A new business is serving up some of Bellingham’s less-than-wholesome history as part of a historical walking tour of downtown.
Known as the Good Time Girls, owners Sara Holodnick and Marissa McGrath are launching their first tour June 4. The 90-minute walking tour focuses on Bellingham’s notorious brothels, saloons, casinos and the people who worked in them.
“Sex and sin and booze are a great way to get people interested in history,” McGrath said, adding that the tour won’t be like a traditional historical tour.
The pair will guide guests along a 1.5-mile route that starts at Old School Tattoo on East Holly Street and will make several stops along Railroad Avenue and East Chestnut Street before venturing to the edge of Old Town — Bellingham’s original red light district. The tour, for which guests must be at least 21 years old, will finish with a classic cocktail at Bayou on Bay’s Oyster Bar.
To help customers hark back to the turn of the 1900s, Holodnick and McGrath will be decked out in custom-made costumes and will go by their stage names, Annie Jo and Magnolia Pearl.
“We’ll be dressed up like saloon girls with bloomers and corsets,” Holodnick said.
“It’s meant to be kind of cheeky,” McGrath added. “It’s more performance than a typical walking tour.”
To start, tours will be offered on Friday and Saturday nights through September. Private tours for birthdays or bachelor and bachelorette parties are also available upon request.
Holodnick and McGrath first met through AmeriCorps and consider themselves Bellingham transplants. They were both interested in learning more about Bellingham’s history and happened upon a book called “The Brothels of Bellingham” by Curtis F. Smith. After that, they decided it was high-time Bellingham had a walking tour that talked up the little-known history of the city.
Depending on how this first summer season goes, the pair may expand their “sin and gin tour,” as they call it, and offer tours of Fairhaven’s sultry past.
“It would be awesome if we were able to expand and do a Fairhaven tour,” McGrath said. “I’m not easily embarrassed, but Fairhaven’s history makes me blush.”