Durbin Drive & Edmonds’ First Department Store

Adapted from Research Corner, by Kathe Hall

Published in the Museum’s Quarterly Member Newsletter the Museum Light February 2003

George Quincy Durbin, ca. 1933

George Quincy Durbin, ca. 1933

In the beginning of 1925, George Quincy Durbin and his wife, Althea moved to Edmonds. Shortly after, their daughter Shirley, her husband Robert and son Paul Weller followed, along with Shirley’s brother Lincoln. Arriving from Bartley, Nebraska, George, who’s occupation on the 1920 census was general merchandising, purchased the entire stock of the Fourtner Dry Goods Company from Fred Fourtner. During this time, the new Fourtner Building (now Starbucks), a two-story brick veneer building, was being constructed at the southeast corner of 5th & Main Street. When is was completed, George moved his goods into the corner room.

Edmonds First Department Store

Durbin Mercantile in the Fourtner Building, ca. 1930

Durbin Mercantile in the Fourtner Building, ca. 1930

Durbin’s Mercantile, Edmonds first department store, opened for business April 1925. The store consisted of two floors with four departments. The first floor contained the ladies and children’s departments, and the men’s department was located in the basement. On one level was the shoe department. In September 1929, an opening was created on the first floor level to connect to an adjacent area in the main store lobby. The men’s department was then moved to this newly enlarged space, and a bedding and linen department was added the unoccupied space in the basement. George ran this mercantile business until June 1946, when he sold his men’s department to his grandson, Paul Weller; he’d previously turned over the management of the dry goods and women’s department to his daughter, Shirley Weller.

A Family Tradition

Durbin's Apparel at 107 5th Ave N, n.d.

Durbin’s Apparel at 107 5th Ave N, n.d.

January 20, 1949, prominent builder Fred Fourtner began construction on a new building at 107 5th Ave North (now Rusty Pelican Restaurant). Continuing the family involvement in the retail community, this would become the new home of Durbin Apparel run by Shirley Weller. Paul Weller, Shirley’s son, opened Weller’s Men’s Shop at 519 Main Street (now Fabric of Life) from 1954 until 1969 when he sold the business and retired.

Durbin Drive

Red balloon indicates the alley known as Durbin Drive; named after George Durbin

Red balloon indicates the alley known as Durbin Drive; named after George Durbin

Along with running a mercantile business, George had time to give back to his community. He was head of a committee in 1928 which planned for the planting of Hawthorne trees along the streets in Edmonds; the following Spring 72 of them were planted. In April 1930 the Federated Clubs of the South End was organized with George as it’s first Vice President; February 1931 the “Good Cheer” club, a local welfare organization, formed with George as its first President. In December 1932, he was elected 25th Mayor of Edmonds, re-elected in 1934 and ended his mayoral duties in 1937. In March 1949, the street west of the Edmonds Grade School (now Frances Anderson Center) between Main Street and Dayton Street was named Durbin Drive in honor of George Q. Durbin.

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