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.


Traffic Jam on Bellingham Bay 1858

Talk: Thursday March 8

Time: 7:30

Where: Old City Hall

One of the Most Exciting of Times

The summer of 1858 on Bellingham Bay was one of the most exciting times as the population on the bay swelled to several thousand. The Frazer Gold Rush was on. Sometimes, rivals, the settlement of  Sehome was platted and sold lots at $200.00 a piece. Whatcom sought to get a dock out beyond its muddy flats.  Ships and steamers dropped miners off a couple of hundred at a time.  It was a wild time. The forests around the bay were so thick that “a cat barely had room to squeeze through.”

Maritime History on Bellingham Bay

Historian Janet Oakley has been researching the Ann Parry, the bark that brought the bricks for the T.G. Richards building (Whatcom Territorial Courthouse) for the past six years and has made some exciting discoveries from reading the Shipping Intelligence in the Daily Alta California, the leading newspaper in not only San Francisco, but the state. But nothing has been as exciting as the year of 1858 when our community was put on the map.

Come join us for the talk.

Ann Parry Arrives on the West Coast December 31, 1849

History has its way of getting lost and then found again. Part of the Save Our History project (Whatcom Territorial Courthouse Project 2006-2007) was to find out more about the bricks in the old brick building downtown Bellingham.  This led to the discovery of a long misspelled name of the bark that brought the bricks.  The “Ann Perry” was actually the ANN PARRY, a famous whaler and merchant ship out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire,  a shipbuilding center since Colonial Days.  After a long life across the seas to Liverpool, Zanzibar and Lahaina, Maui, she was sold in 1848 to investors in Salem MA and outfitted for the California Gold Rush.

A 150th Year Celebration

This December 31th will mark the 160th anniversary of her arrival in San Francisco.  After a voyage of  over 100+ (62 days from Valpariso to San Francisco alone), she anchored in San Francisco Bay, the last ship to arrive in the year 1849.  She  became a storeship for a few years under a new owner who was also from Salem.  A recent archival find shows her at last entering the coastal trade in December of 1857.  Her assignment was Bellingham Bay, possibly for the Bellignham Bay Coal Mine.


In 2008 , for the 150th anniversary of the Whatcom Territorial Courthouse, maritime artist Steve Mayo, painted a beautiful rendition of the ANN PARRY unloading the bricks. The original painting and prints are for sale. (See Whatcom Territorial Project tab for details). Buying a print will be a great way to celebrate the end of this year and projecting hope for 2010 as she did when she first arrived in San Francisco.  She is now a part of our local history.  Follow as it continues to unfold.

Old Town Days

Old town Days flyer 2009Miner Steve at 150thThe oldest brick building in the state of Washington is the T.G. Richards building, located in Bellingham and known locally as the Whatcom Territorial Courthouse. It was built in 1858 for the Fraser River Gold Rush in Canada.  Today, its history is being preserved by the Whatcom Historical Society.

On August 29th, E Street in downtown Bellingham will be closed to traffic and open from 11:00 to 4:30ish to historic displays and interpreters, 19th century music (Camp 2 players), Citizens of Whatcom 150thfurniture maker, and society books and preservation campaigns. The Whatcom Maritime Association and the Homeport Learning Centery along with their longboat Plume will present maritime activities. Families can pan for “gold” , do early store and writing activities and take history tours of Old  Town at noon and 2:00 with Richard Vanderway.

Also at noon, Garry Schalliol, Director, Outreach Services of Washington State Historical Society will talk about the capital grant the old courthouse has received to continue the restoration work on it. 

To help support the preservation of the courthouse, a painting and prints of Ann Parry (the bark that brought the bricks for the courthouse) by maritime artist Steve Mayo and bricks for the proposed walk way around the building will be on sale.

Quilt trunk at 150thThe Pickett House, another important historic site from the mid-1850s, will join in the historic festivities.

Come and join in the fun. It’s free!