north at the southwest corner of Metcalf and Ferry streets.

(George Hammer)
George Hammer, 1950s

      Oliver sold his share in the business to Hammer and moved to California in the late 1930s and bought a liquor store down there. We have found a newspaper article from 1943 that reported George Hammer grew tomato plants in a small garden behind the store. That building is not as deep on its lot as the other neighbors, so Hammer had plenty of room out back with eastern exposure, where cars are parked today. At about the time Oliver sold out his share, Hammer also lost his long-time clerk, Ford Cook, a former local, high-school sports hero, who became a partner with Eddie Adams in the tavern, which evolved into today's Old-Timers. That is also about the time that two young men of future retail fame, the late Pinky Robinson, and Greer Drummond, now 94 and still a partner in Oliver-Hammer, became associated with the company.
      In 1958, Hammer sold the store to the new partnership of Robinson and Drummond.. The new partners moved the business to a larger site in the historic Livermore Ford Garage building, further south on Metcalf, which had been the home of Safeway Market in the interim after Livermore closed in the mid-1920s. Dyrk Meyers and Dave Drummond, son of Greer, are the managing partners in the Oliver-Hammer business today. For the next 20 years after the move, the 805 Metcalf store housed various shops that featured ladies clothing and other retailers. At the turn of the 20th century, Shirley Grant moved her health foods store to the 805B address and Kim Benish bought the business early in 2004 for her Heirloom Garden health foods business, which closed in the fall of 2005. A gift shop and a religious group share the building today.

(Metcalf street in 1910)
      In this view of Metcalf Street, you are looking north-northeast in either 1910 or 1911 during the 4th of July parade, before the famous July 1911 downtown fire. You can see P.A. Woolley's orchard at the upper right. In the upper right background, you can see a large two-story building at the corner of Metcalf and Ferry streets. That was the Donnelly building, which burned quickly in the fire. To the south, you can see another woodframe building with a sign advertising the occupant, the Red Front mercantile. Both of those buildings burned in the 1911 fire and were replaced by the present brick buildings. Across Woodworth Street to the south is the stationery store/post office. South of the orchard is the original home of Skagit Realty, which we believe is now a private residence on Reed Street, and you can see a corner of the Livermore/Tresner harness business.

Links, background reading and sources
      We have now compiled the histories of more than a dozen downtown buildings and we eventually plan to profile them all. Some day, when we meet a young whippersnapper with more technical knowledge that we have, we would like to present a virtual map of Sedro and Woolley, showing how the business blocks have changed decade by decade. We hope that a reader will have family scrapbooks or photos of the various early Metcalf Street businesses, both interior and exterior. We are seeking documents and photos of all the pioneer Sedro-Woolley businesses.

Story posted on July 1, 2004, last updated April 14, 2011
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(bullet) Our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds & duvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 90 years continually in business.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20, day, week or month, perfect for hunting or fishing
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley — doubling in size for RVs and camping in 2011.
(bullet) Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery-Cafe at 823 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley.
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