Former Birch Bay cabin becomes space for grandkids
By Jack Kintner
Bellingham dentist Theo Rasmussen and his wife Florence bought a small cottage in the Cottonwood Reach section of Birch Bay in 1924, when Calvin Coolidge was president and both Chet Atkins and Audie Murphy were born.
Called “Rasty’s Roost,” the 1,000-square foot cottage at 8210 Birch Bay Drive was near the old Halvorson’s Pier, where their daughter Linnea used to go with friends to fish for bullheads.
Rasmussen paid $450 for the cabin and an 8,000 square foot lot. “He kicked in another $15 for the title to the beach,” said his daughter, now Linnea Mattson, “which at low tide adds two acres to the property.”
Mattson, an only child, remembered days in her youth skating at the roller rink on weekend nights and playing with neighbor kids. “She was popular,” said her husband, Al, “and pretty enough to be elected homecoming queen at Bellingham high school.”
“Well, it actually was queen of our spring variety show they used to do years ago called ‘What a Show’,” she corrected.
“Same thing,” he said with a shrug and a grin.
The Mattsons worked in Woodinville, and when retirement loomed they agreed to give the tiny place a try. “If we lasted six months we decided we could make a go of it,” she said.
Six years later they’re still there and have decided not only to stay, but to double their space by building a new cottage. To make room they moved Rasty’s Roost a block northwest to a vacant lot they own at 5118 Sea View Drive, where it will become additional space for their five daughters and three grandchildren when they visit.
“It was pretty slick,” said Al, “they had to go around on to Shintaffer and went probably a mile or more to move just that distance. They put the place up on blocks and at 2 a.m. on a Friday morning moved it, very slowly. We never broke that speed limit on Birch Bay Drive.”
Much of the furniture and other things that have accumulated after 83 years and one major remodel in 1947 stayed in the house, “and didn’t get a scratch,” he said.
Even though the Mattson’s lot where they’ll be building their new cottage technically runs all the way out to the low tide line, like other long time Birch Bay residents they do not regulate the public’s access to it.
They’ve grown philosophical over the years saying that the only problem they have is that occasionally campers will move in on their family’s fire circle they’ve built up with bricks, and sometimes drag away the logs they use for benches.
“We sure don’t mind people walking on the beach, although camping out is a bit much since we have to clean it up, but basically people are pretty good, and in recent years it’s been less and less of an issue. We’re happy to be here,” he said.