Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum


Join us in exploring, preserving and promoting Olympia’s history. We are a non-profit membership-based organization presenting the stories from our past to enrich the present and inform the future of Olympia. The Bigelow House Museum, owned and operated by the Society and Museum, is the oldest residence in Olympia, Washington, and one of the earliest still standing in the Pacific Northwest.

Society News

New Book Available! 

The Olympia Historical Society & Bigelow House Museum is now selling a limited number of a wonderful book about local maritime heritage: Tugs and Other Hard-Working Vessels of Puget Sound:  A Scrapbook from the Earlier Days, by Olympia native and naval architect and marine engineer, the late Norman R.  Knutsen.  The book is being made available through the generosity of the Knutsen Family.  The softbound, 345 page book, is extensively illustrated, including many rare images of Olympia maritime history.  The book, with the net proceeds benefitting the Olympia Historical Society & Bigelow House Museum, is available by mail only with credit or debit card or Paypal account, and sells for $48.08 including postage, handling and sales tax.  To order your copy, click “Buy Now” below (Paypal account not required!).

It’s the Water Exhibit

“It’s the Water” exhibit a project of Olympia Arts & Heritage Alliance (AHA!), is now on view in the front windows of the Old City Hall and Fire Station at State Street and Capitol Way in downtown Olympia and will be on view through October.

The exhibit is a curated collection of 48 images, including historic photographs, contemporary art, and maps. The exhibit is designed to explore the importance that water has played in the lives, businesses, cultures and recreation of South Sound residents. Images include oyster growing, shipbuilding, maritime fleets, Olympia Fire Department, Lakefair, beer brewing, Capitol Lake, rainfall, sea level rise, tribal fishing and basketry, and the Port of Olympia. Online resources accompany the installation, with background information, stories, and links to enrich the exhibit. AHA is also planning a series of related events. For more information see olyaha.org.

National Maritime Heritage Area seeking comments

Help chart a course for the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area! Spanning 3,000 miles of Washington State’s shoreline, this new heritage area will support our coastal communities in celebrating, maintaining, and sharing their water-based stories. Join the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to navigate the seas ahead by identifying your favorite maritime places, taking a survey on the future of our saltwater shorelines, or attending a virtual workshop. Get involved and learn more at www.preservewa.org/ahoy.


Time to Join us! 

Your annual dues support the newsletter, the Thurston County History Journal, continued programming, operation of the Bigelow House Museum, the website, and our continuing work toward a local downtown history museum and history archive for public research.  As a small, all volunteer, organization your contributions have always been critical to our success.
 Please join for 2021 now by visiting our Membership page 
Thanks to all of you for your support


We would love you to shop local, but if you do happen to be shopping on line, please consider clicking on the Amazon Smile logo and designating us as the beneficiary of this program, where a percentage of your purchase will go to support our programs. 

We also partner with Fred Meyer, and Ralph’s/Bayview Thriftway charitable donation programs. Click on any of the links provided here to be taken to their donation pages. 

Thank you!