The Montague & McHugh building was constructed in 1927, during an era of national
prosperity and a local upward economic trend. Soon after, however, the Great
Depression struck and the building was forced to close. The history of the
Montague & McHugh building has closely reflected Bellingham's overall land
use pattern of original use, vacancy and adaptive reuse.
The partnership of Montague & McHugh began in 1890 with their first store
located in the former town of New Whatcom. Their new five-story department
store located in downtown Bellingham included retail facilities a tearoom
and a ballroom, the latter two were open for public use. The spectacular
ballroom was one of six in the United States that included a Zenithern
floor, considered the finest type for dancing. The architect for this
metropolitan centerpiece was John Graham Sr. who, in addition to being Ford
Motor Company's designated architect, designed many buildings in Seattle and
in countries around the world. Several other structures Graham designed are
on the National Register of Historic places.
The Montague & McHugh Building is in the Neoclassical Commercial style,
discernable from the curious fenestration pattern carried out on three
elevations. Originally, a marquee and an arched entryway distinguished the
outside of this structure's two-story base. Elaborate spiral columns support
the pediments and the window frames that still remain are made of wood.
While the exterior is presently similar to when the building opened the
marvelous interior lasted little more than a decade. During WWII the inside
of the structure was completely gutted, ballroom and all, and used as a bomb
casing factory for the Boeing Company. Since 1991 the Montague & McHugh
building has been used for office space by Crown Plaza. In 1993 the Crown
Plaza Corporation was approved for local historic designation after
carefully undergoing costly rehabilitation measures earlier that year. The
Montague & McHugh building is uniquely connected with Bellingham's past and
will continue to be a distinctive visual feature into the city's future.
For more information see the
Montague & McHugh National Register of Historic Places Nomination.