Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #1996.01.1724

Knights of Pythias Building (1891)

1208-1210 11th Street

This substantial three-story building of sandstone, brick and iron, in the Richardson Romanesque style, was completed in the summer of 1891. Clothiers, McDougall and Dodson, and hardware purveyors, Gates and Fraser were the property owners. Their two businesses occupied the ground floor. The upper floors were home to the Knights of Pythias and Masonic Lodge.

While these two societies were featured prominently on the building’s upper façade, other benevolent, social and fraternal organizations shared meeting space on these floors. By the mid-1920s, the Knights of Pythias moved their meetings to the Leopold Hotel on Cornwall Avenue, and the Masonic Lodge built a new structure on the corner of State and Maple streets. The upper floors then began a transition to offices and apartments. The last legitimate occupation on these floors ended in the early 1960s. Removal of the lower portion of the rear fire escape discouraged occupation by "unofficial” upper floor residents.

The storefront businesses changed hands frequently over the years. However, a hardware store occupied space for nearly eighty years. Gates and Fraser transitioned to G.A. McIntosh Hardware Co. until 1907 when Groom, Adams and Carter opened Adams & Co. Bert Groom became principal owner and Groom’s Hardware occupied this space until 1972 when it became known as Al’s Promart Home Center.

1980s Photo
Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #2009.18.81a

In 1985, Village Books moved into the building from the space next door, now occupied by Paper Dreams. The Colophon Café opened in the former hardware store space. The basement storage area was renovated for expansion of these two businesses.  In 2004, Village books relocated to a new structure on the corner of 11th Street and Mill Avenue.  Their former space is now home to Drizzle Olive Oil and Tasting Room.  

While storefronts and their interior spaces have seen significant remodeling and renovation over the years, the upper floors appear much as they were originally constructed.  As of today the owners, a Las Vegas corporation, do not appear to have plans for further renovation or development of this historic structure.


Video:  The Knights of Pythias Building
 Jim Rich is back as the Spirit of Dirty Dan Harris to narrate a story of another Fairhaven icon, the Knights of Pythias Building.

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