Why is the Haller House worth saving?

An unrecognized treasure in the heart of Coupeville and Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is the home of Col. Granville O. Haller on the corner of Front and Main Streets. Built on the original land claim of Capt. Thomas Coupe, Haller’s two-story Georgian house was joined by its builder to an earlier dwelling, the 1859 Raphael Brunn House. This smaller house was likely moved from elsewhere on the site to form an ell to the Haller’s newer primary house.

The construction history of the house provides a chronicle of the evolution of building technology in the Pacific Northwest, providing examples of three distinct eras of construction. The one-story Brunn House was built with plank construction with a gable roof and central chimney; the Haller House, balloon framed, also boasted a gabled roof and a corbelled central chimney. Stud walls were added to the 1859 Brunn House for extra support in the mid-twentieth century. The original open floor plans with central fireplaces are retained.

By its unusual history of ownership, the Haller House has never been fully modernized. The absence of full amenities – wiring, plumbing or central heat – has allowed it to remain little changed from its era of construction. Original windows, floors, and faux-wood & faux-marble interior finishes offer a rare look at the pursuit of high style by a well-to-do pioneer family.

The surrounding landscaping is a perfect complement to the house. The gardens are composed of a blend of native and non-native plants, both edible and ornamental, with several layers of plantings from bulbs and herbaceous perennials to shrubs and trees. All of the species found are typical of yards of the Pacific Northwest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The landscape is as unique and unaltered as the house itself.

All told, the Haller House has rich educational potential as a time capsule of early Euro-American settlement. Its preservation and restoration promise to make it an important centerpiece in Coupeville’s impressive historic landscape.

Haller House location

History of the Haller-Brunn House

#1 N. E. Front Street, Coupeville WA

1859 - Initial house built for Raphael Brunn on 2 1/8 acres that Thomas Coupe sold to Fowler & Co.

1860 - Fowler & Co sold interest to Isaac Jones. Land included the house, store, warehouse, wharf & other buildings.

1861 - Foreclosure on the property.

1866 - Colonel Granville Owen Haller purchased the property and added the front portion of the house to the Brunn house.

Haller House
Presumably Col. Haller on the front steps of the Haller House. Note the Brunn house attached at the rear.
From the paperback biography "Granville Haller: Leader" by Martin N. Chamberlain.

1879 - The Hallers left Coupeville to live in Seattle.

1879 - Daniel Pearson sold inventory of store to O.A. Dresser. Before this Henry Landis had run the store.

1887 - County Commissioners started the process of "removing obstruction" to widen Main Street. "obstruction" was Col. Granville Haller's store.

1889 - County road crew removed "obstruction" by slicing off the west side of the store. Mr. Gaston went bankrupt. According to "Recollections of Early Days on Whidby Island" by Flora Augusta Pearson Engle (2003), A.H. Ludington bought the structure and tore down the half of the store that was left standing when the road was widened.

Haller House
The Haller House on the right has a sign saying Campbell Hotel. The building on the left is the Glenwood Hotel under construction.
Note the pile of rubble at the corner of Main and Front below the Haller House - this may be the remains of the Pearson shop (Col. Haller's store)
The sternwheeler is the 'Fairhaven', a regular visitor to the Robertson Wharf.
The picture was probably taken in 1890.

1892 - Part of property sold to Ludington

1903 - Remaining property sold to Ira Todd who sold to G.F. Hesselgrave

Haller House
The Haller House on the left as seen from the roof of the Hotel. Note the damaged fence by the Haller house and a building on the extreme left that may have been the new store

1913 - Hesselgrave sold back to Todd who formed partnership with C.F. Coates for Whidbey Mercantile.

Map of house
The Haller house as seen on a 1914 Fire Map.
Note the bay window on the west side that is no longer there. The store is labeled as 'Hardware & paints'.
From the Sanborn Map of Coupeville, 1914.

1918 - R.M. Hastie bought the land where the store had been.

1922 - Hastie sold fixtures to George Wiley Hesselgrave

1926 - Hesselgrave bought store bldg for delinquent taxes & Hastie's bank contract. He converted it into a cinema called The Circuit. He set up movie equipment and ran the show house. He went to Seattle once a week to pick up a new film in his 7-seater Studebaker. He carried passengers and freight as well. Showings were typically every Wednesday and Thursday. The projector had too long a focal length for the building so a box was added to northern wall to house the projector. Reportedly, the electrical system was so weak that lights all over town dimmed while the movie was showing.

The Circuit
The Circuit

1930 map
The Haller house as seen on a 1930 Fire Map.
Note the Hardware & Paints store has become a Movie House. Also the 'D.G.' building between the Haller House and the Bank is now missing.
From the Sanborn Map of Coupeville, 1930.

1939 - Hesselgrave leased out movie house.

1954 - The Hesselgrave heirs razed show house.

Haller House
Haller House from the north east
from the Historic American Buildings Survey collection

Haller House
Haller House from the south east. Note the Mansard roof on the Glenwood Hotel (added in 1900)
from the Historic American Buildings Survey collection

Haller House
Haller House from the south. A part of the cinema can be seen to the left.
from the Historic American Buildings Survey collection

Haller House
Haller House as seen from the Robertson Wharf. A part of the cinema can be seen too.
Note that the house on the left and the Furniture Warehouse have since benn demolished and that the Bank is now a private residence.
The picture dates between 1914 and 1930 according to the Sanborn maps.
Courtesy: Island County Historical Museum, Coupeville

Haller House
Haller House as seen from the air in 2006

Plan of house
The Haller house Plan
From drawings by Claudia Kiyama, 2013

Historic Whidbey published a Historic Structures Report on the Haller House on June 10, 2014. It contains a history of the building and an analysis of its current condition with illustrations. For a copy (PDF format - 6 Mbytes) click on the image below:

Haller House Report