Robert Morse arrived on Bellingham Bay in 1884 and set up the Morse Hardware Company on what is presently State Street. The company’s steady growth necessitated the 1892 expansion of their facilities, and a booming Alaska trade during the 1890’s firmly established the company as the leading hardware firm north of Seattle.
Early in 1895, Robert Morse began building his new home on Garden Street two blocks uphill from his hardware store. Local architect Alfred Lee designed the Morse house in a classic example of the Queen Anne style of Victorian architecture that was popular in this period. The structure’s exterior has numerous architectural details of interest such as an octagonal turret, a steeply pitched roof, stained glass windows, significant decorative latticework, spindles and cutout trimwork. The foundation of the Morse house, and the stairway leading from the street to the house, consists of Chuckanut sandstone.
Originally, the plan for the first floor included two parlors with fireplaces, a dining room with a butler’s pantry, a kitchen and rear hall. The bedrooms were located on the second floor. In addition to the twelve original rooms and bath, the basement has five finished rooms.
A two-story glass enclosed sleeping porch was added to the south side of the house in 1914. Notable interior details include an elegantly carved maple staircase and extensive use of brass hardware on doors and cabinets. New wiring, plumbing and a central heating system have been added to modernize the interior.
The Morse house was used for apartments until 1985, in 1986 it was converted to its present use as the North Garden Inn Bed and Breakfast. The house has been maintained in excellent condition. For many years the exterior of the Morse house was painted a striking shade of charcoal gray, it is currently being painted a light blue.
For more information see the Robert I. Morse House National Register of Historic Places Nomination.