Mason Block (1890)
SE Corner of 12th Street and Harris Avenue
 

1890 Fairhaven Illustrated - Whatcom Museum

The exceptional size of this building—a quarter of a block—marks this structure as the cornerstone of the Fairhaven Historic District. Financed by Tacoma investor and philanthropist, Allen C. Mason, it was completed in July of 1890 at a cost of $50,000. The design is clearly related to the multi-storied Richardsonian Romanesque office buildings that were being erected in Seattle after the Great Fire of 1889.

Originally, four ground floor shops facing Harris Avenue housed a succession of dry goods merchants, clothiers, grocers and pharmacists. The shop at the south end facing 12th Street was occupied by investment bankers, Roland Gamwell and Charles Warner.



The upper stories featured offices of doctors, dentists, lawyers and realtors—some with housekeeping facilities. The first tenant of the building was homeopathic physician, Dr. William R. Gray from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. The legacy of Dr. Gray is chronicled in his published letters to his fiancé, "My Darling Anna”, published 2009, compiled with historical sketches of early Fairhaven by Brian Griffin and Neelie Nelson.
 

The top story housed an exclusive men’s club, The Cascade Club, which hosted such notables as Mark Twain and William Howard Taft. Women were not allowed on the premises.

The Mason Block was purchased and renovated in 1973 by Ken Imus and renamed The Marketplace. This was the impetus for the revival of the Fairhaven district as it slowly began to once again flourish as a hub of business activity and residential occupation.

 Now owned by Patrick Uy and renamed Sycamore Square, this structure has undergone further renovation and is enhanced with displays of historic photographs and colorful artwork depicting the Fairhaven boomtown at the turn of the last century.

 
 
 
 
 
          Ken Imus         
 
 


 
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