The Browne family started its business in 1947 when Jim and Inez Browne moved to the island and purchased the business.
While the Browne family has owned Browne Lumber since 1947, the business has been in existence since 1920, originally started by Captain Herbert H. Davis of Lopez Island. Davis married Mary Crook of English Camp in 1897 and ran ships for Roche Harbor Lime Company. Tired of life at sea, he opened a lumber store in Friday Harbor, to the north of where Downrigger’s restaurant is now, and named his business H. H. Davis Lumber.
The business changed hands several times. Both V.W. Talbott and Frank Mullis owned it in the 20’s and 40’s, but they retained the name “Davis Lumber”. In 1945 two brothers, Bob and Joe Brown bought the business. They only owned it for a year, but they made one important change: they changed the name to Brown Lumber.
In January of 1947 a newly married young couple from Seattle, Jim and Inez Browne, purchased the business and changed the name to Browne’s Building Supply. The two ran the business side by side, with Jim driving truck to the mainland, and Inez running the store and doing the books. They started a family and continued to work tirelessly, and soon, their business thrived. Inez was a pioneer career woman and they both were very involved in the community. Jim served as mayor for 3 terms.
In 1965, they moved their business up Spring Street into the old Dairymen’s Association building. Now, with both brothers Rob and Terry running the business and always trying to keep up with the demands of a growing industry, they did a major remodel in 1984. Jim retired in 1990s, but still kept a hand in the business. Inez continued to work every day, and attributed her long and healthy life to her career. She sadly passed away in 1998 at the age of 86.
Rob and Terry continued to run the business. Having once again outgrown their building in 2000, they made a major move and purchased the property on Mullis Street from Friday Harbor Building Supply, and built a new 16,000 sq. ft. store, renaming the business Browne’s Home Center. They now have over 50 employees.
‘In Loving Memory’
11-1948 to 02-2017
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