China Clipper (Clipper Club Cafe)/Haskins and Peele/Williston Notions Shops site

Location: 406 4th Ave E
Transportation; Diversity: Chinese; Popular culture

haskins and peeleHaskins and Peele Shoe Shop about 1914, Esterly photograph courtesy of Washington State Historical Societychina clipperChina Clipper Club Cafe today (2012), Photograph courtesy of Deb Ross

Fourth Avenue as it worked its way east towards the Swantown Bridge was an important commercial section of town, with stores and buildings coming and going over the years. The photograph at above left shows the Haskins and Peele Shoe shop located here in 1914. It was also the location of the C.A. Williston Notions store, linked below. Both of these photographs were taken by Robert Esterly as part of his series of photographs showing commercial and industrial operations and their owners.

Thurston County assessor’s data show that the current building at this location, the China Clipper Club Cafe, was erected in 1951. In 1959, a runaway Union Pacific train failed to be stopped at the Union Pacific depot across the street, and ran into the cafe and adjacent buildings, killing one and seriously injuring 20 others and causing thousands of dollars of damage.

The cafe has a history of serving Asian cuisine and its owners and employees of Chinese descent, although in more recent years its offerings have been more eclectic. A 1963 article in the Daily Olympian featured owner CY Wong after the cafe had been burglarized. The exterior of the building features vintage neon signs as well as murals by local sign painter Ira Coyne. 

Links to more information:

Washington State Historical Society, enter the following catalog number in collection search box: 2010.149.42.1 (C.A. Williston Store); C1961.498.7; C1986.43.63.1.2.4.1 (Burglary in 1963)

Historylink article on train wreck

Now Where Were We? episode short video about the train wreck, and customers at the Clipper at the time. 

 

 

 

 

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