Fairhaven's Hidden
Firehouse Map
 Whatcom Museum Photo Archives #1989002700216
1950s Photo of Fire Station #2 with map

Hidden behind a wall at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center is a large map of Bellingham.  The map was created sometime after the 1927 opening of Fire Station #2  and updated until the early 1960s.
 The map, 11 feet by 11 feet, is painted on the concrete wall of the former garage that housed the fire engine.  When the building was remodeled by Matt Christman as a performing arts center,  the map was covered by wall sections that had been installed with hinges.  See photo. below.
The firehouse map depicts the locations of fire hydrants and vacated roads in Fairhaven and Bellingham.  In earlier days, similar maps were installed at the other fire stations.   One of map was located in the former Bellingham Fire Department, now Syre Center and home to the Whatcom Museum Photo archives.  Photo Archivist Jeff Jewell believes that the Firehouse map in Fairhaven is the only one that still remains today.
The painter of this original map in unknown.  Firefighter Ken Reimers updated it in the 1950s.    

Former owner, Matt Christman points to Fairhaven

Photo by Debby Meyers 
Whatcom Museum Photo Archives

Matt Christman, former owner of the Firehouse, calls it a time capsule.   It is indeed  a snapshot of Bellingham before the early 1960s and the construction of Interstate 5.  The Interstate would be completed in 1966.
Donovan Avenue before construction of Old Fairhaven Parkway
 Photo by Debby Meyers
The map above shows Donovan Avenue as a straight route from 4th Street to 34th Street...an early view of the Fairhaven and Happy Valley neighborhoods.   In 1987, Old Fairhaven Parkway took over much of Donovan Avenue and a detour was created at 10th Street to move traffic down to Harris Avenue, and away from the Fairhaven residential neighborhood.

South route to Seattle via Chuckanut Drive
Photo by Debby Meyers

The Edgemoor Neighborhood is visible on the map, just below Fairhaven.   The words "To Seattle" along Chuckanut Drive (Pacific Highway) is another reminder the map predates the opening of Interstate 5 when Chuckanut Drive was the only option to and from Seattle by automobile.