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What’s the Deal With: The former Fairhaven Pharmacy?

History lesson unveils surgeries, a basement museum

The Fairhaven Pharmacy was one of the oldest businesses in Bellingham
The Fairhaven Pharmacy was one of the oldest businesses in Bellingham (Photo courtesy of the Gordon Tweit Collection)
By Audra Anderson Assistant Editor

If you’ve ever been caught on a long waitlist to eat at the Black Cat, located on the third floor of 1204 Harris Ave. in Fairhaven, there’s a good chance you meandered the hallways and saw a nugget of history on the wall: a framed photo from 1902 titled, “Inside the Fairhaven Pharmacy.” 

The business, which operated from 1889 to 2015, was one of the oldest in Bellingham and had several locations, including the Harris Avenue building that is now home to 12th Street Shoes, and a myriad of restaurants and other small businesses.

Minor surgeries were supposedly performed in the back room, according to a plaque beneath the photo. The pharmacy moved across the street to 1115 Harris Ave. in 1929, to its most recognizable facade, and where it closed its doors. 

photo  Current & Furbish moved into the former Fairhaven Pharmacy location. Previous pharmacy owner Gordon Tweit opened a museum in the basement of the building, inviting the public to view antique pharmaceutical items and other memorabilia each Friday. (Audra Anderson/Cascadia Daily News)  

One of the most renowned owners, Gordon Tweit, began as a delivery boy for the pharmacy when he was 14 years old. He took ownership of the business in 1962 and is known for starting a small museum in the basement of the business. The collection of antique pharmaceutical equipment and other historical memorabilia was open for the public’s viewing each Friday. 

When the pharmacy closed, much of the collection was transferred to Whatcom Museum, said Maria Coltharp, curator of collections. 

“We’re excited to have it, and working on cataloging it,” Coltharp said. 

photo  A painting of the late owner of the former Fairhaven Pharmacy, Gordon Tweit, was added to the Fairhaven Village Green mural in 2013. It depicts the pharmacy owner, who was an avid photographer, with a camera strapped around his neck. Tweit had an extensive collection of photography, which was donated to Whatcom Museum. He died in 2018. (Audra Anderson/Cascadia Daily News)  

WTD runs on Wednesdays. Have a suggestion for a “What’s the Deal With?” inquiry? Email us at newstips@cascadiadaily.com. 

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