| Woodstock Farm |
The acquisition of the Woodstock Farm property by the Bellingham Parks Department in 2004 ensures the preservation of this historic country estate created by Cyrus Gates in 1905. According to the Parks Department website, "The site was purchased for public enjoyment of a substantially wild and continuous marine shoreline, for its unique set of island views and landscapes, for its diverse wildlife habitats and as a public heritage site featuring cultural features from prehistoric times and the early 1900’s.”
The property was purchased for 2.9 million dollars from the heirs of Raymond and Gladyce Lee. Raymond Lee was the son of Peter P. Lee, Bellingham wholesale grocer active in the early 1900’s and honored by Lee Memorial Park and fountain which lies between the downtown library and City Hall. The Lees had acquired the estate from the Gates family.
|Cyrus Gates named his property after a favorite place of his early life near Woodstock, Vermont. He was invited to move to Fairhaven in 1890 by C.X. Larrabee, and he became closely involved in the Larrabee family’s financial enterprises. The estate provided Gates an opportunity to display his interests in animal husbandry and gardening. || |
The main house, in Craftsman style, the barn, chicken coop, gardener’s cottage and caretaker’s home were remodeled by Raymond and Gladyce Lee as both family homes and as rentals prior to its sale to the city.
Back in 1922, Gates installed his own water system to service his estate by channeling the water of Fragrance Lake (then called Rice Lake) with a mud dam, overflow pipe with an embedded valve and a concrete reservoir further down the hillside. The lake level was raised, and Gates stocked the water with Eastern Brook trout which flourished in this environment. The lake and water system were vandalized in two separate incidents in the late 1920’s and early ’30’s; and finally the lake, now known as Fragrance Lake, was donated to Larrabee State Park.
| ||During the Gates residency on the estate, he opened the portion at Inspiration Point for public enjoyment. He installed lights and benches that opened onto the landscape with views of Chuckanut Bay and beyond. Remnants of these amenities can still be seen. || |
During the Gates residency on the estate, he opened the portion at Inspiration Point for public enjoyment. He installed lights and benches that opened onto the landscape with views of Chuckanut Bay and beyond. Remnants of these amenities can still be seen.
Cyrus Gates died at Woodstock Farm on January 13, 1927, after a paralytic stroke. During his lifetime, Gates was associated with land donations for Arroyo Park, Fairhaven Park, Larrabee State Park, the construction of Chuckanut Drive, and the loan of funds to the city for the purchase of property for Sehome Arboretum. It is only fitting that his beloved Woodstock Farm is now incorporated into the city’s inventory of parklands.
| ||The development of Woodstock Farm is an ongoing project of the Bellingham Parks Department and the Woodstock Farm Conservancy. The conservancy’s mission is to "protect and recall the heritage and character of Woodstock Farm and Inspiration Point; foster compatible community use with environmentally sustainable activities; promote community awareness, support, and stewardship of Woodstock Farm Park and related sites and landscapes”. |
Current access is limited to walkers, runners and bicyclists with minimal auto access, mainly for scheduled events and work parties.