“Baraka is the Moslem sense of blessedness that attaches itself to buildings or objects after years of loving use.”
It is not being overly-dramatic to say that, with the closing of the Coldwell Banker Orcas Island (CBOI) office, an era has ended: the era when the real estate business flourished on Orcas Island, when prominent Realtors and Brokers such as Wally Gudgell, Stu Stevens and Rusty Post started their careers with Pat Pomeroy and Coldwell Banker Orcas Island.
Before that, within what had originally been the Island’s Church Manse, the Land Office helped islanders and newcomers find their home, that profound stabilizer, here on Orcas Island.
And before that, the two-story, yellow Victorian building was where countless Baby Boomers learned their Sunday School lessons.
Now the CBOI era of Tuesday morning associates’ conferences, Saturday morning trips to the Farmers Market to buy office flowers, and of the fund-raising phone bank evenings, is over.
Or is it?
The historic building has functioned well as a user- and visitor-friendly office, with a welcoming reception area, built-in filing cabinets and large rooms that comfortably housed six desks in one room. Upstairs, the windows of the two large rooms look over Eastsound with birds-eye views of street life and of the waters of East Sound.
In the ‘what if?’ realm, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the island’s
faith-based organizations and/or non-profits could occupy the building as a collaborative business? The Chamber of Commerce would heighten its status by occupying the noteworthy building. Or the Orcas Island Community Foundation could oversee its own and its members’ functions from the complex of offices within the former residence. A historical building preservation office would fit in perfectly under the old CBOI roof, and could operate to preserve and maintain Orcas’ other historic buildings.
Whether its baraka or karma from years of serving the island community, or just being a house built and preserved with old-fashioned care, something about the building’s spaciousness and style sustained a history of common sense, public commerce and good will that characterize Eastsound’s history. Its continued existence would be an asset to Eastsound and to Orcas Island.
The building also anchors an important neighborhood in town. Next door to the south are the Main Street Bakery and gardens where yellow rose bushes burst into bloom and tourists and townspeople alike can meet as they “cycle through” the heart of town.
On CBOI’s north side, the Eastsound Square complex of shops creates a charming and neighborly atmosphere that draws in sidewalk strollers, all the way back to the two-story building, through paths and gardens.
If the CBOI building isn’t occupied and maintained, will a new structure be erected as close to the sidewalk as it can to maximize the use of space? Will the landscaping, wandering paths, rose gardens and other plantings be eliminated? Will Eastsound Square be remodeled to more “modern” and “efficient” uses?
Those who love the unique homey-ness, neighborliness and vitality of Eastsound and appreciate the time-weathered beauty of its oldest buildings should rally around the survival of the yellow Victorian house in the heart of town, and keep its unique elements of beauty, stability and friendliness alive, for all the community’s benefit.