Fairhaven's 17 Historic Buildings

 Mural of Fairhaven in 1927 by Lanny Little
The once Fairhaven Hotel looms large in the background.    
The Terminal Building (today Old Independent Coffeehouse) occupies the former Busy Corner.  

In 1977, the Fairhaven Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
The District includes 17 historic commercial structures built between 1889 and 1929.   
Click the photo of each building if you wish to see historic photos and learn more.


Buildings of Primary Historic Significance        
1889 - 1909
 Listed by date of Construction
Fourteen buildings from the speculative boom around 1890 to the period of the First World War and have retained much of their architectural integrity. 

1.  Terminal Building  1888/1889
       1101-1103 Harris Avenue

The Terminal Building is the oldest of Fairhaven's historic Buildings and is the only historic building that has been in continual use since it opened in 1888. Once the location of the "Busy Corner" and later the "Terminal Store", it was home to Tony's Coffee (now Old Independent Coffeehouse) and Harris Street Cafe.   In the painting above, you can see the Terminal Building as it looked in 1927 as the Busy Corner!  


2.   E. M. Day Building  1890 
       1211 11th Street

This single-story structure was constructed as a wooden building during the building boom of 1890 when real estate investors were expecting the Great Northern Railroad terminus to be located in Fairhaven.  Brick was added to the building in the early 1900s and was a notorious hippie hangout, Plutos, in the late 1960s and early 70s.  The building is named after an early tenant, Edwin Mahlon Day.  Since 1974 it has been home to Dirty Dan's restaurant. 
3.  Mason Block  1890
       SE Corner of 12th Street and Harris Avenue

Named after Allen C. Mason of Tacoma, the Mason Block was occupied by  doctors, dentists, lawyers and realtors.  The Cascade Club, an exclusive men's club was located on the top story, hosted such notables as Mark Twain and William Howard Taft.  It was purchased in the early 1970s by Ken Imus, renovated and renamed the Marketplace, the first step of Fairhaven's revival. It is now named Sycamore Square.

4.  Morgan Block  1890
      1000 - 1002 Harris Avenue

The Morgan Block is constructed of wood, with a brick veneer on three sides.  In the early years, the building was a restaurant and saloon with residential units on the upper floors.  The Community Co-op started here in the 1970s before moving downtown.  Good Earth Pottery has been at the corner location since 1972.  Artwood took over the former Co-op just in time for Ski to Sea in 1988.  Today the upper floors house the studios of local artists.  The 2nd floor was occupied by the underground newspaper, Northwest Passage, from 1969 to 1977.  
5.  Monahan Building  1890
      1209 11th Street
Thomas Monahan, an Irish Immigrant constructed this two-story building and relocated his liquor business here.  His business was known as "The Turf" and featured "fine lines of imported wines, liquors and cigars..."  It also served as a betting parlor for sporting events.  After the "Dry Ballot" of 1910, many other business occupied this space, including the Fairhaven Pharmacy, before moving to it's current location.  In the 1970s this building was home to a small motion picture theater and since 1999 has been Fairhaven Runners and Walkers. 


6.  Grad Building   1890
       1408-1410 11th Street    
This two-story brick building was built in late 1890 by Michael Grad, who operated several saloons in Fairhaven.   Early on his building was used as a liquor distributor with a bar in the basement.  The Grad family resided for many years in this building.   The structure was purchased by a group of architects in the 1990s and was extensively remodeled.  It is currently the offices of Fairhaven Health.  The corner parking lot was once the "calaboose", another term for jail. 


7.  Fairhaven Cash Grocery  1891
      1204-1206 11th Street

This building is a prime example of the real estate "boom" in 1890 selling for for $2,500 one morning and later that day resold for $12,000!  A new grocery store was open in April 1891 and it became a succession of grocery stores for many decades.   Purchased in the 1970s by Ken Imus and extensively remodeled.  It was the first location of Village Books in 1980 and is now occupied by sister-company Paper Dreams. 


8.  Knights of Pythias   1891
      1208-1210 11th Street     

A substantial three-story building, the top floor was home to the Knights of Pythias and Masonic Lodge.  The second floor was used as offices and later lodging.  The storefront businesses changed hands frequently over the years, however a hardware store occupied the space for nearly 80 years.  From 1985 to 2004, Village Books occupied the southern half of the building, that space to be an Italian restaurant in 2020.  Colophon Cafe opened in 1995 and  now occupies downstairs space that opens on to the Village Green.   Their former location is now a tasting room for Drizzle Olive Oil and Vinegar.


9.  Waldron Block  1891
       NW Corner of McKenzie and 12th Street
Charles Waldron, a wealthy banker from Michigan, built this 3-story building for his Bank of Fairhaven.  When Waldron added a 4th story to his building in 1894, a fire started and he was left with only 2 usable floors.  The Bank failed shortly thereafter.  Used for various various businesses and residental, the corner bank location became the Kulshan Tavern.   The building was purchased by Dave Ebenal and turned into luxury condos in 2009.  The corner once again became the location of a bank (or two) and now is a real estate office.  


10.  Nelson Block 1900
         SE Corner of Harris Avenue and 11th Street
Construction at this important Fairhaven corner began in 1891.  The basement of the McKechnie building was completed and foundation laid before Fairhaven's boom faded.  It was covered with boards.  Nine years later, J.P. Nelson, purchased the corner in 1900 to build a bank.  BANK is displayed prominently at the top of the building, which has had many uses, including residential.  The basement was home to the popular  "Toad Hall" starting in 1969.  Purchased in the 1970s by Ken Imus and renovated, his office was upstairs.   A plaque honoring Ken can be found at the 11th Street entrance.  


11.  Bellingham Bay Hotel  1902
        909-911 Harris Avenue
This two story brick building would be leased as a saloon and lodging house.  It was the Capital Brewing Company, which became the Olympia Brewing Company.  It was  later a grocery store.  The top floor was the Bellingham Bay Hotel, and then the Hotel Barcona.  Purchased in 1972 by Ken Imus, it was used as storage for the next 30 years.  It was renovated by Ken's son, Tim Imus.   The ground floor is the Bay to Baker Trading Company (and visitor center) and Fairhaven Toy Garden.


12.  Schering Block  1903
913 & 915 Harris Avenue
Named after owner, Charles Schering, this building replaced a wood building destroyed by fire.  The Elk Saloon re-opened in the corner space.  The top floor was a meeting hall, used in 1930s and 40s as the Croation Hall for dances and celebrations.  The building has been used for various mechanical and manufacturing businesses, including a fiberglass boat-building firm.  The building was purchased by developer Ken Imus in 1972.  The 913 Harris address was the location of the Chimney Sweep for 40 years, from 1979 to 2019.  It is now Adored - A Lovely Boutique.  The corner location at 915 Harris has been home to the Fairhaven Cinema, Eclipse Bookstore and Renaissance Glass.  It is currently BabyGreens plant store. The upper floors are used for offices.  Archer Ale House is located in the basement.


13.  Fairhaven Carnegie Library  1904
          1117 12th Street
The main portion of the 3 floors of the library is on the first floor, with a large meeting room on the top floor.  When the library opened in 1904, it offered a  separate entrance under the stairs that housed a reading room for men "in their working clothes" so as not to offend the sensitivities of the ladies.   By 1910 the brick exterior was inadequate to keep out moisture and was coated on three sides with stucco.  A renovation in 2009 has enhanced the integrity of this important civic building in the historic district.

14.  Kulshan Club  1909
        1120 Finnegan Way /  1127 11th Street

 The Kulshan Club was an exclusive men's club.  In 1908 the members decided to build a clubhouse, complete with bowling alley directly across the street from the Carnegie Library on 12th Street.  In 1935 the clubhouse was moved down the hill one block to accommodate a new street named after Fairhaven Pharmacist George Finnegan.  It now sits between 11th Street and Finnegan Way.   A large flagpole and Veteran's memorial now resides at the earlier club house location.  Today, the building is used for apartments.


Buildings of Secondary Historic Significance  1911 - 1927
These three buildings have either been remodeled without retaining their original character (South Bellingham Post Office) or were built after the period of significance but are more than fifty years old and occupy a prominent location within the historic district (Chuckanut Motors and Fairhaven Pharmacy).

15.  South Bellingham Post Office 1890/1911
          1304-1306 11th Street
In 1890 a  two-story wooden structure was occupied by the Casino Theatre and Tontine Saloon.  Furnished rooms occupied the second floor, right in the middle of what was known as "Devil's Row". 
Around 1911, the building became a one-story structure housing a paper bottle factory.    The South Bellingham Post Office was located here by 1917 and was a post office at various times for 50+ years.  As with much of Fairhaven, this building was purchased by Ken Imus in the 1970s and substantially renovated with building materials from historic Sacramento.   Skylark's Hidden Cafe has been at this location since 1997 and currently shares the ground floor with a real estate company.
16.  Chuckanut Motors  1919
          SE Corner of Harris Avenue and 12th Street
This one-story structure with basement and wood truss roof was built to house the Kulshan Motor Company, an automobile dealership and garage.  A new era of auto tourism had arrived in Bellingham.   In 1924, new owners renamed it the Chuckanut Motor Company with a focus on auto repair.  In the 1970s the building was purchased and renovated  by Clifford and Phyllis McKee, renaming the building Finnegan's Alley in honor of Fairhaven pharmacist, George Finnegan who was an investor in the original Kulshan Motor Company.  Gallery West has occupied the corner since 1972.
17.  Fairhaven Pharmacy   1929
          NW Corner of Harris Avenue and 12th Street
The Fairhaven Pharmacy building was built in 1929 by pharmacist/humorist George Finnegan, who described the one-story building as "the shortest shopping tower south of Alaska."  The Fairhaven Hotel was across the street.  This was the last of five locations that the pharmacy would occupy since opening in 1889.  Historian and Fairhaven treasure, Gordy Tweit was pharmacist from 1962 to 1991.  For almost 25 years afterwards held court every Friday in his basement museum.   Today George Finnegan's former pharmacy is now Current and Furbish sharing the rest of the tower with  El Agave restaurant.  


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