Lairmont Manor

405 Fieldstone
Edgemoor Neighborhood
Charles Xavier Larrabee was one of the most influential men in the development of the town of Fairhaven.  Born in Portville, New York, in 1843, raised in Omro, Wisconsin, Larrabee made his fortune in the copper mines of Montana.  He also maintained a horse ranch near Deer Lodge, Montana, along with his entrepreneurial brother, (Samuel) Ed Larabie (a name variant adopted by his brother).

With his considerable fortune, Larrabee moved further west to Portland in 1887 where he established business dealings with investor, Nelson Bennett and railroad magnate, James J. Hill.  Bennett at this time was promoting development in and around the burgeoning town of Fairhaven on Bellingham Bay.  After several visits, Larrabee relocated to Fairhaven in 1890.
Principal financier of the Fairhaven Land Company, along with Bennett, E.M. Wilson, E.L. Cowgill and his brother, Samuel Edward, Larrabee was instrumental in building this small settlement into a thriving city, both economically and socially.

Earlier in 1890, on a trip to Boston, Charles Larrabee met a bright and talented young woman from Missouri, Frances Frazier Payne, whose family records a rich history in the growth of our nation.  They were married on August 2, 1892.  Frances (Fannie) was 25, Charles was 49.

Upon their arrival in Fairhaven, they took up residence in the elegant Fairhaven Hotel, built and owned by Larrabee.  Their entire marriage, and the birth of their four children was spent in this grand hotel.  The hotel, however, ultimately failed as a business enterprise due largely to Larrabee’s ban on the serving of alcohol on the premises.  He had blamed alcohol for the desertion of his family by his father when Larrabee was a young boy.

The Larrabees decided to build a family home on property they owned in what is now the Edgemoor neighborhood--a name derived from their description of the land south of their home site as "the moor.”  Noted Seattle architect, Carl Gould, was hired to design what would become a 25-room mansion.

C.X. Larrabee, however, died before construction commenced, and Frances took over its supervision.  The home has a distinctive European look with stucco, tile and terra cotta on the exterior, and the interior features fancy woodwork from Italy with glass doors and ironwork imported from Belgium.  A port-cochere on the north side shelters the formal entrance.

Frances Larrabee embraced several innovative features which included a central vacuum system, a telephone intercom system, a large electric clothes dryer in the laundry room, and the landscaping surrounding the home boasted an underground irrigation system.

After the death of Mrs. Larrabee in 1941, the house became the novitiate for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, founders of St. Joseph Hospital.  They called it Mount Saint Mary’s Novitiate.

In 1967, Joel Douglas purchased the property, and it is now operated as a nonprofit, available as a venue for special occasions.  Douglas coined the name Lairmont, reflecting its history as home to the Larrabees and the former site of Mount Saint Mary’s Novitiate.  Lairmont Manor is on the National Register of Historic Places.


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