An interactive self-guided historical tour of Bellingham's Old Sehome downtown area is live on the City's website. The tour, which can be taken using a smartphone, hardcopy booklet or online, is the second self-guided tour the City of Bellingham's Planning and Community Development Department has developed to reconnect Bellingham residents with their city's vibrant historical past.
The 1.5-mile tour begins at the Pacific Building at 1057 N. State Street and ends at the Daylight Building at the corner of State and Chestnut streets. The tour materials feature a vast historic photograph collection that illustrate the striking changes and surprising similarities between late 1800s Bellingham and what it looks like today.
The Town of Sehome, which is now part of the downtown Bellingham area, was originally settled in 1853 around a coal mining venture and was one of four early towns that became the City of Bellingham in 1904. The name “Sehome” came from the mine superintendents' Clallam Indian father-in-law, named “S',yah-whom.”
In 1889 the coal company began selling off its real estate, Sehome Hill was logged, a town site was cleared, and the new cross streets of Holly, Magnolia, Chestnut, Maple, Laurel, and Rose Streets were cut through the forest. Over time, many early wood frame buildings were replaced by large commercial buildings built of brick and stone, and “Elk” Street was renamed “State” Street, which remains today.
The City hopes that these interactive tours will encourage Bellingham residents to walk and discover the many shops, restaurants, music venues and activities downtown has to offer. Hardcopy booklets of the tour are available at the Whatcom Museum Store, the Whatcom Museum Photo Archives, the Bellingham Public Library, and the Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism Visitor Centers on Potter Street and Commercial Street. The online version of the tour, which is optimized for use via smartphone or desktop, can be accessed at www.cob.org/historytours.
The Old Sehome Historic Walking Tour was funded in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, administered by the State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the City of Bellingham.