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Bellingham

Port of call 18 miles south of the Canadian Border, industrial and educational center, and distribution point for northwestern Washington. The city borders the broad curve of Bellingham Bay, sweeps back over the level valleys of Whatcom, Squalicum, and Padden creeks, and climbs the slopes of Sehome Hill, which rises practically in the middle of the city. Industrial life was concentrated along the waterfront, where squarely massed warehouses, coal bunkers, and piers were punctuated with the black smokestacks of mills and factories, harsh against the green hills. From the bayside, streets radiated into the business and residential areas, which mingled casually as a result of the merging of four separate boom towns in the formation of Bellingham. Subsequent development has cleared much of the former industrial development along the waterfront as part of converting the lands to new uses.

To the west are the San Juan Islands; more distant are the white-tipped Olympics, remote and austere, and the dark bulk of Vancouver Island, visible only on clear days. Stretching eastward from the city for 40 miles are broad fertile valleys, once unbroken evergreen forest but now largely logged off and converted into dairy farms, truck gardens, pastures, berry fields, and poultry ranches. Higher areas between the lowlands are covered with second-growth timber, interspersed with charred or bleaching stumps and fallen logs. Gradually the foothills become more rugged as they ascend toward the serrated line of the Cascades, from which rise the snow-capped peaks of Mount Baker and the Three Sisters.

Images

Historic postcard showing a bird’s-eye view of Bellingham.

Source: Artifacts Consulting

Historic postcard view of the Baker Building and Mt. Baker Theater in downtown Bellingham.

Source: Artifacts Consulting, Inc.

Ca. 1905 image of the Bellingham City Hall (Whatcom Museum) and fire department headquarters.

Photo by Asahel Curtis. Source: Washington State Historical Society

Ca. 1900-1915 image of the George E. Pickett House in Bellingham.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Eldridge Avenue Historic District

The Eldrige Avenue Historic District is a residential area situated on a bluff overlooking Bellingham Bay. The district is character by a concentration of 1885-1910 houses, quiet suburban streets, and vistas canopied with mature hardwoods and firs. The early pioneer-promoters of North Bellingham chose to build their “career’s best” houses in the Eldridge District. The district has a bounty of Victorian architectural styles. Two notable houses are the Neo-Clasiscal George Bacon House (2001 Eldridge) and the Queen Anne Style Hellen Loggie House (2203 Utter).

Broadway Park Historic District

The Broadway Park Historic District is a residential area in the Cornwall Park neighborhood. The location was selected to maximize sales revenues by capitalizing on the proximity to a streetcar line and dispose of a “problem” landscape feature (the marsh) by gifting it to the city as a park. The district illustrates themes of Community Planning and Development as an early streetcar suburb, planned and developed as a speculative venture by the Bellingham Bay Improvement Company. Architecturally, the district has a cohesive appearance; in large part due to the fact that 98% of the district’s primary resources were constructed between 1906 and 1931.

Cissna Cottages Historic District

The Cissna Cottages Historic District is in one of the oldest areas in Bellingham including 10 houses within the district. Nine of the ten houses were built between 1888 and 1904. The district is significant for its retention of intact, tangible representation of Charles Cissna’s contribution to the housing history of Bellingham. The area represents the work of master craftsmen and possesses the high artistic qualities of a turn-of-the-century residential development in Bellingham. While it is surmised that the house design may have been derived from a pattern book, the collection stands out as a cohesive district representing the tenets of Queen Anne style, exhibiting all the expected ornate characteristics common during the last years of the 19th Century.

York District

The York Historic District represents a cross culture of individuals – business proprietors, industrial workers and independent trades people – whose skills and talents contributed to the development and growth of Bellingham. The district retains the spatial characteristics and architectural styles which correspond to the development boom that occurred between 1895 and 1905. Fueled by the arrival of the streetcar, much of the neighborhood was developed speculatively with its land controlled by a small group of Bellingham’s influential citizenry.

Downtown Bellingham Historic District

The Downtown Bellingham Historic District represents the city’s highest concentration of buildings directly associated with the evolution from multiple 19th century pioneer settlements to a 20th century urban center. The period of significance extends from 1890 (the construction year for the earliest extant contribution building), and ends in 1967 (the construction date for the district’s most recent contribution building. The district is significant for its association with commerce, recreation and entertainment and government development and buildings in Bellingham. The district is also architecturally significant for the contribution of numerous locally, regionally, and nationally renowned architects such as F. Stanley Piper, John Graham, Sr., Robert C. Reamer, Frank C. Burns, Alfred Lee, James Teague, Proctor & Farrell, William Cox, James Taylor Knox and Thornton F. Doan.

Sehome Hill Historic District

The Sehome Hill Historic District is a highly intact, residential, Scandinavian millworker neighborhood in Bellingham. Built between 1895 and 1930 on the north slope of Sehome Hill, the district is entirely residential in character with the exception of the former neighborhood market. The district is associated with the lumber boom in the Pacific Northwest as well as the immigration of Scandinavian millworkers to work in the lumber industry. The architecture of the district is significant as a preserved example of the woodworking skills of the Scandinavian millworkers and carpenters who built and lived in the homes. Many houses in the district display highly detailed and elaborate woodwork crafted in the most popular styles of the era: Craftsman, Foursquare and Victorian.

South Hill Historic District

The South Hill Historic District is a residential district with construction concentrated in the 1920s. The district embodies the themes of Architecture and Community Planning with a booming development of South Hill in the 20th century due in part to the extension of the streetcar line which increased interest in real estate development. Much of the neighborhood was developed speculatively with its land controlled by a small group of Bellingham’s more affluent individuals. The neighborhood was developed over time and presents as a succession of land plat additions, but the four additions at its core (the Town of Bellingham in 1883, Fairhaven Land Company’s First Addition to Fairhaven in 1889, Bellingham Bay Land Company’s 1st addition to Fairhaven in 1890, and the Bellingham Bay Land Company’s 2nd Addition to Bellingham in 1900) formed the network of streets and alleys that define the neighborhood’s current spatial arrangement.

Themes You'll Find at this Main Street

Transportation

The evolution industrial to commercial corridor of Railroad Avenue.

Agriculture

The growth and development of the Washington Egg and Poultry Association.

Stories

Railroad Avenue

Railroad Avenue is named for its original function. The wide street accommodated four sets of tracks that first served the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Railroad in the 1880s and 1890s. When automobiles became common in the 1920s, trains were still running down the center of the street. Trains blocked automobile traffic and made parking perilous. The noise of the trains and their switching disturbed business owners, visitors, and residents. The area continued to be a warehouse district until World War II, hosting auto garages, machine and boiler shops, light industrial sheds, and lodging houses for workers. But Railroad Avenue was also where Santa Claus came to the city and where the world’s tallest Christmas tree, 153-feet high, was delivered in 1949. After the trains ceased running on Railroad Avenue in 1980, the street was converted to two lanes of traffic and four rows of angled parking. It was enhanced with a median, and nearly 100 street trees, including maples, were planted in 1982. Today the street hosts a variety of shops, restaurants, and small businesses.

Washington Egg and Poultry Association Building (AKA the “Granary”)

The Washington Co-Operative Egg & Poultry Association building or “Granary” was built in 1928-29. The reinforced concrete structure sits upon a piling foundation over a full basement of concrete slab on grade with concrete columns. The main structure, two or three stories on different elevations, was covered by a flat roof made of wood frame with torch down and metal while the tower has a gable roof. An industrial-style cupola sat atop the tower, or silo. During the period of the Granary’s construction, the Washington Co-operative Egg & Poultry Association retained the services of George Manthey, a Seattle construction engineer, as Manager of the Engineering Department for at least one year. He is described as the “architect” and construction engineer for the Granary in reports from the Bellingham station, but may not have been formally trained as an architect.

  • As a result of Cooperative’s the success, Washington State became a top producer of eggs, with 40 million shipped in 1925.
  • The Cooperative began with one station in Seattle in 1917 and had 22 branch stations by 1929.
  • Washington Co-Operative Egg & Poultry Association grew from 150 members in 1917 to 8,000 in 1919. Its total sales increased from $214,000 in 1917 to $21,771,085 in 1928.

The Bellingham Station

In 1929, the station was shipping more than four car loads a week and supplying local markets with over 300 cases of eggs each week. The station also had many local clients, including the Hotel Leopold, the Bloedel-Donovan Lumber Mill, the Mount Baker Lodge, Jack Martin’s Café, the Jack & Jill Bakery, the Old Holland Creamery, Empire Meats and Groceries, and the Cloverleaf Dairy. In 1929, the Bellingham station employed 185 people.