The Morgan Block (1890)
1000 - 1002 Harris Avenue

Louis Swanson in 1905

The Morgan Block was built by Phillip and Mary Ann Morgan from property purchased in 1889 from Rasmus and Anne Blonden. The Morgans, from Portland, Oregon, built this three-story structure of wood, adding a brick veneer to the sides facing Harris Avenue and 10th Street.

The ground floor had two retail spaces with a central stairway leading to the residential rooms upstairs known as the Morgan House. The store at 1002 Harris Avenue had several tenants in the early years--the Baltimore Oyster House (Hagicos and Santtos) among the most well-known. The corner space at 1000 Harris Avenue was J.W. Hanson’s men’s clothing store and later the Morgan House Bar. The saloon proprietor, Louis Swanson and his wife, Hilda, operated and, in 1900, purchased the Morgan House and ran it with their two sons, Charles and Edward. After the 1910 Bellingham ban on alcohol in public places, the property was operated as a billiards parlor and restaurant. The rooms upstairs continued to be rented for many years following.

Photo Credit:  1905 Photo by Rembrandt Studio  Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #1960.37.155

Businesses in the Morgan Block at the turn of the last century were particularly challenged by the purported practice of displaying dead bodies on the corner of 10th and Harris in the hopes of identification from passers-by when no other identification means were available. A concrete marker reads, "Unknown dead men displayed here in 1901”.  Such was the character of Fairhaven in those early years. The middle years of the past century were not kind to the Morgan House. After many years of vacant storefronts and seedy upstairs inhabitation, the building was purchased by Bill Hyde as part of the People’s Land Trust. With a monumental effort to restore the structural integrity of the building, it became the first home of the Community Food Co-op and Good Earth Pottery in the early 1970s.

Today, the building is still operated as a cooperative with Good Earth Pottery continuing to occupy the corner space and Artwood Cooperative in the renovated adjacent space. The upper floors now house the studios of local artists and writers. 

   by Lanny Little  


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