The Bair Drug & Hardware Store was built in 1895 by pharmacist W. L. Bair. Built on Lafayette Street near the terminus of the electric streetcar.
Bair Drug & Hardware Store quickly became the social center as residents settled themselves around the pot-bellied stove, waited for the streetcar, and came in to fill prescriptions. The soda fountain was installed around 1906, about the same time the addition was put on the back of the building to accommodate the post office and house the hardware stock transferred from the old E. R. Roger’s store.
The store and the adjacent half lot were donated to the Association in 1973 by Eudocia Bair Leech and Godfrey “Cub” Bair in memory of their parents Hattie and W. L. Bair. As the only commercial building predating 1900, it had great historical significance. Tremendous effort over a two-year period to restore and shore up the existing building culminated in a Grand Opening during the nation’s Bicentennial. The decision was made to lease out the store for a restaurant and still maintain a “Living Museum.” Through the years, the store has had additions to make it more usable and many restorations.
The Bair Drug & Hardware Store was built in 1895 at its present location on Lafayette Street in Steilacoom. The hardware, pharmacy, soda fountain, and post office made the Bair Store a popular place for Steilacoom Citizens to congregate. The old pot-bellied stove around which the men of the town congregated on cold wintry days inside the store is represented today by a similar unit.
W.L. Bair’s daughter, Eudocia, and her husband, William Leach, ran the Post Office for many years. A visitor today may view certificates of appointments signed by several presidents. All around the store are items original to the business or of the period. There is a fine collection of molding planes, scales, mortar and pestles, tobacco tins, medicines, and many other items that might be found in such a business during the late 1890s.
In 1973, heirs of W.L. Bair (Eudocia Bair Leach and Godfrey “Cub” Bair) donated the building to the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association. SHMA renovated the building in 1976 and 1997. As in most old buildings, the Bair requires ongoing maintenance.
Since 1977 the Bair Drug & Hardware Store has included within the building a full-service restaurant, operated most recently by Rosa Kreger and then Ed and Martha Lintott. The restaurant closed in the Fall of 2008, and a new round of repairs, renovations, and upgrades began. Work was completed in March 2010, and SHMA welcomed a new tenant, Sarah Cannon, who opened her highly anticipated new restaurant, The Bair Bistro. Check the Bair Bistro storefront for current operating hours.