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Woodstock Farm seeks new management

The City of Bellingham opens applications to take over site operations

A picture of a sign taken on Jan. 27, 2023 reads, “Woodstock Farm” and “City of Bellingham” in a color that indicates a recreational or cultural interest site is nearby. Woodstock Farm is just off of Chuckanut Drive near Teddy Bear Cove. // Photo by Riley Weeks

With its winding, meandering trails, expansive views of Chuckanut Bay and multiple historic buildings, Woodstock Farm is one of Bellingham’s lesser known special use facilities. 

The 23-acre park sits just off of Chuckanut Drive along Teddy Bear Cove. 

The city has opened applications to organizations or individuals wanting to manage, program or operate all or parts of Woodstock Farm. This invitation is a way to increase public interaction with the site, according to Melissa Bianconi, the City of Bellingham’s parks and recreation manager. 

“We’re just trying to make the best use of our public sites,” Bianconi said. “Woodstock Farm is a little bit off the beaten path.” 

Woodstock Farm is just one of several special use facilities owned by Bellingham Parks and Recreation. Others include the Fairhaven Village Green and Depot Market Square.

Woodstock Farm is the only city-owned park currently accepting applications for new management. Applications for use have not been reviewed yet and won’t be considered until the application period closes. The deadline for organizations to apply is March 1, 2023, but the city is under no obligation to accept any application. 

“This is really just a request for information,” Bianconi said. “We’re really just doing a broad brush, a call out for potential partners.” 

Woodstock houses.jpg

A picture of the Gates Lee house taken on Jan. 27, 2023. It is just one of several prominent structures that encompass Woodstock Farm. Other notable structures include the barn and patio, as well as the refurbished (but empty) chicken coop. Heirs of the Lee family sold the property to the City of Bellingham in 2004. // Photo by Riley Weeks

The site itself was under the stewardship and care of the Lummi and Samish people since time immemorial, before the arrival of European colonizers disrupted Indigenous ways of life. 

Cyrus Lester Gates built Woodstock Farm in 1905 and led other development projects in the area, such as Larrabee State Park and Arroyo Park. Fairhaven Park, as well as parts of the Mount Baker Highway, were also created in part by Gates. In 1944, Raymond and Gladyce Lee purchased Woodstock Farm from the Gates family. The City of Bellingham purchased the land from heirs of the Lee family in 2004. 

Currently, the city rents out Woodstock Farm facilities to the public for weddings, family gatherings, retreats, fundraisers and more, according to the City of Bellingham. The park itself is open to visitors for free from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily without a reservation. 

While waiting to hear what the future holds for Woodstock Farm, community members have proposed potential short-term recreational uses for the space like bike camping or more long-term commercial uses, according to Bianconi. 

Tedd and Michelle Girgus are occasional visitors to Woodstock Farm. After wandering around the area on their first visit, the couple had to look up what the site was after they left, confused by the mix of historic buildings intermingled with hiking trails. 

A commercial use for the farm, like a snack or coffee shop, would be welcome, according to the Girguses, as long as the historic buildings and natural scenery of the area are preserved. 

“A place to sit and relax would be nice,” Michelle Girgus said. 

But until proposals are reviewed, Woodstock Farm will likely sit as it is now: a property of sprawling acreage open to anyone to explore, if they’re willing to find it.

Woodstock Farm view.jpg

A view of Chuckanut Bay from Woodstock Farm taken on Jan. 27, 2023. This view and other similar attractions are featured on the City of Bellingham’s website featuring the property. // Photo by Riley Weeks

Riley Weeks

Riley Weeks is a city news beat reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a junior in the environmental studies/journalism program and is working to complete minors in American Indian Studies and Law, Diversity and Justice. When she's not reporting, Riley loves to hike, bake and read. 

You can reach her at 

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