South Hill Neighborhood 
by Gayle Helgoe      
 
 

 
The South Hill neighborhood is one of the most desirable residential areas in the city of Bellingham.  With its sweeping views of Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands and both the Olympic Mountain range and the Canadian Coastal range, homes in this neighborhood command a premium price.    
Many of the structures below 17th Street were built in the late 19th, early 20th centuries by prominent local business and professional citizens.  The Gamwell House (1892), Wardner’s Castle (1890), the Bateman House (1892) and Alfred Black House (1903) all boast National Historic Register status and provide the neighborhood with an air of history and prosperity.      
 
A streetcar line served Garden and 16th Streets beginning in 1909 and facilitated access and development to this hilly area lying above the town of Fairhaven.  Public transportation along this route continued for almost 100 years—having been eliminated in 2005 with a restructuring of the local transit system.     


 
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, built in 1912 and Lowell Elementary School (1914) are two of the non-residential historic structures that still occupy prominent corners within this neighborhood.    
 
Today, architectural styles vary widely—from stately Victorians and handsome Tudors to modern Northwest Regional and ranch-style structures.  The cohesive thread in this neighborhood, no matter the style of home, is the pride of property and the warmth of its neighbors.  The residents frequently walk its streets and alleys and often stop to chat with other residents working in their gardens or enhancing the quality of their property with various types of home improvements.     
 
 At the base of the South Hill is a true jewel of Bellingham’s waterfront—the Taylor Avenue Dock reconstruction and boardwalk linking to Boulevard Park.  The dock was built in the late 1800s and was used for a variety of commercial ventures, including a canning factory, an offloading facility for bulk fuel operations, and a cargo dock.  Today, residents stroll along the water, enjoying the view of the San Juan Islands and the mountains beyond.        
 
In 2010, the South Hill Neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  With this designation, it is hoped that new home-buyers in this attractive neighborhood will respect the integrity of the many modest vintage dwellings and refrain from extensive remodeling or outright replacement, creating over-sized structures that would threaten neighbors’ prized views and compromise the neighborhood’s historical character.         
 
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