1905 Photo by Rembrant Studios
Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #1960.37.128-2
Current location of 12th Street Shoes



Mason Block:  Tenants through the Years

The corner location at 12th and Harris (now 12th Street Shoes) was an early location of the Fairhaven Pharmacy and in later years a jewelry store, restaurant and ice cream shop.  

The Cascade Club, an early exclusive men’s social organization, was located on the 3rd floor. In August of 1895, the club hosted Mark Twain who was in town on a speaking tour. The Kulshan Club took over the site of the former Cascade Club in 1904 until they moved into their own building in 1909.   It was used by the Industrial Club afterwards.

Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #X5872.1

Before the Fairhaven Carnegie Library opened in 1904, the Mason Block housed the Free Reading Room, started by Charles X. Larrabee.

The Mason Block, like the rest of Fairhaven had lost much of its luster as the years went by. By the 1930s the building was mostly vacant. A resident of Fairhaven in the 1960s remarked, "Fairhaven, in those days, was undesirable real estate: somewhat derelict, off the beaten path, and affordable.”



In 1949 Cal’s Tavern, a casualty of the fire at the Citizen's Bank Building (see Vanished Landmarks) on 11th and Harris moved here. A city ordinance prohibited bars above 12th street, so modifications were made to close off any entrance to the bar on Harris. The only entrance into Cal’s was from 12th Street. Known as the after-hours hangout workers from the Pacific American Fisheries, Cals Tavern would remain until 1991.

 Perhaps Fairhaven being abandoned, cheap and neglected, helped to save the Mason Block, since there was no impetus or money to tear it down. The purchase and renovation of the Mason Block in 1972 by developer (and Bellingham native) Ken Imus is important as the beginning of Fairhaven’s revival.