Charles X. Larrabee was a man of
tremendous wealth and power in Bellingham, controlling mining, railroads,
ranching and real estate enterprises. In addition to founding the Citizen's
Bank, in 1888, he started the Fairhaven Land Company with Nelson Bennett. In
1914, Larrabee hired the distinguished Seattle architect Carl Gould, who
also designed the main library for the University of Washington, design his
twenty-five room mansion in the Edgemoor district of Bellingham.
Unfortunately, Larrabee died that year on September 16 before construction
even started but his wife Frances insured that it was built as he had
The two and one-half story Larrabee home, also known as Lairmont Manor,
is clay tile faced with stucco and trimmed in brick and terra cotta. The
hipped roof is truncated, almost mansard, and mostly hidden by a three-foot
high brick parapet above the second floor. The formal entrance is on the
north side of the house, under the carriage park port-cochere.
Both the exterior and the interior of the Larrabee house show a European
influence. In fact, much of the work on the house was crafted in Europe and
then brought over. The finished woodwork was shipped to the site from Italy;
the impressive glass doors and ironwork were imported from Belgium, and
European artist's hand-painted portions of the wood wainscoting. The
Larrabee house also includes innovative features such as a telephone
intercom system, and a central vacuum pump with outlets in each room.
Underground in the yard are a sprinkler system and a gasoline tank and
pumps. In 1996 an 800 square foot pavilion was added to the back yard to
better facilitate out door gatherings.
Mrs. Larrabee lived in Lairmont Manor until her death in 1941. After that
the Sisters of St. Joseph acquired it for use as a novitiate until 1961, at
which point it went back to private residence. Today, Lairmont Manor is in a
non-profit trusteeship and is used for a variety of gatherings such as
concerts, reunions and weddings. Since 1974 over 2,000 couples have been
married in Lairmont Manor. The profits from these special events go toward
preserving the Manor or other community purposes.
For more information see the
Larrabee House (Lairmont Manor) National Register of Historic Places Nomination.