Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #1995.01.186



Bellingham Herald Headlines

Sunday, September 11, 1949


Sandwick Building Destroyed; Seven Families Homeless

Fire gutting the old Sandwick building at Eleventh and Harris avenue at mid-day Saturday, left seven families homeless and burned out three business establishment

Ripping through walls of the ancient structure, the blaze caused a general alarm which brought even off-duty firemen to the scene. Smoke blanketed the area for hours as the firefighters directed tons of water at the flames from three angles.

Fire department authorities attributed the blaze to a cigarette, probably thrown from the higher regions of the building.

"The evidence shows that the fire started between the barber shop and the main wall of the building," Assistant Chief Bert Groom noted. The outside of the building was charred, he said and the fire had eaten through to the inside of the wall.

Only injuries suffered in fighting the flames were minor cuts and bruises, Groom said after checking his men.

Apartment residents - some of the having to flee the building to safety - lost practically all their belongings. One family that of Dale E Davis, luckily had moved its effects to a new address before the fire.


A tavern operated by Wilmer Callihan, located on the corner at the street location, was damaged by water and falling debris. A barber shop operated by Bill Berthiaume, adjoining the main part of the building on Harris avenue, met the same fate. Frank Austin's shoe store and repair shop was damaged.

Callihan who said his establishment was insured for its stock and fixtures, estimated loss there at about $15,000.

John Sandwick, son of the building's owner, estimated roughly that the building’s loss, together with the loss of furnishings and fixtures, might total about $18,000. William C. Sorenson owner of the equipment in the small barber shop, was out of town Saturday, and no estimate was made of the loss at that business. Austin could not be reached for an estimate of the loss of his business sustained Saturday.

The business establishments were located on the street level and the dwellings occupied the second and top floors. A large crowd watched the long strugge of firemen during the noon hour and early afternoon. At one point, a damaged 2,300 volt power line, struck by a fire house, caused the crowd to exercise extra caution, but no one was injured.


The Sandwick building, constructed in 1891 by Peter W. Strader and Harry L. Kinney housed Fairhaven's first bank, which later became incorporated as the Citizens Bank and moved its offices. About that time, Otto Sandwick began his candy business there.

It is owned by his widow, Mrs. Olga Sandwick....

The upstairs apartments of the building had been leased by the government for housing units until about a year ago, when they were turned back to Mrs. Sandwick.

Firemen moved two hoses to the roof of the old Masonic Temple next door to the burning structure on Eleventh. This building suffered little, if any, damage, it was reported.





Copyright © 2020 FairhavenHistory.com Website by ProFusion Web Solutions