The Cowgill House 1890 - 1891
Occupied the site at the Northeast corner of 13th St. and Harris Ave.
Whatcom Museum #1996.01 3819
Edgar L. Cowgill (pronounced Co-gill), born near Dover, Delaware, came to Fairhaven from Tacoma in 1888 and became a leading businessman and a member of the town council at the time of incorporation in 1890.
Cowgill built one of the first homes in Fairhaven on the northeast corner of 13th Street and Harris Avenue in 1890. He was married to Lillie Wasmer, whose sister, Emma, was married to Fairhaven entrepreneur, Charles Schering, and also sister to Bertha Wasmer, wife of "Dirty Dan” Harris, founder of Fairhaven.
Soon after the house was built, plans were made to erect a grand opera house on this site, behind the newly constructed Fairhaven Hotel. So, in March, 1891, the home was hauled up the hill along 14th Street to Knox Avenue and laid to rest at the corner of 17th and Knox.
|Site of original Cowgill House location |
The now-vacant property behind the hotel was excavated, but financing for the opera house fell victim to the depression of the 1890s, and the excavated land remained idle until the property was paved over in the mid-1970s for a parking lot to serve the newly-renovated Marketplace in the Mason Block (now Sycamore Square).
The second location of the Cowgill house, at 1705 Knox Avenue, became the home of Dennis K. Butler, proprietor of the Sideboard Saloon in the Terminal Building. In 1914, Butler sold the property on Knox to Robert Forbes, Alaska manager for Pacific American Fisheries. By 1917, Forbes had built an elegant new residence on this property, and the original Cowgill house was again relocated.
The house was moved back down the hill to a third location at 2614 Donovan Avenue and became the home of the Frederick L. Schaefer family. In 1997 the house was sold on a contingency basis with plans to move it yet again, this time across the bay to Lummi Island. That plan fell through, however, and the house, still on this site, is now the community office and gathering place for the Bellingham Co-Housing group.