Wahl's Department Store Records, 1900-2009  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Wahl's Department Store
Title
Wahl's Department Store Records
Dates
1900-2009 (inclusive)
1918-1969 (bulk)
Quantity
16.5 linear feet
Collection Number
XOE_CPNWS0046wahlstore
Summary
This collection of materials reflects eighty-two years of the Wahl family-operated department store in Bellingham, Washington. While bound volumes of advertisements from the Bellingham Herald comprise a large portion of the collection, other materials include financial records, administrative records, real estate records, clippings, correspondence and photographs.
Repository
Western Washington University, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies
Goltz-Murray Archives Building
808 25th St.
Bellingham, WA
98225
Telephone: 360-650-7534
cpnws@wwu.edu
Access Restrictions

This collection is open to the public.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for preparing this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Funding for encoding the finding aid was awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Wahl's department store, located in downtown Bellingham, Washington, was owned and operated by the Wahl family from 1913 to 1972. Constructed by J.J. Donovan in 1913, Wahl's department store building was bought by J.B. Wahl that year and used as a dry goods store. After J.B. Wahl died in 1937, his son Ralph E. Wahl assumed management until his retirement in 1971. Ralph E. Wahl considered himself more of a fisherman/photographer than a businessman, and is known for his photography of the Bellingham area.

In addition to owning the department store, the Wahl family also owned the Grand Theatre housed in the same building complex. Purchased by the National Bank of Commerce in 1972, the department store and Grand Theatre were demolished two years later to be remodeled into a new National Bank of Commerce office.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Wahl's Department Store records span the years 1900 to 2009. The bulk of the collection consists of twelve bound volumes of department store advertisements from the Bellingham Herald dating from September 1944 to August 1969. The Wahl's Department Store collection also includes administrative, financial, and real estate records as well as clippings and other printed matter. Real estate records document the acquisition and ownership of the department store and Grand Theatre by lot number. The real estate records also include hand-drawn floor plans and demolition photos of the store and the Grand Theatre.

The collection's administrative records consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence to and from customers, associates, and Wahl family members. Included in the correspondence materials is a letter from A Mother’s Club of Bellingham to the Wahl Department Store about a Japanese man in their employ, written in 1942.

Financial records contain invoices, company day books, tax records bills of sale, and inventories of damage costs due to a fire that occurred in the department store in 1910. The collection also contains printed and promotional materials (including advertisements), photographs, and a small number of files relating to management of the Grand Theatre Company.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Wahl's Department Store Records, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Heritage Resources, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA 98225-9123.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Administrative and Financial Records, 1900-1967Return to Top

Administrative correspondence includes a 1942 letter from A Mother’s Club to Wahl's department store concerning a Japanese employee.

Container(s) Description Dates
Administrative
1900-1967
Box/Folder
1/1
Correspondence
1900-1967
1/2
Correspondence (photocopy of originals)
1903, 1921
1/3
Correspondence
1918, 1936
1/4
Correspondence (Knights of Columbus and J.J. Donovan)
1922-1924
1/5
National Recovery Administration letter to Bellingham Board of Conciliation
1933
1/6
Incoming Correspondence (empty envelopes, documentation of communications from out of state and overseas)
approximately 1948-1969
Financial and Legal
1904-1978
Box/Folder
1/7
Company day books
October 1904- December 1909, January 1910-May 1915
1/8
Invoices and bill of sale
1905-1918
1/9
Estimation of Wahl's department store fire damage costs
1910
1/10
J.B. Wahl Account Books
1921-1927
1/11
Correspondence re: Tax Returns
approximately 1922-1927
1/12 - 1/16
J.B. Wahl - Tax Returns, Years 1913, 1917-1920
approximately 1913, 1917-1921
Box
2
J.B. Wahl - Tax Returns, Years 1921-1934
approximately 1921-1935
Box/Folder
3/1 -3/3
J.B. Wahl - Tax Returns, Years 1935-1937
approximately 1935-1938
3/4
J.B. Wahl (Estate) - Tax Returns Year 1937
1937-1938
3/5-3/6
Wahl's Inc and J.B. Wahl Realty Company - Tax Returns, Years 1938-1939
1938-1939
3/7
Montague and McHugh Bankruptcy
approximately 1932
3/8
J.B. Wahl Estate
approximately 1937
3/9
Henry Thiel Estate (letter re:)
1941
3/10
Bernice Wahl Estate
1963-1964
3/11
Correspondence with stockholders
approximately 1963-1978

Series 2:  General Real Estate, 1924-1982Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Wahl's department store and Grand Theatre Lots
1924-1982
Box/Folder
3/12
Leases for the Alaska Building
1903-1913
3/13
Property and Inspections and Valuations (Frank Headrick)
1924-1929
3/14
Plat map of downtown Bellingham (denotes Wahl holdings)
1948
3/15
Real estate contracts, Lot 1, 2, 3 Block 24
1928, 1933
4/1
Warranty deed, Lot 1, 2, 3 B 24
1936 October 1
4/2
Release of mortgage, Lot 1, 2, 3 B 24
1924-1939
4/3
Abstract of title, Lot 1, 2, 3, B 24
1940
4/4
Mortgage payments, and release of mortgage, Lot 1, 2, 3 B 24
1933-1946
4/5
Grand Theater records, Lot 3, B 24
1924-1958
4/6
Warranty deeds, and title insurance policy, Lot 5, 6 B 24
1949, 1951
4/7
Real estate contract, warranty deed, bill of sale, and title insurance policy Lot 9, Block 19; and Lots 7 and 8, Block 24
1953-1954
Oversize Folder
1
Wahl’s house and department store demolition photos
1974-1982
1
Wahl’s department store and Grand Theatre hand-drawn floor plans
1956-1968

Series 3:  Clippings, Printed and Promotional Materials, 1905-2009Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
4/8
Wahl's department store advertisements
1905-1966
4/9
Front page of Bellingham Herald, End of WWI
1918 November 11
4/10
Merchants of Bellingham "one price to all" notice
Notice posted by Wahl's and other merchants against discrimination in the form of "discounts to special classes".
1924
4/11
Wahl's department store ephemera
1924, 1929
4/12
Wahl family and department store clippings
1954-2005
4/13
Shima family history
Clippings and correspondence re: members of the Shima family: Asajiro Shima and his son Toshio George Shima were employees of Wahl's Department Store. Members of the Shima family were relocated and imprisoned during the World War II-era internment of Japanese-Americans.
approximately 2003-2009
4/14
Speech: Ralph Wahl
1950
4/15
"Cheer-up" card signed by store employees
undated
4/16
Sample stationary, forms, certificates
undated
Box
7
Sample packaging and branding
undated
Box/Folder
4/17
"A Builder Passes..." - framed clipping re: J.B. Wahl
undated
4/18
Wahl's 1951 Fun and Fashion Show Program
1951 August 15
4/19
"We Dream of Lilac Time" color advertisement
undated
4/20
Bellingham Herald advertisement
1956 November 28
Box
7
Bellingham Herald advertisements (laminated)
1945, 1964
Scrapbooks
1944-1969
Volume
1
Scrapbook
1944 September- 1948 January
2
Scrapbook
1948 February - 1950 October
3
Scrapbook
1950 October - 1953 May
4
Scrapbook
1953 May - 1955 April
5
Scrapbook
1955 April - 1956 March
6
Scrapbook
1956 April - December
7
Scrapbook
1957 January - 1958 May
8
Scrapbook
1958 June - 1960 February
9
Scrapbook
1960 March - 1961 November
10
Scrapbook
1961 December- 1963 December
11
Scrapbook
1964 January - 1966 April
12
Scrapbook
1966 May - 1969 August
Box
5
Photographs
1901-1911, undated

Series IV:  Grand Theatre Company Records, 1927-1938Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/1
Acknowledgement of transfer of stock
Signed by L.A. Randall
1927 July 19
6/2
Agreement with Western Film Corporation (distributor)
1927 August 11
6/3
Chattel Mortgage from Grand Theatre Company Inc to J.B. Wahl
1930 August 27
6/4
Lease Agreement: J.B. and Anna M. Wahl and Hughes Franklin Theatres Co.
1931 March 1
6/5
Agreement supplemental to lease
Two copies, one signed by J.B. and Anna Wahl
1931 March 23
6/6
Agreement between Grand Theatre Co. and Hughes Franklin Co.
1931 March 23
6/7
Agreement supplemental to lease (Hughes Franklin Theatres Company)
1931 August 11
6/8
Promissory Note (copy) for payment to Universal Film Exchanges
1932 January 20
6/9
Correspondence with Warner Bros. re: "Dawn Patrol"
1938
6/10
Correspondence with Columbia and Warner Bros. (F.B.I. Investigation)
Cover letter dated December 23, 1938 from Seattle F.B.I. noting use of attached letters in investigation.
1938

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Business enterprises--Washington (State)--Bellingham--History--Sources
  • Business, Industry, and Labor
  • City and Town Life
  • Department stores--Washington (State)--Bellingham--History--Sources.
  • Japanese Americans--Washington (State)--Bellingham--History--Sources.
  • Retail Trade--United States--Washington (State)--Bellingham--History--Sources.
  • Sales promotion--Washington (State)--Bellingham--History--Sources.
  • Theaters--Washington (State)--Bellingham--History--Sources.
  • Personal Names :
  • Wahl, Ralph.
  • Corporate Names :
  • Grand Theatre (Bellingham, Wash.)
  • Wahl's (Firm).
  • Wahl's Department Store
  • Geographical Names :
  • Bellingham (Wash.)--History--Sources