It looks like Christmas but it was really August. It appears to be an underground mine but was actually the lobby of the Leopold Hotel in Bellingham, decorated for the 1934 meeting of the Washington Natural Resources Association.
Notice the lobby fountain and hotel furnishings to the left. Standing below the Mother Lode sign was James H. Pascoe, superintendent of the Bellingham Coal Mine. Pascoe directed the construction and decoration of this unique entry, which served as vestibule into the hotel’s convention hall. According to the August 16, 1934 Bellingham Herald, the exhibition featured different minerals, coal, wood, clay, and metals many of which were found in Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish counties. During the 1920s and 30s, Bellingham billed itself as “The Convention City” in efforts to promote commercial tourism.
The hotel, which hosted this event, was constructed in 1899 and later named for Leopold Schmidt, founder of the Olympia Brewing Company. In the 1980s, the Leopold Hotel underwent significant renovations and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It now serves as a retirement home to about 100 residents.
This photo comes courtesy of Jim Pascoe’s grandson, Roy Asbahr and great-grandson, Nathan Asbahr both of Portland, while Jeff Jewell of the Whatcom Museum provided research for the caption.