gold rush brick


I decided not to wait until the Thursday and the Door Challenge to post this particular door (without stairs) that I referenced in a comment earlier today. This is on the side of a building that is 159 years old. The chain link fence is a bit more younger than that. It has taken me awhile to get a halfway-decent shot in part because I have to hold the camera over my head to get pass another chain link fence. I happened to be walking by it today, so here it is. Below is for any history buffs:

During the height of the Fraser River gold rush in the summer of 1858 the firm of T.G. Richards designed this brick structure as a combination general store, bank and warehouse. This was not only the first brick building in Bellingham or Washington State, but the first one north of San Francisco. The brick was constructed in Philadelphia and shipped from San Francisco along with the iron and glass on the same ship bringing miners to the gold fields. The final cost of construction was $8,000.

After it was sold to Whatcom Country, the county used the building as a courthouse until 1884 when a new one was constructed. In the early 1880’s the courthouse was seriously overcrowded. Frequently, prisoners had to be sent to Seattle because the jail facilities lacked room. The courthouse was declared unfit for use in 1885 and until other facilities were available the U.S. district court had to use the opera house.

The building in the foreground of the photo. My
photo is of the side wall that can’t be seen.

Aside from replacing the original flat roof with a gabled one and adding a more ornate gabled false front, the actual structure has seen little change in its simple pioneer style. However, due to the creation of E Street that required filling in a section of Bellingham Bay the apparent height of the building has changed. The second story is now at street level, which required enlarging a second story window into a front door, and the buried first floor has become the basement.

After Whatcom County abandoned the building, a number of other tenants have put it to use. The Courthouse passed into private hands in 1903, in 1906 the county deeded it to the local Grand Army of the Republic chapter. In 1926 it was acquired by the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, in 1947 by the Security Benefit Association, and in 1950 by a Bellingham church group. Following a taxidermy shop and Base Camp outdoor equipment firm, and was later occupied by Limited Editions Woodwork Custom Furniture.

gold rush brick