fter graduating from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in 1886, Roland Gamwell moved to Seattle and began
working with an insurance company. There he met Nelson Bennett who convinced
Gamwell to move north to Fairhaven in 1889. Bennett's connections allowed
Gamwell to take advantage of the Fairhaven real estate boom and quickly make
a small fortune.
A native of Boston, Gamwell was primarily responsible for getting Boston
architects Longstaff and Black to Fairhaven in 1890; they were commissioned
to design and construct his home, one of the most elegant homes on
Gamwell was very meticulous about the construction of his home, using only
the finest materials. The intricate interior took the builders nearly two
years to finish. A variety of hardwoods were used to panel the home's nine
spacious rooms and the plumbing, gas, heating, and electric facilities were
the most up to date technology. Gamwell wanted the house completed before
his wedding, but he became impatient and went back to Boston to get married.
Upon their return, the couple resided in the Fairhaven Hotel until the house
The Gamwell house is one of the finest illustrations of Victorian
architecture both on Bellingham Bay and the in the Pacific Northwest.
Beautiful stained glass windows adorn the three-story hand carved oak
stairway, created by Italian artisans from Seattle, making it the
centerpiece of the house. The Gamwell family occupied the house until 1956,
and has remained a private residence. While the windows appear to have been
recently restored, the front porch is currently in need of repair. The
intricate woodwork trimming the exterior is still well defined.
For more information see the
Roland G. Gamwell House National Register of Historic Places Nomination.