After the long darkness of the COVID shutdown and the loss of our beloved Limelight, we are excited to announce that Pickford Film Center has purchased a second building in downtown Bellingham

105 Grand Street, less than a block from our Bay Street location will be the site for two new 70-seat and one 20-seat cinemas.  It is a great addition to the Arts District, an endorsement for the viability of downtown and recognition that Bellingham loves going to the movies.

This expansion is necessary for the Pickford to accomplish our programming and mission goals and continue to bring you the independent films that you have come to appreciate and expect from the Pickford.  Without additional screens, we are unable to showcase films from underserved filmmakers and work with community partners to bring films that are important for education and cultural growth.


Pickford Film Center have taken the first step with the purchase of the space, secured by a favorable loan and significant down-payment.  After the Pickford’s commitment, our Capital Campaign fundraising goal is one million dollars.

Now we come to you, our community, to help turn this dream into a reality. As we approach the end of the year, I ask you to consider giving to Pickford Film Center’s Grand Expansion Capital Campaign and help get us to the finish line so we can bring you more movies!


Make a One Time Gift

Help us reach our campaign goals with a one time donation!

Make a Monthly Pledge Gift

Gifts of $150 and up can now be pledged over 12 months!
  • Use “Make a Gift” button
  • Select a gift level of $150 or more
  • Click “Make a 12 Month Pledge”

Donate Stock

Just forward this information to your financial advisor:

  • Receiving Institution Account Number: PLR-001519
  • Account Title/Registration: Pickford Film Center
  • Contact Name at Charitable Organization: Susie Purves
  • Telephone Number: 360-647-1300
  • Mailing Address: PO Box 2521, Bellingham, WA 98227
  • Name of Receiving Institution: Saturna Capital Corporation
  • DTC Number of Receiving Institution (“delivery instructions”): 0443
  • You or your financial advisor should email to notify us when your donation has been made

Donate your Required Minimum Distribution

When you make a qualified charitable distribution directly from your IRA, you are supporting the Pickford while meeting your annual distribution threshold. Talk with your financial advisor about making a gift before year-end!

Requirements for taking advantage of this tax-free giving opportunity:

  • You must be 70 1/2 or older on the day of the gift.
  • You may transfer up to $100,000 from your IRA to one or more qualified charities.
  • You decline goods and services of value.

Your Charitable IRA Rollover gift is not subject to income tax and counts towards your required minimum distribution for the year. If helpful, please feel free to use this template to communicate with your account custodian.

  • Have your financial institution make the check payable to Pickford Film Center, and send to PO Box 2521 Bellingham, WA 98227
  • Payment must come directly from your financial institution in order to avoid taxation
  • Your name and mailing address should be included with payment
  • If you have questions or would like to designate your gift to a specific fund, contact


In 1998, the Pickford Film Center, then named Whatcom Film Association, opened the doors of the Pickford Cinema. Meant to be a venue for independent, foreign, and documentary films, the Pickford was a crucial part of the revitalization of downtown Bellingham. As audiences grew, it was clear the original location would soon be too small and after several years exploring downtown real estate, the building at 1318 Bay Street was purchased in 2004.

 A capital campaign commenced in 2005 and six years later, with $3,250,000 donated by the community, along with a timely loan from Bank of the Pacific, the doors on PFC’s new home opened.

Once the flagship theatre on Bay Street was in operation, the PFC renovated the original cinema, renamed it the Limelight, and continued to occupy that location as a rented venue. This gave us three screens, which meant more films, more flexibility, larger festivals, longer film runs, and greater capacity, along with greater service to the community and our mission.

The $800,000 loan, taken out in 2011, was paid off in 2019, which gave us one fully owned property with two theatres. Retaining the Limelight, which continually ran in the black, gave us a much needed third screen and allowed us to maintain our ties with the Pickford’s roots.

However, in September of 2020, the Pickford Film Center board and staff reluctantly made the decision to close the Limelight permanently. We did not know how long the pandemic and its restrictions would last, but it seemed likely that it would be impossible to mitigate health and safety concerns in a space with a tiny lobby and a shared ventilation system. We concentrated instead on upgrading the Bay Street ventilation and making other safety related changes there and hoped that a solution to our need for more than two screens would present itself at some point.

The organization debated a variety of solutions, including renting space in far flung locations throughout Bellingham and in Whatcom County. However, our heart is in downtown and we have a real commitment to supporting and expanding Bellingham’s Arts District.

Enter a temporary lull in the current commercial real estate market. This allowed Pickford Film Center to buy a second downtown venue less than a block away from Bay Street. The building at 105 Grand is large enough for two large theaters and one small jewel box space, perfect for private events as well as regular screenings, along with a  spacious lobby and concession area.

The organization invested $270,000 and took out a $630,000 loan at favorable terms for the remainder of the purchase price. Now there are improvements that must be done to turn a lovely commercial building into the theatre spaces we want and need. For that, PFC intends to raise a million dollars.

Why Now?

• As long as the Pickford Film Center can only offer two theatres, we will
be disadvantaged in booking the number and quality of films our audiences want. We have built strong relationships with film distributors, but they have certain requirements that are difficult to meet with only two screens.

• The current commercial real estate market is much more favorable for a purchase than for a suitable rental.

• The success of the Limelight and the sadness with which the news of the its closure was met suggests a great deal of support for a new venue.

• Owning real estate provides stability. The Bay Street building is owned free and clear and was key to surviving a 14-month closure without earnings. It also allows for more flexibility. The organization was able to make changes in our own building, but similar changes would not make sense in a leased space with multiple tenants and shared facilities and ventilation.

PFC Pitch (dragged) 3
PFC Pitch (dragged) 4
PFC Pitch (dragged) 5
PFC Pitch (dragged) 6
PFC Pitch (dragged) 7
PFC Pitch (dragged) 8
PFC Pitch (dragged) 9
PFC Pitch (dragged) 10
PFC Pitch
previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow