Alfred L. Black was the last mayor of Fairhaven prior to the town’s 1903 consolidation with Bellingham. Black, best remembered for his inexhaustible efforts in behalf of the unification campaign, became the first mayor of Bellingham after the new city’s first election.
Local architect Alfred Lee designed this large house built on Forest Street. The exterior of the first floor is constructed of gray Chuckanut sandstone while the upper one and a half floors are wood. The main entrance frame, also done in Chuckanut sandstone, is turned sideways from the street and resembles a classic medieval castle gate. A three story octagonal turret is located at the southwest corner of the Black house, the protruding wing from the west wall was originally a ballroom. A wide porch, commanding a sweeping view of Bellingham Bay wraps around the west and south sides of the first floor.
A library, parlor, reception hall, kitchen and ballroom were all on the first floor. The second floor has seven bedrooms and the top floor has two bedrooms and a billiards room. The interior is decorated with beautiful woodwork and light fixtures, along with stained glass windows on the north and east walls. It is believed that Mrs. Black had an aversion to fireplaces, which is why there is only two in the entire house; one in the library, and the other in the ballroom.
In 1917, J.B. Wahl, founder of Wahl’s Department Store, acquired the house. The house remained in the Wahl family until 1957 when it was sold to the Sisters of St. Joseph for use as a residence. The sisters made a few minor interior changes, including adding more upper floor bathroom facilities and converting the ballroom to a chapel. Since 1963 the Alfred L. Black house has been used as private residence.
For more information see the Alfred L. Black House National Register of Historic Places Nomination.