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Joy House History

Jerry Hemphills Grandparents on the Front Lawn of the Joy House (Now Upper Tucker House) circa July 1928
Jerry Hemphills Grandparents on the Front Lawn of the Joy House (Now Upper Tucker House) circa July 1928

We were thrilled to hear from Mr. M. J. (Jerry) Hemphill, who sent us photos and his personal history of what’s known in Friday Harbor as the Joy House. To us, it’s the Upper Tucker House, our main check-in and guest pubic area.

Jerry’s father (Melville B.) inherited the Joy House from grandfather William in the dividing of the family estate in the early 1940’s. Jerry visited the house often as a child in the late 20’s and early 30’s when his grandfather still lived there, and later when occupied by his aunt Edna and uncle John Nash. It was his understanding that the house was built by one of the Jensen’s, a local shipbuilding family.

Rock in the way of completing the basement was his most significant memory of the house itself. At the time Jerry’s relatives owned the home, among the families living nearby are those we recognize from Friday Harbor street names today including Tucker and Geneste.

Loading their belonging into Blair King’s produce truck, Jerry’s family moved to Port Orchard Jan 1, 1941 when he was 13 years old. He didn’t really want to leave his young friends and neighbor Harry Wilkes, behind, but he was looking forward to the adventure of it all, little realizing how it would shape his life. The relative isolation of the Island in that era was its own security blanket, something that keeps memories of the island intact today.

After working 47 years for the Federal Government, Jerry retired with his wife to Buckley WA, to be near his children. We’re waiting for him to come back to the island and revisit the house of his youth.

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