Charles X. Larrabee was a man of tremendous wealth and power in Bellingham, controlling mining, railroads, ranching and real estate enterprises. In addition to founding the Citizen’s Bank, in 1888, he started the Fairhaven Land Company with Nelson Bennett. In 1914, Larrabee hired the distinguished Seattle architect Carl Gould, who also designed the main library for the University of Washington, design his twenty-five room mansion in the Edgemoor district of Bellingham. Unfortunately, Larrabee died that year on September 16 before construction even started but his wife Frances insured that it was built as he had intended.
The two and one-half story Larrabee home, also known as Lairmont Manor, is clay tile faced with stucco and trimmed in brick and terra cotta. The hipped roof is truncated, almost mansard, and mostly hidden by a three-foot high brick parapet above the second floor. The formal entrance is on the north side of the house, under the carriage park port-cochere.
Both the exterior and the interior of the Larrabee house show a European influence. In fact, much of the work on the house was crafted in Europe and then brought over. The finished woodwork was shipped to the site from Italy; the impressive glass doors and ironwork were imported from Belgium, and European artist’s hand-painted portions of the wood wainscoting. The Larrabee house also includes innovative features such as a telephone intercom system, and a central vacuum pump with outlets in each room. Underground in the yard are a sprinkler system and a gasoline tank and pumps. In 1996 an 800 square foot pavilion was added to the back yard to better facilitate out door gatherings.
Mrs. Larrabee lived in Lairmont Manor until her death in 1941. After that the Sisters of St. Joseph acquired it for use as a novitiate until 1961, at which point it went back to private residence. Today, Lairmont Manor is in a non-profit trusteeship and is used for a variety of gatherings such as concerts, reunions and weddings. Since 1974 over 2,000 couples have been married in Lairmont Manor. The profits from these special events go toward preserving the Manor or other community purposes.