Historic resources. Buildings 21-25

Return to [Historic Resources list] or [Historic Resource map]

21. Glencairn Apartments

222 N Commercial St.
Return to [Historic Resource map] or [Historic Resources list] or [N Commercial St]

22. Mt Baker Theater 

106 N. Commercial Street
Federal and Local Landmark status.
Entry from Bellingham City web site:

The Mount Baker Theatre was constructed in 1927 as part of the Fox West Coast Theatre chain of film and Vaudeville movie palaces. The same architect who created the Old Faithful lodge in Yellowstone National Park, R.C. Reamer, designed Mt. Baker theatre and four others (including the Fifth Avenue theatre in Seattle) in the Northwest region. After more than sixty years of continuous commercial operation and numerous ownership changes, the Mt. Baker Theatre has survived virtually unaltered.

The visually dominant feature of this strikingly bright building is the red tiled roof of the marquee tower that displays the theatre's name. The Theatre was one of the first reinforced concrete structures in the Pacific Northwest. Another probable first the Mt. Baker Theatre can claim is the nation's first installation of a Hope-Jones Wurlitzer organ in 1927, still in regular use before screenings. To better accommodate a wide variety of performances, the depth dimension of the original stage has been increased from 26 feet to 40; the width of the stage remains the same.

Before the Mt. Baker Theatre was placed on the National Historic list in 1978, the 1971 state legislature attempted to acquire it for Western Washington University located in Bellingham to ensure its protection. When plans were announced to split the auditorium in two in 1980, that would have ended all live performances, the public rallied to preserve this landmark. In 1983, a non-profit corporation, the Mount Baker Theatre Committee, formed and within a year purchased the theatre transferring the title to public ownership.

Since then the theatre has undergone a series of alterations to improve its vitality. It was awarded a Historic Community Theatre Development Grant in 1991 that allowed for safety repairs to the auditorium lights and restoration of the marquee and tower lighting; minor alterations also occurred in 1993 and 1995. The Mount Baker Theatre has been a characteristic trademark of the city of Bellingham since it was erected in 1927 and will continue to impress people as a National and Local landmark.

Return to [Historic Resource map] or [Historic Resources list] or [N Commercial St]

23. Thiel & Welter Warehouse          (Griggs Office Supplies)

115 Unity St.

View from rear with large Chuckanut Sandstone glacial erratic.  4/13/2009

View from Champion St. 4/17/2009
Return to [Historic Resource map] or [Historic Resources list] or [Unity St]

24. Oakland Block (1890)

310-318 West Holly St.
Federal Landmark status.
The building occupies the triangle created by the intersection of Holly, Prospect, and Champion streets.
Built by Dr. Ambrose Cornwall in 1890. It was used briefly as government offices in 1891 until City Hall was completed. The upper floor was used as the Oakland Hotel. (Turbeville, 1977, 63-64.)

View along W Holly St.  4/8/2009

View along W Champion St from corner with Prospect.  4/8/2009

View of building east of the Oakland Block from across Holly St. The Oakland block is on the left.  4/8/2009
Return to [Historic Resource map] or [Historic Resources list] or [W Holly St]

25. Flatiron Building  (1907-1908) B.B. Furniture Building

1311-1319 Bay Street     
The building occupies the triangle created by the intersection of Prospect, Bay, and W Champion streets.
Federal and Local Landmark status.
Entry from Bellingham City web site:

            While the Flatiron Building has been a Bellingham landmark for almost seventy years, it received Federal Landmark status in 1983 and, even more recently, Local status in 1994. Upon construction, it was one of the first reinforced concrete buildings in the city, and was also the tallest until 1926.
The triangular "flatiron" type of building was quite popular among American architects in the first decade of the twentieth century. Daniel Burnham"s 1902 Flatiron building in New York was the inspiration for many, including the one in Bellingham. The style was particularly fashionable in cities that have odd shaped blocks varying from the traditional grid system.

The Flatiron Building was erected for the Bellingham Bay Furniture Company; one of the city's oldest furniture firms established by T.S. Hamilton in 1889. During the early part of this century, the company was one of the largest and best known on Puget Sound. Previously, the Bellingham Bay Furniture Company had two locations; one of which was in the old Bellingham Hotel. After the Flatiron building was completed in 1908, the Bellingham Bay Furniture Company moved in, remaining there until 1978.

Precautions were taken to minimize the high fire risk that furniture manufacturing has. A system of internal water piping was installed, and each floor was equipped with fifty feet of fire hose. A special "fireproof" room was built for the varnish room, which is the most flammable part of the manufacturing process. The impressive blaze that severely damaged the Flatiron Building in 1924, forcing a vent through one of the elevator shafts to the roof, made these measures appear futile. Repairing the damage took several years, when the building re-opened in 1927 a water tank and an internal sprinkler system were added.

After the Bellingham Bay Furniture Company left the building it sat vacant until renovations were completed in 1990. The renovations left original glass panes along the north wall of the building and used them in re-lights along the west and east interior walls; allowing the flow of natural light to reach the entire floor. Afterwards, the Flatiron building received an Award of Outstanding Merit, recognizing the owner's accomplishments in maintaining the integrity of the original design.

The Flatiron building architecturally dominates its neighborhood due to its size and unique shape and is a distinct visual feature of the central business district. Accordingly, the present occupation of the Flatiron building by Veco Engineering has energized the entire neighborhood.

View from the corner of Prospect and Bay.  4/19/2009               Plaque by door.  4/19/2009

Views from Prospect St.  4/19/2009

Return to [Historic Resource map] or [Historic Resources list] or [Bay St] or go on to [Buildings 26-30]