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Fairhaven Historic District

About Fairhaven

Located south of Bellingham, Fairhaven Historic District is famous for its rich history and colorful architecture. Founded in the 1880s in Whatcom County, Fairhaven used to be a small settlement that would soon become the foundation for modern-day Bellingham.

The story of Fairhaven will take you back to 1889. At that time, workers from different corners of the United States and other counties would come here to open saloons, hotels, stores, and other businesses. Within just a year, the population of Fairhaven sprung from 150 to 8,000. It was thought that Fairhaven would become the westernmost point of the Great Northern Railway, however, Seattle was eventually chosen as the railroad’s western terminus.

Although Fairhaven did not succeed in becoming the terminus of the Great Northern Railway, the town grew rapidly. In October 1903, Fairhaven and three other towns (Bellingham, Sehome, and Whatcom) formed one city named Bellingham. After that momentous event, Fairhaven was developing as part of Bellingham and was since then commonly referred to as South Bellingham. Fairhaven was famous for salmon canning, with the Pacific American Fisheries headquartered here. Between the late 1880s and 1940s, Fairhaven employed over four thousand workers in the salmon canning activities, both American and non-American.

After World War II, Fairhaven’s fortunes went into decline and many buildings were abandoned. In the 1970s, Fairhaven Historic District saw active renovation, with historic buildings restored and refurbished to a certain extent. At that time, many university students and hippies arrived and settled in Fairhaven, and the town was sometimes even called “Hippie Mecca of the West”.

Fairhaven Nowadays

Today Fairhaven Historic District occupies three blocks (about 5 acres) and is dominated by brick commercial buildings built in late 19th and early 20th centuries. The once-thriving commercial center is now a popular tourist destination, with artsy stores, cozy bookstores, and restaurants serving nearly everything from seafood to burgers. In Fairhaven, everyone will find something to suit his or her taste: from whale watching cruises and kayaking tours to wine tasting and dinner cruises. And if you are up for a real adventure, be sure to climb up the peak of the majestic Mount Baker – lots of adrenaline (and unforgettable memories) guaranteed!