The Lopez Island Historical Society & Museum

Lopez Island, San Juan County, Washington

William Graham home

William Graham was one of many Irish Lopezians who came to the island by way of Canada. Born in 1840 near Kilmore in County Armagh, Graham moved with his parents to Ontario in 1841. As a young man, he moved to Ohio, and then to Estherville, Iowa. He came to Lopez in 1877 because relatives who had settled here (the Humphrey family, of Humphrey Head) wrote him about the availability of fish and game. On arrival, Graham bought the homestead originally patented by George Richardson.

William Graham's home at Richardson

Graham was a canny businessman. He recognized the potential of Richardson as the southernmost deepwater port in the islands, and set out to make it a trading center. He secured a post office franchise in 1887 and built a dock in 1889 to serve larger steamers. He added a warehouse, then helped Robert Kindleyside build a store.

In 1897 Graham built a public hall (still standing to the south) which hosted everything from the local school to political events, dances, and church services. His home was built in 1898.

At the turn of the century, Richardson sported a hotel, bakery, barber shop, creamery, slaughterhouse, and pool hall. Graham and his step-son, N. P. Hodgson, also opened a fish packing plant about that time. Graham moved to Bellingham in 1904, but traveled back and forth to Lopez until his death in 1928. In 1913, he and Hodgson built the Hodgson-Graham cannery.

After Graham's departure to Bellingham, the home was owned by N. P. Hodgson, a former skipper of square-riggers on the Orient run who furnished part of it with Asian art and furniture. His son Norman William, a county commissioner like his father and grandfather, inherited it. Norman William and his wife, Anna, in the interest of ease of maintenance and conserving heat, lowered the ceilings, blocked off an internal stairway, removed bay windows and porches on the north and south sides, and replaced the flat “widow's walk” with a peaked roof.

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