Island County judge spruces up courtroom with area, historical art

Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock looks at one of many historical photos recently hung to decorate the walls of his courtroom. The were presented in a public ceremony on Monday.

An appreciation for Whidbey Island’s history — and his own — led Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock to cover the bare walls of his courtroom with a dozen historic black-and-white photos.

“We have such a rich history here, and I wanted images from different parts of the county,” Hancock said during a dedication ceremony Monday.

The group of about 20 included several attorneys and one Island County commissioner.

“We needed to do something with the bare walls, and this gives a little life to the courtroom,” Hancock said.

The generously sized images, all matted, captioned and framed, depict a variety of subjects. One shows Hancock’s grandparents, Ruby and Justus Hancock, along with an uncle, a great-uncle and Johnny Gong, a Chinese laborer, threshing a field at the 90-acre farm that his family bought in 1886 and still owns.

Other images show the first courthouse owned by Island County, a former general store in Coveland, which is still standing; a ferry that linked Oak Harbor and Utsalady, on Camano Island; the Benson Hotel, in San de Fuca; a Native American woman cleaning salmon near a dugout canoe; a team of draft horses building a road near Fort Casey; and a boat being built at the H.B. Lovejoy Boatworks on Front Street in Coupeville.

The latter image is another that Hancock said has personal resonance, as Howard Barlett Lovejoy was his wife’s great grandfather and built the Samuel E. Hancock house where he and his wife now live.

The house overlooks Ebey’s Prairie.

Rick Castellano, executive director of the Island County Historical Society Museum, made initial selections from the museum’s collection of nearly 20,000 images, and Hancock made the final choices, Hancock said.

The project cost $3,000-$4,000 and came out of the court’s budget, he said.

Judge Vicki Churchill’s courtroom, next door to his own, still sports bare walls, but “she is working on that,” Hancock said.

Still on Hancock’s docket, or at least his wish list: Native American wooden carvings by the late Whidbey Island artist Roger Purdue showing a salmon, an eagle and a whale, all gracing the wall behind the jury box.