Blonden Block
 1890 - 1950

Occupied the Southwest Corner of 11th St. and Harris Ave.
 Whatcom Museum Photo Arvhives #1996.1.4860
Blonden Block, center, Nelson Block, left

In 1883, Rasmus O. Blonden, immigrant from Denmark and resident of Lynden, Washington, bought property in Fairhaven from Daniel J. Harris ("Dirty Dan”). His purchase included property on the south side of Harris Avenue between 10th and 11th streets. He sold the corner portion on the west end at 10th and Harris in 1889 to Philip Morgan of Portland, Oregon, who built the (4) Morgan Block in 1890 where Artwood and Good Earth Pottery are now located. 

A two-story Italianate structure with windows in the Queen Anne style and a three-story corner tower was constructed on the remaining property in 1890 for $12,000. Designed by local architect Jens Olsen, the building had storefronts on the ground floor and was intended for offices and residences above. Olsen also designed the Morgan Block and the 14th Street School (replaced by Lowell School).

The Blonden Block’s prominent corner, beneath the square ogee dome, was initially occupied by Riedell & Moffat, "the oldest real estate firm in Fairhaven.” Other businesses and offices quickly filled the rest of the commercial spaces as streets and sidewalks were planked from Mill to Donovan and street lights were erected. Fairhaven was quickly being transformed from a cluster of simple wooden structures into a thriving community with large ornate brick buildings. Financed by investors and entrepreneurs, the "Imperial City” on Bellingham Bay was rapidly becoming a reality.

With the depression of 1893 growth aspirations failed to materialize, as did the envisioned success of this commercial venture. Blonden turned over title to this structure to the Building and Loan Association of Aberdeen, South Dakota, which had put up the initial financing. Over the years, storefronts turned over frequently with many remaining vacant. The second floor, initially occupied by the Commercial Hotel and later, Commercial Apartments, gradually deteriorated in the succeeding years.
In 1948, the building was almost completely empty and was demolished in 1950.
In the early 1970s the empty corner served as a garden for a cafe in the basement in the Nelson Block across the street and others were starting to using it as a community garden.  Information on a "Hippie Kerfluffle" in 1972 can be found here.
 Blonden Block just before demolition
View is West on Harris Avenue

Today, the property is occupied by two new commercial buildings separated by a cobblestone walkway. The corner lot at 11th and Harris is home to a refurbished 1928 London double-decker bus, for many years used as a fish and chips restaurant.   The corner location will be the site of a nano brewery in Summer 2021.  The bus will be transformed with a hydroponic greenhouse.  



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