Saturday, November 26, 2011

Post Office Art in Ferndale WA

Ferndale, Washington, is a small city located about ten miles south of Birch Bay and the US-Canadian border, accessible by a couple of I-5 exits. This river town has about 10,000 people and an eclectic old main street. 

By Northwest standards, Ferndale is older city, founded more than a hundred years ago. The mighty Nooksack River, which runs through the town, was for many decades an important transportation route into the interior of Whatcom County, and it was used to float harvested timber from the rugged mountain interior to the Bay.

Ferndale has some nice parks that pay tribute to its past, including Pioneer Park with nicely preserved early-settlers' cabins, Hovander Homestead Park with a historic farm, and Tennant Lake with scenic walks.  However, despite these nice parks, Ferndale is not a gentrified, upscale river city; it has more of a blue-collar "working city" persona. This persona is likely due to the fact that it has several large industries near it, including aluminum producer Alcoa Intalco and two oil refineries (BP Cherry Point and Conoco Phillips).

As you exit I-5 and head west on main street, you first encounter shopping areas with businesses that mostly are regional or national chains. As you head further to the west, and cross the Nooksack River bridge, you come to the old downtown main street that stretches for a few blocks. It is populated mostly by local businesses, including several restaurants. 

Ferndale Post Office
On the western outer edge of the old downtown is the Ferndale post office, located by a gas station. The post office was, in the past, difficult to spot because it sits back from the road and has little signage. It is in an older building that was decorated on the outside as if it were an antique drug store. At first glance, the post office did not appear to be a public building.

In the last few months, the Ferndale post office renovated its exterior. In doing so, it not only avoided reverting to an institutional look, but brightened up the area and made itself more easily identifiable as a post office. As the pictures in this post show, the post office decorated its outside with colorful paintings of postage stamps. The painting are nicely done, adding a bit of fun to a trip the post office. 

I have been told that these "postage stamp" paintings were done by local artists. Both they and the post office deserve praise for the innovative idea and the nice execution of a project that adds to the character of downtown Ferndale.

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