Bellingham Washington Walking Tour
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The YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) in Bellingham been an important institution serving the community since its founding in 1907. In 1915 it moved into this historic building, which was built, in large part, with funds from wealthy businessman Charles X. Larrabee, whose wife was a leader of the Bellingham YWCA. The YWCA's mission has been to support women and girls in need (through housing, job training, and other services) and to empower them to effectuate positive social change. The building itself is also significant for its sophisticated Colonial Revival architecture. Notable features include decorative brackets under the roof eaves, large floor-to-ceiling windows on the first floor, and an attractive front entrance portico with Doric columns. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 for its association with the YWCA and architecture.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, this historic home was once the residence of prominent local civic leader, industrialist, lumberman, and railroad engineer and executive J.J. Donovan. Donovan was instrumental in developing Bellingham in the late 18th and early 20th centuries. The house, which is located prominently on a hill overlooking Bellingham Bay, was originally built by its first owner, Edward Fischer, in 1890. In terms or architecture, Fischer designed it in the Stick/Eastlake style but Donovan expanded the home and changed its design to the Tudor Revival style. For many years, the house was a women's dormitory for Western Washington University.
Hotel Leo is a historic hotel located in the heart of downtown Bellingham. It has been at this location since 1899 and originally called the Byron Hotel after the man who built it—Captain Josiah B. Byron. The hotel consists of a building was constructed in 1929 as an addition to the original building, and a modern addition erected in 1967. By the time the 1929 addition was built, the hotel was called the Leopold Hotel, after a brew master named Leopold Schmidt bought it in 1910. In terms of architecture, the hotel was designed in the Mission style and, besides some ornamental brickwork, features little decoration. For many years the Leopold was a bustling social center and considered the best hotel in the city, hosting many famous people including President William Howard Taft, politician and skilled orator William Jennings Bryan, and actor Clark Gable. Today, Hotel Leo offers guests updated rooms and modern amenities. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Opened in 2003, the Bellingham Railway Museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the city's railroading history. It is located in a storefont space of a large parking structure in downtown Bellingham. The museum features model trains and layouts, numerous railroad-related artifacts, and photographs. The museum is operated by volunteers, some of whom built many of the trains and layouts.
Now referred to as the Federal Building, the former U.S. Post Office and Courthouse is the finest example of Second Italian Renaissance Revival architecture in Bellingham. Built it in 1913, the three-story building features a sandstone facade, large arched windows on the Magnolia Street side, decorative stonework, two cast bronze lamps on either side of the main entrance, bas-relief medallions, an ornate cornice (the top edge of the walls), and a mission tile roof. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the building still houses a post office as well as federal government offices.
This building was completed in 1913 for the local chapter of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), a fraternal order that offered social opportunities for members and organized philanthropic endeavors. The Elks were founded in 1868 in New York City and the Bellingham chapter of the order occupied this building for several decades and played an important role in the city's social, cultural, and civic life. The structure remains a fine example of Neo-Classical Revival architecture and one of the more attractive buildings in downtown Bellingham. Notable features include an ornate cornice, white columns, and unique arched windows on the second floor. The interior has been significantly altered. For a time the building was home to an Italian restaurant. Its current status as of early 2020 is unclear but it has remained an important landmark in the city. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
The historic Mount Baker Theatre is significant as one of the last surviving grand movie palaces built in the region. Erected in 1927, its design is also unique. Architect R.C. Reamer, who designed Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone Park, designed the theatre in the Moorish-Spanish style. It features a concrete and terra cotta exterior, Spanish tiles, a tall octagonal tower with a dome and arches. The design is more elaborate inside, incorporating decorations of French Baroque, Moroccan, Hindu, Mayan, and other cultural styles. The auditorium itself features a large decorated dome, an ornate chandelier, and an 80x30-foot stage, and a functioning Wurlitzer organ. When it opened, the theatre could host vaudeville acts and show movies. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, it continues to be a popular performance and arts education venue.
The Whatcom Museum explores the art and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. It houses a collection of 30,000 items of art, history, and ethnography, as well as a photograph collection numbering more than 200,000. The museum is comprised of three buildings: the historic Old City Hall, the Syre Education Center, and the Lightcatcher building. The museum offers a variety of art and history exhibitions as well as youth and adult programs. Historical exhibitions and the museum's most popular programs are held in the Old City Hall. The Syre Education Center houses the photograph collection and a bird collection; educational programs are also held there. The Lightcatcher Building, which is named for its large translucent wall, holds art exhibitions throughout the year and houses the Family Interactive Gallery (a museum space geared for children).
Erected in 2008, this monument acknowledges the often brutal treatment of nonwhite immigrants with an emphasis on three tragic events: the expulsion of Japanese immigrants in 1885, the 1907 Bellingham Riots against East Indian mill workers, and the placement of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II.
Named after the company that built it, T.G. Richards & Co., the Richards Building is the oldest surviving brick building in the state of Washington. Two business partners of the company built it in July 1858 with the intention of using it as a store to sell goods to miners who were starting to make their way to the Fraser gold fields in British Columbia, Canada (gold was discovered there in 1857). The building is also historically significant for its simple, yet utilitarian Classical Revival architecture, it was later used as a courthouse, meeting hall, post office, and church. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, it appears to be undergoing a second phase of restoration as of early 2020.
The Pickett House is the oldest house standing in the city of Bellingham and the oldest, documented wooden structure on its original site in the state of Washington. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house was built in 1856 by West Point graduate Captain George Edward Pickett (1825-1870) of Company D, 9th U.S. Infantry. Pickett later became a major general of the Confederate Army during the Civil War (1861-1865). He is best known for his role in the failed Confederate assault called "Pickett's Charge" during the Battle of Gettysburg, which was the turning point of the war. The local chapter of Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington has maintained this historic treasure since 1936 and conducts tours for the public.
Now called Broadway Hall, the Aftermath Clubhouse is significant for being the former home of Aftermath Club, a women's organization established in 1896. It is believed that the building was the first women's clubhouse in the state. The club was initially meant to be literary and social club but eventually started offering education programs and getting involved in community affairs through charitable work. The building, which the club built in 1905, is also notable for its Italian Villa design. It features an arcaded balcony with tower-like structures on either side, an arcaded entranceway, an auditorium space on the first floor, and a large ballroom on the second floor. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now a popular wedding and event venue.