Waples Mercantile and the Inn at Lynden

ClientForefront Ventures LLC
LocationLynden, WA
AwardsOutstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation, Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation, 2016
HighlightsHistoric Preservation, Retail, Restaurants, Pubs, Hospitality, Adaptive Reuse, Downtown, Placemaking, Genius Loci

The historic Waples Mercantile building operated as a beloved department store for more than 60 years. RMC transformed the 1914 structure into a boutique hotel and retail destination after a devastating fire in 2008. The rich history of the building and its importance to economic life in the small town for many decades were the driving factors in the renovation. Our job was not only to preserve the structure, but to preserve what the Waples Mercantile Building meant to the community as well.

At the project onset, RMC worked with a preservation consultant to obtain historic tax credits, which enabled it to be built. Because much of the building had been gutted from the fire, the scope included a new mechanical, electrical, plumbing system in addition to new fire sprinkler systems and a new elevator and code-compliant stairway. Reparation of exterior plasterwork, rebuilt window sashes, and reproduced upper-level windows to mimic the historic ones destroyed in the fire were also important components of the design.

The biggest project challenge for the retail spaces was ensuring that the ground floor functioned in keeping with the original department store—where people could move about without having to leave the building. Rather than creating floor-to-ceiling walls that would obstruct the building’s thick timber and impressive volume, RMC elected to design a screen wall made of steel, wire mesh, and recycled fir to separate the spaces. The design also preserves original archways, while adding steel-framed windows, metal grates, and wooden trellises. Creaky plank floors, heavy timber columns and beams, and weathered brick yield the texture of a storied past, while busy retailers speak to the building’s increasingly prosperous present.

The design of the Inn at Lynden seeks to blur the line between hospitality and retail by physically connecting with the locally curated spaces for shopping and dining in Waples Mercantile. On the main floor, we elected to keep the design minimal to emphasize the architectural details. Each of the 35 guest rooms offer stylish and serene comfort that integrate elements of the building’s rich history, including the original heavy timber columns and beams, repurposed fir in flooring and furnishings, and textured concrete walls.

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