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Whatcom County

Whatcom County is named for Chief Whatcom of the Nooksack Native American tribe and the word means “noisy water”.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – British Columbia, Canada

E – Okanogan County

S – Skagit County

W – San Juan County and British Columbia, Canada


Created:  March 9, 1854                         Map of Washington highlighting Whatcom County

County Seat: 

Bellingham  1854 – present


County Courthouse – Bellingham 


Location:  311 Grand Avenue / Lottie Street

Built:  1992 – 1993

Style:  Modern

Architect: Galen W Bentley of Bellingham

Contractor:  Chisholm & Eiford


Description:  The building  faces north and is a seven story red colored brick, concrete and glass structure. The rectangular shaoed building is located in the center of Bellingham. The building has a circular entrance section on the northeast corner with columns supporting a circular header with round glass section on top. The main building is red colored brick with buff colored brick trim. In the interior, the first story has a high hallway running north-south. The County Superior Court is located on the third story and has four courtrooms at the center. The County District Court is located on the fourth story and has four courtrooms located at the center. The building houses the County Superior Court, County Superior Court – Juvenile and the County District Court. An addition was added to the building in 1972. From 1992 to 1993, the building was enlarged and renovated. The architect was KMD Architects & Planners and the contractor was Strand Hunt Construction.


Note:  In 1945, F Stanly Piper and John W Maloney were selected as architects for the sixth courthouse. In 1947 after legal action, the architects were requested to revise the plans and they failed to do so. Subsequently, in 1948, Galen W Bentley of Bellingham was retained as architect for the sixth courthouse and Chisholm & Eiford were hired as general contractor, F M Haskell Plumbing & Heating Company as mechanical and Hindman’s Home Electric Company as electrical. The old courthouse constructed in  1889 to 1890 on Ellsworth Street was torn down in 1950 and the site is now a park.


Old Territorial Courthouse – Bellingham 



Location:  1308 East E Street / West Holly Street

Built:  1858

Style:  Federal

Architect:  James Alexander

Contractor:  James Alexander


Description:  The building  faces northwest and is a two story red colored brick structure. The building is located on the west side of the center of Bellingham to the west of the courthouse. The northwest front has an arched entrance on the second story along the east section. A white colored section rises above the roof. A pitched gable roof was also framed in timber over the original flat roof. The building was built as a two story structure and served as courthouse from 1863 to 1888.


Note:  The building was the first brick courthouse built in the Washington Territory and is named as the T G Richards building. In 1906 the hill was filled in and graded which raised the ground level to the second story level.


History:  The county was created in 1854 and Bellingham was selected as the county seat. The first and second courthouses were log structures. In 1863, the third courthouse was a two story red colored brick structure built at a cost of $8,000 and which is still standing. The fourth courthouse was the Purdy Opera House designed and built by M C Latta in 1884 to 1885. The fifth courthouse was designed by W A Ritchie and built in 1889 to 1890. The sixth and present courthouse was constructed in 1948 to 1950.



County Courthouse – Bellingham















County Superior Court courtroom











County District Court courtroom







Picture 1889 County Courthouse – Bellingham



Picture 1950 County Courthouse – Bellongham



Old Territorial Courthouse











Photos taken 2006, 2009, 2012, 2016 and 2022