Donations sought for bronze sculpture of J.J. Donovan in Fairhaven


BELLINGHAM - A campaign is underway to raise $55,000 to install a bronze statue of prominent early businessman J.J. Donovan, possibly at the intersection of 11th Street and Harris Avenue in Fairhaven.

John Joseph Donovan is the focus of a new history exhibit at Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall building. An engineer, he came to Fairhaven in 1888. Donovan soon became involved in numerous major business ventures, including railroads, land development, Blue Canyon coal mine and Bloedel-Donovan Lumber Mills.

A civic benefactor, he also was a major supporter of St. Joseph hospital and of Assumption Church. He died in 1937.

The proposed statue has Donovan seated on a bench writing a letter to his fiancée, Clara.

The history exhibit, "Treasures from the Trunk," relies heavily on letters, diaries, photographs and other family and business papers recently donated to local archives by Donovan family members. Included are some of the near-daily letters between Donovan and his bride-to-be.

Blaine sculptor Robert McDermott has begun preliminary work on the project. His other local installations include the Dirty Dan Harris sculpture in Fairhaven, the "Vigil" sculpture in Blaine showing two women and a boy awaiting the fishing fleet's return, and a monumental bust of businessman Charles X. Larrabee in Fairhaven.

People who donate $100 or more to the Donovan project can have an inscription engraved on one of the pavers at Fairhaven Village Green.

Brochures with donation information are available at Whatcom Community Foundation, 119 Grand Ave., Suite A, at the museum's Lightcatcher and Old City Hall buildings, and at Village Books in Fairhaven.

People also can donate online by credit card at For details, call the foundation, 360-671-6463.


"Treasures from the Trunk: The Story of J.J. Donovan," an ongoing history exhibit, is showing at Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall building, 121 Prospect St.

General visitor hours at Old City Hall are noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Admission, which includes access to the museum's Lightcatcher building, is $10 general; $8 for students, military and seniors; $4.50 for child 2 to 5; and free for children under 2.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-2291 or

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