Repurposing Downtown Bellingham
During the spring of 2016, students in the advanced visual journalism course at Western agreed to create multimedia projects along the themes of historic preservation and sustainability efforts in the City of Bellingham. To narrow the scope of this task, the 13 students zeroed in on Bellingham’s downtown core. The following place-based stories highlight how space has been used over time and how some spaces have been repurposed for our changing times.
Opportunities for Everyone
Walking by a homeless person on the street, how do you react? Do you feel guilt? Fear? Empathy? We might feel uncomfortable because we aren’t used to seeing vulnerability out in the open, says Kate Robertson of the Homeless Outreach Team, a street outreach team at the Whatcom Homeless Service Center.
Under a blue awning on the corner of State Street and Laurel Street sits Northwest Youth Services, a refuge for the homeless youth of downtown Bellingham. NWYS provides vocational training and housing programs for homeless youth up until the age of 24.
In recent years, downtown Bellingham has started the process of revitalization with the help of local businesses and organizations. Playing a vital role in this revitalization, Daylight Properties restores and manages historical buildings in the downtown area.
The Downtown Bellingham Partnership fosters a stronger sense of community by serving as the downtown neighborhood association, putting on events throughout the year and working to beautify the area.
The Herald Building Repurposed
The bright and open upper corner space of the Herald Building is now home to Argyle Salon. The friendly, welcoming and vibrate environment of Argyle, is matched by the creative and enthusiastic staff. Salon owner Clara Singer gives insight to the Argyle’s story as well as the space’s history.
The Cosmos Bistro is a modern and welcoming restaurant in the Herald Building in downtown Bellingham. This space in the Herald Building used to be a furrier according to the restaurant’s top chef Cinnamon Burg.
Downtown Buildings: Past and Present
In 1912 the Bellingham chapter of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks built the BPOE building on Cornwall Avenue. The Elks used the building as their meeting hall and club house for 67 years. It housed a number of businesses after the Elks relocated but currently sits empty. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Finding a hotel in downtown Bellingham in the early 1900s was fairly easy. However, that’s not the case today. Many of the buildings have been rehabilitated while some have been completely demolished. Take a look at how the buildings have changed over the years through these past and present photo comparisons. The historic photos are used with permission from the Whatcom Museum Photo Archives.
KMRE is a community radio station operating out of the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention in downtown Bellingham. In the 1920s and 1930s the building was the location of a women’s clothing store called the Home Store.
Fashion Trends: From Thrift Stores to Boutiques
Within downtown Bellingham, there are ten clothing shops. Each have a quirky owner and/or store manager, a story on where they get their products, and help create the downtown atmosphere it is today.
People of Bellingham
Shawn Cass is a local artist and DJ who spends his time spreading his art throughout the community. His purpose is to create a lively, and vibrant downtown using the medium of spray paint.