The History of Evelyn’s Tavern, a Skagit County Gem

Just a few miles northeast of Mount Vernon, in the tiny town of Clear Lake, you will find a place that has served suds and smiles since before any of us were born. Evelyn’s Tavern – a wood-fronted roadhouse along State Route 9 – is among the oldest bars in Skagit County. Built in the 1890s, the building is now home to what’s arguably the Skagit Valley’s biggest beer garden, and is a biker-friendly, must-stop destination for the annual Oyster Run motorcycle ride.

Throughout the years, both the building and the bar have racked up quite a history.

Evelyn’s Tavern had many different names over the years. Among its earliest: The Clear Lake Club Room, seen here around 1900. In this photo, Frank Bergeron (left) and Corrin Wellman make a toast. Photo courtesy: Clear Lake Historical Association

Skagit County History: Evelyn’s Tavern Bar

The structure that houses Evelyn’s Tavern got its start around 1892, according to Deanna Ammons, historian for the Clear Lake Historical Association. Perhaps unsurprisingly, its first use was as a saloon.

Owned by Bayview Shingle Mill proprietor George Butters, the Clear Lake Club Room was one of about a half dozen bars in Clear Lake at the time. The plethora of watering holes in such a small place was partially explained by the fact that hotels and boarding houses of the era often housed their own saloons.

The reason Clear Lake had so many lodging options was due to the Seattle, Lake Shore & Railway, which reached the town in December 1890. Clear Lake was among the railway’s many stops along its path between Seattle and the Canadian border.

In early 1906, Butters died without a will, and his wife Anna ended up with ownership of the building. She leased it out for several years, and it continued to exist as a saloon under several different names, including the Evergreen Pool Room.

Clear Lake’s main business district around 1910. The building that is now Evelyn’s Tavern can be seen at far right, operating as the Evergreen Pool Room. Photo courtesy: Clear Lake Historical Association

Becoming Evelyn’s Tavern

Around 1917, Anna and her second husband, Alexander McDonald, leased the building to Frank Adams and his brother-in-law, who set up the Leeper & Adams Drug Store. As a bachelor, Adams added living quarters to the back of the building.

In 1925 the drug store moved next door, into the I.O.O.F. Lodge Hall – current home of the Clear Lake Historical Association and one of just a handful of Clear Lake structures remaining from the 1890s. The building’s new owner, Olive Chambers, then began operating a restaurant and bakery there for several years. The building was partitioned at the time, providing two spaces for business to take place.

When Chambers retired, Leeper and Adams moved their drug store back to the building, where it operated until Adams died. The property remained a drug store in 1951, when it was then purchased by Jim and Esther Becraft.

Two years later, Eldred and Evelyn Loop bought the building and began operating it as a tavern. They removed the partition to create just one main space, and also removed any remaining traces of its drug store years, Ammons says.

The Loops eventually divorced, however, and it was Evelyn who retained sole ownership of the bar. She began calling it Evelyn’s, and the name has stuck.  

“She owned and operated it for many years,” Ammons says.

Evelyn’s Tavern, as it exists today alongside State Route 9 in Clear Lake. Photo courtesy: Skagit County Assessor’s Office

Evelyn’s Tavern: Recent Times

Old age eventually led Loop to step away from the bar, and a man named Guy MacLellen operated it for several years. This was followed by a period of numerous ownership changes, with occasional closures between each change.

At times, Ammons says the tavern gained a reputation for being a rough place. “There were a lot of things that went on down there that shouldn’t have,” she says.  

Since around 2015, Skagit County resident Liz Wallace has owned and operated Evelyn’s, which has enjoyed a modern resurgence that still pays tribute to its past. “She does a good job,” Ammons says of Wallace’s ownership. “She has a good cook, and they have a lot of business.”

Evelyn’s menu features a slew of tasty appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizzas and pastas. The bar’s special is the choice of a 6-ounce or 10-ounce top sirloin steak cooked to order, served with potato wedges and a garden salad.

During the summer, Evelyn’s outdoor beer garden features ample seating space, with picnic tables and lounge chairs. There are also barbecues and horseshoe pits, and the bar also occasionally features live music, trivia and other events.

With a lot of interesting history already behind it, Evelyn’s Tavern seems likely to keep adding chapters to Clear Lake’s future for years to come.

Evelyn’s Tavern is located at 12667 WA-9 in Clear Lake. See the Evelyn’s Tavern website for hours of operation or call 360.399.1321.


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