Waldron Block (1891 / 1894)

1211 11th Street
 

Charles W. Waldron, banker from Michigan, settled in the town of Fairhaven in 1889 and built this three-story brick and sandstone building in the Richardson Romanesque style in 1891. After first opening his Bank of Fairhaven on Harris Avenue, Waldron moved into his new building on the northwest corner of 12th Street and McKenzie Avenue. His name was cut in stone at the top of the building, and the name of his bank emblazoned in large letters facing the bay and visible to all newcomers.
 
In 1893, his bank failed along with others around Bellingham Bay. Waldron, convinced of the economic viability of the region, commenced the addition of a fourth story to his building. A fire, ignited by burn barrels installed to help dry the mortar of the fourth floor, resulted in a total loss of the building in January, 1894. Insurance paid for partial reconstruction that rendered only the first and second stories habitable.

The first floor was occupied by retail establishments with apartments and offices on the second floor. Among the early tenants were Charles Cissna’s general merchandise store and George Hohl’s hay and feed company. Cissna’s store became the popular Fair department store in New Whatcom. Hohl’s Feed and Seed continues to operate on Railroad Avenue in downtown Bellingham.

The Kulshan Tavern, a favorite of local southsiders from the 1930s until 1975, occupied the corner space that was originally built for Waldron’s Bank of Fairhaven.
 
In 1973, the exterior was cleaned, the shop-front trim repainted and boards were removed from the unglazed window openings on the upper floors. Still somewhat of an eyesore, the vacant building was purchased in 2005 by developer, David Ebenal. The once derelict building now houses luxury condominiums on the upper floors, and a bank once again occupies the prominent corner at 12th and McKenzie and is listed on the Local Historic Register.