dward Eldridge, originally from
Scotland, came to Bellingham from San Francisco in 1853 along with another
of the city's founding fathers, Captain Henry Roeder. When Eldridge settled
in Bellingham the Federal Land Policy allotted 160-acre claims to each
person. The current 2.2-acre Eldridge Homesite on a bluff overlooking
Bellingham Bay is what remains from Edward Eldridge's, and his wife
Teresa's, 320-acre claim that made up much of north Bellingham.
The first enterprise of Edward Eldridge upon his arrival in Bellingham
was to open a lumber mill. The Eldridge mill would supply San Francisco with
much of the wood needed to rebuild the city after their great fire. Eldridge
soon quit the lumber industry and began teaching at Sehome School while
continuing his mining ventures. After exploring a career in mining Eldridge
became the first legislator ever elected from Whatcom County to the House of
Territorial legislature. Eldridge continued to be a distinguished political
figure in Bellingham until he died from Paresis in 1892 at the age of 63,
shortly after his return as a delegate to the National Republican
The first home of the Eldridge family burned down in 1878. Their second
home built in 1891, the Eldridge Mansion known as the finest home on Puget
Sound and featured in the archived photograph, also burned down from a
forest fire in 1894. After each fire the Eldridge family took up temporary
abode in one of the outbuildings on their property. In 1907 the milkman
discovered yet another fire, this time causing $7,000 in damages to the
garden home occupying the site, and struggled to wake up the owners Hugh
Eldridge and his wife and the hired help.
F. Stanley Piper, the same architect who designed the Bellingham National
Bank Building also on the Historic Registry, constructed the current
structure in 1926 for Bellingham's postmaster Hugh Eldridge. Inspired by
styles from the Normandy region of France, Piper and Hugh Eldridge selected
to design the mansion in the form known as French Chateauesque.
Embedded in the pavement of the driveway's entrance are the Chinook
Indian words "Nesika Illihe", meaning (welcome to) "Our Land", in 3" brass
letters. The long and gracious driveway leads to the front entrance and a
three-car garage beside the main house. The exterior was constructed of
concrete finished with stucco and fir was used to line the interior walls.
The Bellingham Herald featured a detailed description of the home when it
was first built, including the general floor plans. A living room, library,
dining room, bedroom, kitchen, breakfast room and three fireplaces are all
on the first floor. The second floor added three large bedrooms and a bath.
The Brown Brothers Paint Company completed all the painting and decorating
and the Columbia Valley Lumber Company supplied all the lumber and hardwood
Hugh Eldridge lived in the home until 1939. During WWII the Eldridge home
was occupied by the military for offices and living space. The present
owners of the Eldridge House, Mike and Cis Kennard also own the Bellingham
Beauty School. They have made minor modifications to update the homes'
interior, such as an exercise room in the basement. Through the Kennard's
admirable care and appreciation of the homes' significance the Eldridge home
has remained in good condition.
For more information see the
Edward Eldridge Homesite National Register of Historic Places Nomination.