Spring Sale

We’re having a Garage Sale to benefit the Territorial Courthouse on Saturday April 6th, 2013 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.  Donate your gently used clothing, art, toys, books, and household items at our pre-sale drop off times this Saturday March 30th from 10am-1pm and April 4th and 5th from 4pm-7pm.  Bring an item to donate (or just donate!) and we’ll give you a quick tour of the restoration work.  See you there!


History Holiday

Annual History Holiday

Open Mike Sharing and Annual Membership Meeting1850 Christmas

Thursday, December 13, 2012, 7:30 p.m.

Whatcom Museum Rotunda Room • 121 Prospect St. • Free • All Welcome

Join us for a festive and informative evening of open mike sharing and holiday goodies! All are welcome (members and non-members alike) to sign up for a 5-minute slot during which you may share anything that relates to local or regional history – a personal story, research items, an artifact, or anything else that comes to mind. We will also be passing out forms to collect ideas for the upcoming trivia night at the Whatcom Museum and gather ideas for other Historical Society projects.

The line up so far

Already lined up for a spot at the mike is Janet Oakley, who will be sharing about “Two gals and a Guy at Gettysburg: Making history while painting picket fences.” In September, along with Edradine and Harald Hovde participated in the Friends of Gettysburg work-vacation. Oakley went to honor her great-grandfather who was a Union surgeon at the battle. Hovde went to bring the story of George E Pickett on Bellingham Bay to the national park there. Hard work and high times ensued.

Vaughn Sherman is also lined up. Sherman is the author of “Sea Travels: Memoirs of a Twentieth Century Master Mariner – The story of J. Holger Christensen as told to his nephew Vaughn Sherman.” Sea Travels tracks two generations of the Christensen family from Puget Sound’s pioneer days, to the Alaskan Gold Rush and onto the world’s open oceans. Their saga includes hard times and history ― taking President Truman salmon fishing on Puget Sound and La Blanca’s dynamite-fueled explosion on a Tacoma shore, one of the most dramatic Puget Sound maritime episodes to this day ― as well as the high jinx and heroism of rootless and restless men of the sea. 

Members who have a project they’d like to share,  sign up before the program. There’s still room.

We will also get a sneak preview of the Society’s newest books and members at $25 and above can pick up their copy of Journal Twelve, hot off the press. A very brief election of board members will precede the program. See you there!


The courthouse has been restored, but our most pressing need is a handicap lift to install and future interpretation.  You can help in several ways.

For the lift, a donation as small as $10.00 could help. If we got a  1000 people to donate, we could match the money to get the lift purchased and the final installation.  Before the lift, we can’t have public programming.  And we want you to see the beautiful insides and plans we have for educational tours and school workshops.

You can also:


First, by purchasing a print of the Ann Parry by well-known maritime artist Steve Mayo.  Based on research in local and national archives it details the Ann Parry unloading bricks.  Call Rick Tremaine to purchase at (360) 734- 7381


Purchase brick to be placed on a future walk way on the side of the building. Remember a family member or a time in history with a simple inscription. Bricks are $50.00.  The back is all ready for installation once we get the lift.

Great Big Garage Sale

Support the Whatcom County Historical Society & Come join us for our Annual Garage Sale

T.G. Richards & Co built a “brick house” for the Frazer River Gold Rush in 1858. We’re having a gold rush of sorts with great items for sale. All sales go to support the courthouse restoration and maintenance, in particular the purchase of a wheelchair lift in the back. Once that is installed, the building can be opened to the public on a regular basis.

Why should you care? This is the first and oldest brick building in the state of Washington. History was made here.


When: Saturday and Sunday Sept 29th & 30th

Where: 1308 E Street

Time: 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Old Town Days at the Whatcom Territorial Courthouse

We’re having a party!

Join the Whatcom County Historical Society’s 5 annual Old Town Days, celebrating the restoration of the old TG Richards building, also known as the Whatcom Territorial Courthouse.

For the last five years, we have held an open house at the Territorial Courthouse in August. This year, the Courthouse committee has decided to expand the event to become an annual celebration of the history of old town.

When, Where, What Etc.

When: Saturday, August 25th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: 1308 E Street, in front of the old courthouse for a street fair type celebration.

What: tours of the courthouse, the Pickett House, and walking tours of old towns historic sites, including the railroad station, Lottie Roth block and other buildings on the historic registry in old town.

Tours for the courthouse and walking tours are by donation ($5 suggested).

Food: Our food vendor will be the Sandwich Odyssey

Music: Pretty Little Feet at noon and another music.

Local artists, local authors, civil war re-enactors, and various other groups and displays are planned


10:00 a.m Courthouse Tour

10:00-Noon Music

10:30 a.m. Old Town Walking History Tour by Wes Gannaway

11:00 a.m. Courthouse Tour

12:00 noon Courthouse Tour

12:00-2:00 p.m. Music by Pretty Little Feet

1:00 p.m. Courthouse Tour

1:30 p.m. Old Town Walking History Tour by Wes Gannaway

2:00 p.m. Courthouse Tour

One More Thing…

Oldest Brick Building in Washington State is Restored

Well, almost. The insides are lovely and the brick, drainage, roof, and windows done. We can’t wait to open it for events and other public happenings. Only we need one more thing: A wheelchair lift. Such a lift is essential for being approved by the city of Bellingham and final permitting.

The picture below is similar to what we have in mind, a lift that a disabled guest could enter and be lowered down to the main floor. (The building is kind of quirky. Built on a beach in 1858, the street was raised to its second floor around WW I.) One of the things we can’t change as it is a nationally registered historic place, is easy handicap access to this floor, where court was held. But the downstairs is where the jail was located and courtroom lobby and the lift would go to there.

Foundation in Place

The foundation for the lift is in place.  The concrete was poured several months ago, but our funding has been short. In order to finish the project we need to raise a minimum of $10,000. Without the lift, we can’t go forward with plans for interpreting early Bellingham history upstairs or holding public events.  The future also includes school tours.  We are applying for grants, but that will take a while.

Why Should You Care?

Bellingham is fortunate to have two rare structures that date from the 1850s Washington Territorial days –the Pickett House and the T.G. Richards. The Richards building was built during the Fraser River Gold Rush (1858), introducing Bellingham Bay  and infant Whatcom County to the center of 19th century West Coast enterprise, San Francisco. Known only for the coal in Bellingham Bay Coal Mine, the gold rush brought thousands to the bay. Though it was short-lived and many miners left discouraged, others stayed to homestead. During this time, Captain George E. Pickett of Gettysburg fame and James W. Forsyth of Wounded Knee massacre, both were frequent visitors while stationed at Fort Bellingham. Pickett’s house was just up the hill.

The T.G. Richards building became a territorial courthouse in 1863, hearing probate and other civil cases until 1889. It was a GAR meeting place, housed a pharmacy and printing press as well as contain a treasure room and jail. During the 20th century, a church and Akers Taxidermy occupied the building.

How You Can Help

From now until our open house August 25th, we hope to reach our goal. We know times are tough, but a donation of $10.00 or more to our restoration fund can really benefit the project.  If 1000 people donate just that amount, we can reach our goal. To participate, send money to:

Attn: Rick Tremaine

Whatcom County Historical Society Restoration Fund

PO Box 2116

Bellingham, WA 98227

Make checks out to: Whatcom County Historical Society.

Thanks so much!! Be sure to join August 25th to celebrate.