Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Construction of the 3rd U.S. Border Station (1932). Part 1 0f 3)

 -photograph scanned with permission from private collection-

The above photograph is dated, 1 March, 1932 and shows the laying of the foundation for the third Customs building.  We are looking NE from a location in what is now the traffic exit lanes just south of the current (fourth) US Customs building and the International boundary (on the north edge of Sumas, WA).  On the left of the picture are dwellings in Huntington, B.C., Canada.  The brick structure with the three brightly framed windows on the right is the Gillies building housing the OK Garage and the soon to be replaced, second Customs house (as seen in my 30 January post).
-photograph scanned with permission from private collection- 
The above picture, dated 1 June,1932, is looking west towards the familiar Sumas landmark, Moe's Hill.  Moe's Hill is the location of many seemingly aerial views of both Sumas, WA and Huntingdon, B.C beginning as early as 1896.  The International boundary runs across the top of the hill. 
 According to Burl Beane (Sumas Customs Port Director 1961-1976) the fine bricks for the Customs house were made by the Kilgard Brick Plant located at Kilgard, B.C. (about 6 miles to the NE).
-photograph scanned with permission from private collection-

The bottom photograph is facing SW, dated 1 August, 1932, shows the US Border Station from a location in front of the Gillies building seen in photo two.  There are signs to the left of the cool car advertising the AAA and Lions Clubs.

According to research of Burl Brooks Beane:
"Construction was started late in 1931. The excavation produced a nightmare of water and mud, due to the hydrostatic pressure which is common in the area. (Sumas has an unlimited supply of excellent water, from artesian wells.)  It was necessary for the builder to add large quantities of reinforcing steel and build on a massive under-ground slab, rather then normal footings.  The station was completed in October of 1932, at what is said to have been a large financial loss to the prime contractor.
Sumas has served another commercial pioneer and while doing so witness interesting changes in construction practices.  A brick company, which is located near-by, in Canada, has developed an impressive variety of building brick, fire brick and other structural clay products.  Numerous designs and sizes of bricks are imported for large building projects on the wisest coast.  
Bricks which are as large as building blocks are popular in schools and other public buildings to avoid additional labor costs of laying small types.
Large hollow bricks which are glazed on one side, in pastel colors, have been widely used to provide the normal outer wall and a finished interior wall in one operation.  In addition to developing advanced designs, the firm is well known for exacting quality control.   The importation of these new commodities have resulted in many classification problems and ruling over the years of there operation."

Look forward to a three part series about this now retired, beautiful building.  It served proudly till 1990 when it was replaced by the current Customs/Immigration facility.  So much has happened during the 82 years it has been a Sumas landmark.

Thanks for supporting my blog.  See you tomorrow.

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