Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood of central Bellingham, surrounded by early-20th century craftsman homes with inviting porches and manicured lawns, is a surprisingly stately house. The Roeder Home, built by Victor Roeder at a cost of $20,000 (that’s nearly $650,000 by 2023 standards) and finished in 1910, is a three-story Arts and Crafts structure with bracketed gothic accents.

Photograph by Kris Gray Photography

Victor was the son of Bellingham founder Captain Henry Roeder and took over the family business after his father’s death in 1902. The house was built on seven lots of land in the Broadway Park area of Whatcom County, which was undeveloped at the time (difficult as that is to imagine now). The architect, Alfred Lee, had previously designed such impressive buildings as Old Main at Western Washington University and Bellingham’s City Hall (now the Whatcom Museum of History and Art).

Roeder was closely involved with the construction of the home. He sourced only the finest building materials, importing oak from the east coast for all the floors, the stairs and banisters, and the wainscoted walls throughout the house. He also hand-picked the craftsmen, many of them unknown, who created the beautiful details in the home, from the intricate woodwork to the hand painted mural on the walls of the dining room.

Photograph by Kris Gray Photography

With a total of eight bedrooms and three bathrooms on the second and third floors, plus another bathroom and five multi-use rooms in the finished basement, the interior is surprisingly spacious. While the exterior view makes it clear that the Roeder Home is large, it hardly looks enormous enough to contain so many rooms.

The house sits back from the street, tucked behind a sprawling lawn—which once included a small pond, until a child nearly drowned, and the pond was filled in. Set on a base of Chuckanut quarry sandstone, which also makes up the front and back entrances, the house is covered in brick up to the second floor, where the exterior changes to stucco to the roofline. The glassed-in porch at the top of the front steps gives the home a cozy, inviting look and creates a light-filled entrance to the interior.

Photograph by Kris Gray Photography

Upon entering the foyer, the first thing visitors see is the main staircase, with 90° turns and ornate, dark-stained woodwork that matches the walls. The detailed woodcraft continues throughout the house, accented by fine glasswork like the stained-glass panels on the built-in bookcases in the living room and the hand-painted Steuben sconces (designed to work with both gas and electric) lighting the wainscoted dining room walls.

The beauty that permeates the entire house is staggering, but perhaps the most interesting elements in the house are the unexpected ones: a hidden closet door built into the foyer wall; a secret passageway from Victor’s closet into his wife’s sitting room, for marital rendezvous; a custom pocket window that lets out from the main bedroom onto the roof deck.

At the Roeder Home, the details are mesmerizing, both for their beauty and for their ingenuity. The effect is one of authenticity: yes, the house was built by a wealthy man with an eye for design, but it was also built to be lived in, and for its beauty to be experienced without preciousness.

Luckily for the rest of us, in 1971 the home was donated to the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department, and it’s been open to the public ever since. For decades it was used for a range of educational programs (the basement still houses a kiln and a small darkroom), but these days it’s rented out for private events at a very reasonable price (I actually had my wedding there in 2018, and I highly recommend it). The house was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1979. 2600 Sunset Dr., Bellingham, 360.778.5850,