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They’re empty and boarded up. What’s going on with 2 houses on Billy Frank Jr. St.?

The Bellingham Herald file

PeaceHealth could decide in the coming months what to do with two boarded-up houses it owns on Billy Frank Jr. St. near its South Campus.

The rundown houses are at the corner of East Chestnut Street in the Sehome Neighborhood. One has graffiti marring its exterior.

One house, a five-bedroom at 1200 Billy Frank Jr. Street, was built in 1902. It has an appraised value of $299,916, according to the Whatcom County Assessor’s website.

The other, a two-bedroom at 1204 Billy Frank Jr. Street, was built in 1906. It has an appraised value of $287,452.

PeaceHealth has owned both properties since 1989.

The state of the properties has been a concern for some.

The Sehome Neighborhood Association’s board discussed those houses with PeaceHealth about two or three years ago, according to member Charles Dyer.

“We pretty much got nothing in response,” he said.

There were squatters in them, Dyer said

“So now they are boarded up,” he added.

PeaceHealth spokeswoman Beverly Mayhew said she could appreciate the concerns over how the properties look.

“It’s never ideal to have houses sit empty for long,” Mayhew said. “We are in the process of reviewing several options for those houses and hope to be in a position to make a decision within the next few months.”

The two residences, and the people who lived in them long ago, are part of the city’s history.

“Those are a couple of really nice houses,” said Jeff Jewell, a researcher at Whatcom Museum.

The one at 1200 Billy Frank Jr. St. was the Charles and Anna Stoddard House. Charles ran a plumbing business at 1211 Railroad Ave., close to where Man Pies is now, Jewell said. Their daughter Elsie taught at the original Larrabee School on 20th, between Larrabee and Donovan avenues. She lived at home until 1919, when she married Howard Handbloom.

Charles’ parents lived up the street, as did his brother Millard “Milton” Stoddard, a Bellingham firefighter at the department’s Fire Hall No. 3, at what was then Indian and Maple streets.

The residence at 1204 was known as the Henry and Belle Buzzard House, according to Jewell. Henry was a blacksmith and worked with Allen Strathie. Their smithy, Strathie & Buzzard, was in the 1100 block of Dock Street, now Cornwall Avenue.

Henry was the the grandfather of the late Terry Buzzard, who grew up on Lake Whatcom and was a nautical and whale-watching cruise pioneer.

PeaceHealth plans

PeaceHealth owns two other houses on Billy Frank Jr. St., and has since 1989.

The other property at 1212 Billy Frank Jr. St. has an appraised value of $694,218. There are two houses on the property, built in 1904 and 1910. Both are being used.

PeaceHealth donates the use of the two houses to nonprofits and pays for the utilities, Mayhew said.

Decisions about what will be done with those two houses will be made in conjunction with the boarded-up residences.

All four houses were obtained as part PeaceHealth’s acquisition of St. Luke’s in the late 1980s.

What to do with the houses isn’t the only decision the health care provider will be making. There’s the larger question of what to do with its South Campus.

In 2013, PeaceHealth said it would in the coming years close its outdated South Campus and demolish the building at 809 E. Chestnut St., the old St. Luke’s General Hospital before it was bought in a deal that closed in 1989.

The old hospital was built in 1927 and renovated or expanded over the years, including in 1957, 1967 and into the 1990s.

The health care provider has been moving its services from the campus in recent years.

“A larger discussion and decision about our South Campus property will be made in cooperation with the neighbors and the city – likely in the 2018-2019 time frame,” Mayhew said. “We look forward to collaborating with the neighbors and the city to help determine the property’s next useful life.”

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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