The three-story Knights of Pythias Building on Eleventh Street, in the heart of commercial Fairhaven, was designed by Boston architects Frank Longstaff and Henry Black. The broadly interpreted brick-and-iron Richardsonian Romanesque building, with its asymmetrical vertical components, features a ground-story round-arched entry of rusticated Chuckanut sandstone, which was quarried nearby. Upper-story windows are arranged with wide outer bays, tripartite intermediate bays with square transoms, and a central bay with narrow, paired openings. The building features sandstone lintels, recessed frieze panels, and faceted brick spandrel panels.
Longstaff and Black came to Fairhaven in the late nineteenth century to monitor progress on the massive Fairhaven Hotel and found the time to design at least two residences as well. During their stay, they were given a commission for the Queen Anne Gamwell House (1892) and also built a Shingle Style house for themselves (1890). Both houses are extant and located in the South Hill neighborhood of Bellingham; the Gamwell House is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Boston-born Roland Gamwell is reputed to be responsible for bringing the two architects to the city during Fairhaven’s boom years of 1889–1891.
The Knights of Pythias Building was originally owned by its first-floor tenants, clothiers McDougall and Dodson and hardware purveyors Gates and Fraser. The top floor was used for meetings for both the Knights of Pythias and Freemasons until the mid-1920s, when the fraternal orders each moved to locations in central Bellingham. The second floor was then used as offices and later for lodging, but neither of the two upper floors have been used since the 1960s. Most of the storefront businesses have changed frequently since the building’s construction, but one hardware store occupied the space for nearly 80 years. In 1980, a major Fairhaven business anchor, Village Books, opened in the building; it operated in that location until the owners, Chuck and Dee Robinson, commissioned a large, new building at the corner of Eleventh Street and Mill Avenue and relocated the bookstore in 2004.