The Good Time Girls of the Bureau of Historical Investigation are a blast from the past. Offering guided walking
tours around Bellingham dressed in Victorian costumes, these girls share their love of history in a new way and keep
the historical gears going.
Marissa McGrath and Sara Holodnick are the founders of the Bureau of Historical Investigation. They create, research and develop all of their tours with the other Good Time Girls: Jane Burleigh, Hayley Boothe and Kolby LaBree. McGrath and Holodnick became friends at AmeriCorps, while doing non-profit work and bonded over talking politics at their “Soapbox Society” meetings in 2007.
McGrath leads the tours and researches, equipped with her degree in cultural anthropology, minor in women’s studies
and love for history. Holodnick also leads the tours and manages the online content of their website. While on tour,
McGrath and Holodnick dress up in corsets and different costume pieces and take on exaggerated versions of themselves. McGrath’s alter ego is Magnolia “Maggie” Pearl and Holodnick goes by Annie Jo. The other Good Time Girls are Francoise (Burleigh), Mary Louise Harper (Boothe) and Lucie La Rue (LaBree).
The Bureau of Historical Investigation has been the only business providing regular guided historical walking tours in Bellingham since 2011. They opened their store in January 2014, which is home to their gift and souvenir shop and is their “home base” for tours and special events. The store is located on West Holly, across the street from Bayou on Bay.
Before opening their store, the Good Time Girls operated online and met with customers at agreed upon locations to run tours in Bellingham. At first, their hearts were set on owning a bar and operating out of a bar, like the Underground Tour in Seattle. However, they soon realized that they would rather have a gift and souvenir shop.
Their shop sells hats, postcards, jewelry and other local gifts made by Bellingham artisans and artists. They even have books from Village Books on topics relevant to the store such as Good Time Girls by Lael Morgan, the book that inspired their name. The store is filled with turn of the century trinkets that “Evoke a sense of the past and create a sense of wonder,” McGrath said.
The Bureau of Historical Investigation offers private, public and mini tours of Bellingham. Private tours cost $90 for a group of 6 people, and $13 per extra person. Public tours cost between $15 and $18. Mini tours cost $5 and are usually a three-stop tour that last about 30 minutes.
Their recent tours have been the Sin & Gin Tour and the Gore & Lore Tour. The Sin & Gin Tour focuses on the history of women in Bellingham and the important roles they had in building the town and the Gore and Lore Tour focuses on scary history folklore in downtown Bellingham and Fairhaven. They plan on creating more tours including a general history of Bellingham tour.
Though time moves on, the Good Time Girls are along for the ride and loving every minute of it. “Our mission is to bring the past to people in the present as a way to get them thinking about their place in the broader historical context,” McGrath said.
217 W. Holly, Bellingham