Historical Restoration (Washington)

Fairhaven Library

Location: Bellingham
Contractor: Northern Marine
Architects: Fletcher Farr Ayotte (architect of record); RMC Architects (supervising architect)
Team: Evergreen Building Products, Amico, Dryvit Systems, Quikrete, Structa Wire

Photo by Jim Krause
Fairhaven Library’s original stucco finish lasted more than 100 years.

Fairhaven Library was formally dedicated in December of 1904. The exterior of the structure was originally clad in red brick, sandstone trim elements, cedar roofing and galvanized iron cresting. Shortly after dedication, it was discovered that the type of brick used for the exterior was not correct and concerns arose that water infiltration would be probable.

With the exception of the east facade, the entire brick exterior was coated with traditional three-coat stucco to address those concerns. To maintain the sandstone theme, the stucco was stuck with joints to give the appearance of large sandstone block.

Although minor repairs to the stucco cladding were performed over the years, Fairhaven stood as a testament to the performance of traditional stucco.

In 2006, the city of Bellingham contracted with BOLA Architecture + Planning to assess the building’s structure. It was determined that the stucco cladding should be replaced, along with significant repairs to the interior.

The re-clad was designed to emulate the library’s original architecture, which is classified as a Northwest interpretation of the mission-revival style, with stepped gable parapets, a semi-circular arched entry and exposed rafter tail detailing.

Northern Marine transformed the aged cladding to duplicate the original finish. To protect the building envelope, Dryvit Backstop weather-resistive barrier was applied, followed by a traditional three-coat stucco. To replicate the original block appearance, Northern Marine snapped chalk lines to the stucco surface, in a block pattern, and struck the joints with a specially constructed tool to create the appearance of mortar joints.

Judge’s comment: “The restoration of the Fairhaven Library, to its original stateliness, is a magnificent example of what can be accomplished with skilled craftsman and a company such as Northern Marine that understands the time-honored traditions involved in the original construction and, through their skill, replicate, with modern products, the historical features of the original structure.”

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