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!



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

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.

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.

Territorial Courthouse Gets Spruced Up

Things are starting to really happen at the old Whatcom Territorial Courthouse on E Street.  After years of work on the outside, the ditching and  brickwork are done and lower level open for the public to see the original placement of the building on what was the beach in Old Whatcom.

Floors and Plumbing

On the upper level, where court was once held, the old maple floor was removed.  It took four volunteers, including Rick Tremaine, Glenn Eastwood and Rick Kiene, about 6 hours to take up all the flooring and expose the fir boards beneath.  The excess was hauled away a few days later. The downstairs floor was fired up from the cement to allow for the fir flooring to be layed.

Upstairs and downstairs, the walls have been framed. New plumbing and lighting will provide an atmosphere of comfort the building hasn’t seen in years.  The building is now nearly 152 years old, the oldest brick building in the state. Its restoration is an important effort to promote our area’s history and preserve a special time in it.


On the outside, plans are for a brick pathway on the Holly Street side of the building 60 feet long by 4 feet wide. Interested people can purchase a brick for $50.00 from the Whatcom Historical Society. All monies go for the restoration.

Tune in for more updates on the building’s progress.