The City of Bellingham was officially incorporated in 1903, however the roots are much deeper. Bellingham originally began as four small towns that grew into each other. If you look at an aerial map of the city this makes sense, as some of the one way streets run together at odd angles. Two of the original towns were Whatcom (founded in 1852) and Sehome founded in (1854). Some of the earliest historical buildings in Bellingham that are still standing were built in the late 1800’s. Let’s take a closer look at two renovated historical office buildings in Bellingham.
A few Historic Office Buildings in Bellingham
The Crown Plaza Building – 114 West Magnolia Street, Bellingham, WA
Built in 1927, the Crown Plaza Building was originally named the Montague & McHugh (Bon Marche) Building. Montague & McHugh wanted to develop a department store in the central business district, which they succeeded in doing, but they were forced to close its doors shortly after in the Great Depression. Today the building is primarily an office building with street level retail.
Timeline of Events for the Crown Plaza Building
A downtown historic building. Was once called Montague & McHugh, named after the founders.
Used as a famous and favorite bombing spot.
1890 – Birth of the idea of an apparel store.
1923 – Death of Montague.
1927 – The revised architecture of the building.
1929 – Open for the public with ballrooms, beauty parlors, tearoom and music, along with the departmental store.
1930 – The Great Depression.
1932 – The lost glory of fortune. The building was vacant.
1939 – Became the 114 Building; all the department’s stores converted into offices.
1939 – Boeing Aircraft Co.; bombing planes B-17s and B-29s were manufactured.
1957 – The Bon Marche, an exquisite mall opened.
1988 – The 114 Building was once again vacant, thanks to The Bon Marche moving to the new Bellis Fair Mall.
The late 1980s – Ambit of redemption; festivals and events. Purchase of 114 by Crown Plaza Corporation.
1999 – Remodeled with the architecture of John Graham; more elegant designs.
2000 – Restored glory.
The Gaston Bay Building – 2925 Roeder Ave, Bellingham, WA
The Gaston Bay Building was built in 1928, with the intended use as a furniture finishing warehouse. Later the building was converted to a warehouse for storing and processing vegetables and seafood. Rumor has it that the building may have been a brewery at one time as well. Up until the building was recently renovated the first floors was being used as a salmon smoking facility with the top office floors being unoccupied. This building would later be renovated into one of the landmark historical office buildings in Bellingham.
Within the last 15 years, the building underwent an impressive renovation and achieved a pending GOLD-LEED certification by the US Green Building Council for their use of recycled materials, energy efficiency, and low impact development strategies.
The Gaston Bay Building is a primary example of a historic office building in Bellingham that has been made modern with minimal impact on our environment. In commercial real estate it can be difficult to achieve such a feat.
Fact: Before the City of Bellingham was established, Spanish Explorers named Bellingham Bay Gaston Bay, but the British Explorers were first to create the original map and they named the body of water Bellingham Bay.