Monahan Building:  Tenants through the Years

1905 Photo by Rembrandt Studio
Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #1960.37.119
The Turf Saloon, owned by Thomas Monahan, was the first tenant in the building. Unlike many of Fairhaven's saloons, with their questionable activity upstairs, the Monahans always kept a respectable business. For almost 50 years the Monahan family (and later their descendants, the Johnsons) lived upstairs. Although a stairway leads to the upstairs from the main entrance on 11th Street, the rear entrance would have been much more residential-like, with a porch and garden.

The Turf Saloon, along with all establishments serving alcohol would have closed with the "Dry Ballot” of 1910. From 1927 to 1929, this building was home to George Finnegan’s Fairhaven Pharmacy.  (See link below)

The Monahan Building provided a new home for two tenants uprooted by the 1949 fire that destroyed the Citizens Bank Building (also known as the Sandwick Building). John Sandwick, son of Otto, a noted confectioner in Fairhaven, relocated Sandwick’s Grocery and Fountain to the Monahan Building. Gordon Tweit remembers Sandwick’s marble counter and that delicious fudge made in the back of the building. The Sandwick family, including Ottos’ widow Olga, lived in the upstairs residence through the 1950’s.

1950s photo
Whatcom Museum Photo Archives
Gordy Tweit Collection

Another business owner forced to find a new location was Frank Austin, a Dutch shoemaker and owner of Reliable Shoe Repair. Frank’s sign, shaped like a boot, can be see in the photo to the right.

1970s photo
Whatcom Museum Photo Archives
Gordy Tweit Collection

Watching Movies in Fairhaven

In 1974, the Picture Show Theater occupied the ground floor. It is hard to imagine there was enough space in this narrow building, only 25 feet wide, for a cinema. The interior walls were stripped down to their original red brick and decorated with old movie posters.   The Picture Show originally showed 16mm films by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Rob Olason took over the Picture Show in the early 1980s and changed to a 35mm format for the showing of current releases.

Whatcom Museum Photo Historian, Jeff Jewell remembers seeing "Das Boot” and describes the theater as the perfect location to see a film exploring the claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat. (Click here for view of interior.)  Fairhaven Artist Ben Mann fondly remembers "The Creature from the Black Lagoon” in 3-D.  Rob, who owned Trek Video until 2014, also owned the Fairhaven Cinema located in the historic Schering Building, now the site of Renaissance Celebration. 

In the early 1990s the two movie theaters in Fairhaven were forced to close when Bellis Fair Mall opened a multi-plex and film distribution became a problem. Note: Movies still exist in Fairhaven during the summer on the Village Green, thanks to the Historic Fairhaven Association and John Servais, who owns the website

Since 1999

The Monahan Building is home to the popular Fairhaven Runner & Walkers store. Steve Roguski, the store’s owner, has decorated the walls with historic photos of the Monahan Building.  The upstairs residences have been well-maintained over the years and are used today as offices.

The Turf Saloon

Fairhaven Pharmacy's Fourth Location

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