The area we know today as Bellingham was first inhabited seasonally by Coast Salish Tribes for 3,000 years.Members of the Lummi tribe arranged for a saw mill and settlement of white immigrants in 1582 near the mouth of Whatcom Creek in the present day Old Town district. Bellingham was originally comprised of four smaller towns with separate business districts: Bellingham, Whatcom, Sehome, and Fairhaven. Due to rapid population growth, the towns consolidated into one on November 4, 1903 and formed what we know today as Bellingham. By the early 1900s, downtown acted as a main hub of the local economy. At this time, the culture in Bellingham began to shift from its rogue seaport mindset to the cultivation and promotion of families and neighborhoods.

Today, downtown continues to be a thriving business district, that remains the heart of the city. Learn more about downtown and Bellingham's history by visiting one of our museums or taking a tour of downtown.


Guided Historic Tours

Public and Private Tours: Salacious History with The Bureau of Historical Investigation

Self-Guided Historic Tours

Mobile App

Old Sehome Historic Tour 

Hard copies available for $5 at the Downtown Visitor Center, 1306 Commercial Street


Downtown Bellingham has been designated as a National Historic District, making it easier for commercial property owners and businesses to  access funds for restoration projects. A Historic Resource Survey and Inventory of 450 downtown properties was conducted in 2012, resulting in the following Report and Inventory of Surveyed Properties:

Historic Resource Survey Report 

Inventory of Surveyed Properties

Interested in getting funding for your historic property restoration project? Visit the City of Bellingham's website today.