Bellingham Motto "Ye Olde City Of
Subdued Excitement" A Refreshing Change
If you're a Bellinghamster (Bellingham Resident) you have
no doubt heard of the city of Bellingham referred to as "The City Of
Subdued Excitement" but did you know where it originated and what it
With the phrase so often tossed around and repeated
on the internet and in local print you may be
surprised to know that Bellingham's official motto is actually
"A Refreshing Change".
The Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System
Bellingham Motto Or Slogan
Bellingham is known for its hiking trails, interurban pathways, bike
lanes, lakes and rivers earning it names like Outdoorsman's Paradise
and Hiking Town U.S.A. and the city often finds itself on national
"Best Of" lists for outdoor activities.
Bellingham's official motto "A
Refreshing Change" seems to fit pretty well but almost nobody you
talk to seems to
know about it.
The City Of Subdued Excitement motto, it is
said originated at perhaps the most recognizable symbols of
Bellingham--the old red-bricked City Hall building at 121 Prospect
street in downtown Bellingham, now the
Located right next to the Museum you will find a mural painted on the
side of the old brick Lone Wolf Antiques building that declares
Bellingham as "Ye Old City Of Subdued Excitement".
faded and bearing the marks of creative vandals the sign itself has
also become a kind of icon for the city of Bellingham. As the story
goes, the antique store owner's mother suggest her son utilize the
store's blank wall facing the old city hall to paint a sign welcoming
visitors to Bellingham and since 1994 the City Of Subdued Excitement
sign has been welcoming and perplexing passers by ever since.
"City Of Subdued Excitement" Old City
Whether you are a visitor to the Bellingham area or a long
time Bellinghamster resident, a visit to the old red-brick
"New Whatcom" city hall Whatcom Museum is certainly
worthwhile. After the Washington legislature passed a law
forbidding the naming of any city with the word "New" in it
and the merger of Whatcom with Fairhaven and other smaller
cities the building became the city hall for the new city of
Bellingham Washington. The building itself built in 1892 has
an unmistakable charm and grandeur that seems to welcome you
inside. Much like the central Fairy Tale Castle standing at the
center of Disneyland and Disney World's Magic Kingdom, this
unique French-Victorian inspired structure was intentionally
designed to be a city icon and stand tall to be the first
thing people see when entering the city from land or by ship
when entering Bellingham Bay.
Perched high on a bluff
that was originally at the edge of Bellingham Bay, its easy to lose
sight of the old city hall's once prominence on the
waterfront. The shoreline in front of the building has been
repeatedly filled in and expanded over the years to make way
for various industries and commerce making the Old City Hall
appear to stand much further inland.
The "City Of Subdued Excitement" Sign?
As an important part of Bellingham's heritage
the City of Subdued Excitement mural should be preserved in its original form
for future generations. There are a number of options to preserve this grand old
Spray the sign with a
protective clear coat with UV protection and allow easy
Enclose the sign with a
climate controlled glass structure to protect it from
vandalism and further deterioration
Relocate the sign to an
indoor viewing pavilion by removing the wall brick by
brick and reassembling it at its new location.
Funding sources for the
preservation of this important piece of Bellingham's past,
estimated to be between $150,00 - $450,000 would need to come
from both the public and private sector and permission would
need to be gotten from the sign's current owners. One option
could be a temporary increase in the city's sales tax as well
as well as charging admission to see the sign in its new home.
Of course the sign's owner could choose to just paint it over
and paint a new mural?