Business

Lynden celebrates longtime resident, but also a revived downtown district

Where a windmill turns as a reminder of Dutch heritage

Lynden, the second largest city in Whatcom County, Wash., was established in 1874 and is known for its Dutch heritage. It’s home to the Waples Mercantile Building, The Inn at Lynden and the Dutch Village Mall with its rotatiing windmill.
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Lynden, the second largest city in Whatcom County, Wash., was established in 1874 and is known for its Dutch heritage. It’s home to the Waples Mercantile Building, The Inn at Lynden and the Dutch Village Mall with its rotatiing windmill.

Lynden is honoring a longtime resident, but perhaps it is also a celebration of how a key part of downtown has bounced back.

Sunday, May 5, is the fourth annual Billy Waples Day in Lynden. Along with owning a lumber mill, Waples was known for offering free chowder feeds and providing scrip for people who needed financial help during the Great Depression, said Matt Treat, one of the people involved in redeveloping a downtown Lynden building that now bears Waples’ name.

To pay tribute to Waples, festivities will include free chowder and bread from Avenue Bread, Billy Bucks scrip, tours, a beer garden and live music. There’s also a Passport to Prizes giveaway. The event runs from noon to 5 p.m.

This is also the fourth year since the reopening of the Waples Mercantile Building, which is home to the 35-room Inn at Lynden at 444 Front St. A fire in June 2008 gutted the building, known then as Delft Square.

It was originally built in 1909 and served a variety of businesses over the years, including the Lynden Department Store. Along with the inn, the refurbished building is now home to several businesses, including Village Books, Cheeks Jeans, Bellingham Baby Company, Overflow Taps and Avenue Bread.

The Inn has done well, growing 20 percent a year in revenue since opening in December 2015, said Teri Treat, one of the operators. About half the customers at the inn were business travelers when it first opened, but Treat said the leisure traveler market has grown faster in recent years. Along with many family events, the inn sees many visitors in Lynden attending sporting events, particularly equestrian, skiing and golfing.

Treat has also been impressed with the rebound downtown Lynden around the Waples building has experienced in recent years. Previously the discussion among merchants was about empty spots; now the discussion is about not having enough parking.

“The vibrancy here is amazing,” Teri Treat said in a phone interview. “We are just so happy about how this has turned out. We love historic buildings, and this one was worth doing.”

For further details about Billy Waples Day, visit the Lynden Chamber of Commerce website.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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