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Ready for more selfies? Another celebrity to get a bench in Fairhaven district

Did you know? Here are 10 historical facts about Fairhaven

Explore the historic Fairhaven district of Bellingham, Washington.
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Explore the historic Fairhaven district of Bellingham, Washington.

It's possible he wasn't too impressed in his tour of the area, but one of Fairhaven's most famous visitors is about to get his own bench in front of Village Books.

A bronze sculpture of Mark Twain seated on a bench reading a book will be unveiled at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 26 at 1200 11th St. He'll join a couple of other Fairhaven characters — "Dirty" Dan Harris and community leader J.J. Donovan — that have their own benches in the district.

Several people are scheduled to speak at the ceremony on Saturday, including local history writer Brian Griffin. He noted that Twain came to visit Fairhaven in 1895 as part of a world fundraising lecture tour to recoup money after a series of bad investments.

Local leaders at the time were hoping Twain would be impressed with the community, but Fairhaven was having its own challenges. It was in the midst of an difficult economic downturn and during Twain's visit smoke from a series of nearby forest fires obscured any views of the area.

Nevertheless Twain stuck around, speaking at the Lighthouse Theatre in New Whatcom (downtown Bellingham). He reportedly hung out at the Cascade Club in what is now the Sycamore Square Building in Fairhaven, ordering hot toddies with a generous shot of whiskey to ease his scratchy throat, according to historylink.org.

Other scheduled speakers at the event include Village Books co-owner Kelly Evert, who will talk about Twain's contribution to literature; Bellingham City Council member Gene Knutson; Michael Botwin, who donated the bench, and sculptor Gary Lee Price.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz
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