News Columns & Blogs

Fairhaven sculpture, Whatcom crime book in the offing for fans of Northwest history

Historian and author Brian Griffin unfolds an issue of The Bellingham Herald from Jan. 10, 1939, which tells of J.J. Donovan's death, Monday, June 25, 2012, in Bellingham. Griffin received two boxes of Donovan's private papers from a relative of the prominent businessman and expects to receive three more. "(Donovan is) arguably the most important man in Bellingham history," Griffin said.
Historian and author Brian Griffin unfolds an issue of The Bellingham Herald from Jan. 10, 1939, which tells of J.J. Donovan's death, Monday, June 25, 2012, in Bellingham. Griffin received two boxes of Donovan's private papers from a relative of the prominent businessman and expects to receive three more. "(Donovan is) arguably the most important man in Bellingham history," Griffin said. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

This is a great time of the year, with the start of school, early autumn leaves and, usually, wonderful weather. It's also a good time for history events.

New Fairhaven sculpture: A bronze sculpture of prominent early businessman J.J. Donovan will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at 11th Street and Harris Avenue.

Brian Griffin and the Fairhaven Village Green Committee are the driving forces behind the sculpture. Griffin has secured a trove of documents, letters and other Donovan artifacts, and is writing a biography of Donovan. He also recently curated a Whatcom Museum exhibit about the fellow.

A civil engineer, John Joseph Donovan came to Fairhaven in 1888 and soon became involved in numerous business ventures, including railroads, Blue Canyon coal mine and Bloedel-Donovan Lumber Mills. A civic benefactor, he was a major supporter of St. Joseph hospital and Assumption Church.

Blaine sculptor Robert McDermott created the Donovan figure. McDermott's other local sculptures include Dirty Dan Harris in Fairhaven and the fishing fleet "Vigil" figures in Blaine.

Before the dedication, Bellingham High Alumni Band members will play Dixieland music. Several guest speakers and members of the Donovan family plan to attend the ceremony, which Griffin promises will end well before the Seahawks game starts against the San Diego Chargers.

Also, Rocket Donuts will provide a treat to the first 100 people in their door after the dedication.

Sedro-Woolley celebration: I recently wrote about a new book, "The Wages of Sin," which details the 1914 bank robbery in Sedro-Woolley that led to a massive manhunt in Skagit and Whatcom counties and lower British Columbia. For years, the annual Sedro-Woolley Founders Days celebration has featured a re-enactment of the memorable crime. Alas, this year's event, on the centennial of the robbery, will mark the last re-enactment.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, Sedro-Woolley Museum, 725 Murdock St., will show a video of photographs about the crime from 10 to 11 a.m. Then, at noon, comes the final re-enactment.

"The Wages of Sin," which the museum published, will be on sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with author Rustan Robertson there to sign copies.

Other events are planned Sept. 13 and Sept. 14. For details, go to sedrowoolleymuseum.org.

Mayhem in Whatcom County: The seemingly indefatigable Todd Warger has a book coming out soon that might be a popular guilty pleasure for fans of local history. Mid- to late-October is the expected publication date for "Murder in the Fourth Corner: Death and Mayhem in Whatcom County," his collection of (appropriately) 13 tales of murder and other memorable crimes of old.

The earliest story, about the 1880 death of Michael Padden in Happy Valley, was contributed by Candace Wellman, The other stories, by Warger, range from 1905 to 1933 and take place in or near Bellingham, Blaine, Maple Falls, Whitehorn and Mount Baker.

One culprit, Frank Romandorf, the so-called Maple Falls monster, may have been the state's first serial killer, Warger says.

The book, from Village Books' Chuckanut Editions, will retail for $16.95.

Warger has curated exhibits at Whatcom Museum, co-written the photo-heavy book "Mount Baker," and helped create several history videos, more recently "The Mountain Runners," the award-winning documentary about the Mount Baker Marathon of the early 1900s.

Fundraising in Lynden: Lynden Pioneer Museum is seeking donations to raise $7,000 to beef up its planned exhibit about the Pacific Theatre in World War II. If enough donations come in, the museum hopes to create a jungle, a beach, and the bow of a Higgins amphibious boat. If more money arrives, the museum will add to its collection of WWII artifacts.

To donate, go to indiegogo.com/projects/the-war-in-the-pacific-wwii.

  Comments