The oldest surviving commercial structure on the south side of Bellingham is Fairhaven’s Terminal Building built in 1888. One source claims it was named after the town’s desire to become the end stop of the Great Northern Railroad and another says it was named by the owner in 1930 as a reference to where two electric street passenger railways intersected. The two-story wood frame building was erected in 1888, and the following year the south and west sides of the building were covered with bricks that came to the town in ships from the Orient.
When Fairhaven was not selected as the Great Northern Railroad’s terminus hard times followed. Despite the fluctuation in Fairhaven’s economic condition, the Terminal Building has almost always been occupied. The original building design intended the first floor to be used for two commercial spaces and the second floor for living quarters. During Fairhaven’s heyday the 1101 commercial space was occupied by the Sideboard Saloon and barbershop, owned by Dennis Butler. Next door to them, in 1103, was a cigar store combined with a billiard parlor.
The Sideboard Saloon lasted until 1914 and was then replaced by a grocery store owned by William Hapner. Once a real estate office, the small office to the rear of 1101 was also the headquarters for a proposed electric railway connecting Whatcom and Skagit Counties that was never created.
The Terminal Building has been restored very closely to its 1889 appearance. The first floor of the building’s Harris Avenue facade is wood painted gray with red trim, the second floor facade is brick. A new foundation was constructed in 1973 to stop a visible sag in the second floor windows caused by settling. At that time the brick facing was also cleaned, the broken windows were re-glazed and the cornice was painted. Tony’s Coffee’s and Tea Inc has inhabited the Terminal Building, on the State Historic Registry, since 1971 regularly investing in its maintenance.
For more information see the Terminal Building National Register of Historic Places Nomination.