Author Archives: Olympia Historical Society

Null Set – 8/11/19

The Null Set coffee house opened in West Olympia in August 1964, owned by Pat and Pete Holm and Bonnie and Bob Gillis. In addition to serving coffee and pastries, the coffee house featured folk music, served up with a dash of liberal-leaning politics. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org.

Daily Olympian photo, 1964, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Mary Olney Brown – 8/4/19

Mary Olney Brown, an early area settler, was a medical practitioner, poet, and ardent suffragist. In 1870 she attempted to vote in Thurston County but was turned away. Several other women, including Mary’s sister Emily Olney French, were more successful, voting in south Thurston County.  

  1. Wilson Clark photo, about 1883, courtesy State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society
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Petroglyph – 7/28/19

A group of workers carefully places a large stone, called a petroglyph, at the Olympia Tumwater Foundation’s headquarters at Tumwater Falls Park. The stone, inscribed with multiple tribal symbols, had been transported from a beach on Harstine Island in 1963 and donated to the Washington State Historical Society. In 2008 it was returned to the Squaxin Tribe and is now at the Veterans Memorial at the Tribal Museum near Shelton. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Henry Harris – 7/21/19

A young Henry Harris looks distinctly unimpressed at being photographed in his smart kilted suit. The Harris family were prominent Olympia merchants and active in the Jewish community. Their store building still exists at 518 Capitol Way, and their home, formerly adjacent to Sylvester Park, is now at the corner of 7th and Adams. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

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Olympia Women’s Suffrage Trail

The Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum has created an Olympia Women’s Suffrage Trail to highlight the important contributions Olympia residents made toward the goal of votes for women. An interactive map of the trail is below as well as a link to a downloadable PDF describing the features of the trail, and additional information about the history of women’s suffrage in Olympia. 

A high-resolution image of the Olympia Women’s Suffrage History banner at left can be obtained by contacting us at olyhistory@gmail.com. Please indicate your intended use of the banner for our records. 

 

 

 

The program is funded with support provided by the Washington State Women’s Commission and the Washington State Historical Society through the Votes for Women Centennial Grant Program. 

 

 

Flyer, Women’s Suffrage Trail in Olympia

See also the following links to learn more about women’s role, and the history of women’s suffrage, in Olympia history:

Women’s Suffrage History in Olympia
Women’s History in Olympia National Register 
Women’s History Walking  Tour
toggle Women’s History theme in Where Are We? interactive map

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The Spotlighters – 7/14/19

Father Eugene Kellenbenz was a renowned liturgical composer and faculty member at St. Martin’s College in Lacey. But he also enjoyed music on the lighter side, and is shown here in 1964 with the Spotlighters, St. Martin’s glee club, who were rehearsing for a concert to honor the Sisters of Providence. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org.

Daily Olympian photo, 1964, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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July 4, 1889 – 7/7/19

On July 4, 1889 the S.S. T.J. Potter and the S.S. Fleetwood, members of Puget Sound’s Mosquito Fleet, steam into the Port of Olympia. The day was a particularly important one in our state’s history. Besides being our nation’s Independence Day, it was on this day that Washington Territory assembled delegates to begin writing a state constitution. Washington officially became a state on November 11 of that year. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

Silas Wray photo, July 4, 1889, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Emiline Himes – 6/30/19

Pioneer Emiline Himes is shown here with her knitting, in this photo taken around 1880. Mrs. Himes was the mother of George Himes, one of the first and most prolific historians of Oregon and Washington Territory. After crossing west on the Oregon Trail, Emiline and her husband settled in what is now Lacey. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

undated photo, probably about 1880, courtesy State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Crosby store – 6/16/19

Nathaniel Crosby III was the son of a sea captain whose family settled in Tumwater in early days. Nathaniel, the central figure in this photo, operated this store for several years. He and his wife Cordelia built the Crosby House in Tumwater, which still exists, one of the few spared when I-5 was built. Crosby was the grandfather of crooner Bing Crosby.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

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Anna Blom – 6/9/19

Anna Blom, a Russian immigrant, opened the Anna Blom Book Shop in 1938 at the current location of Drees. She was a beloved and long-time fixture in downtown Olympia, presiding over the store until 1968. The bookshop still exists, now called Browser’s, on Capitol Way. Anna is pictured here surrounded by some of the thousands of books at the store. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

Daily Olympian photo, 1964, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Capt. Duncan Finch – 6/2/19

Captain Duncan Finch began his sailing profession in New York, then navigated the Horn to California. In about 1868 he arrived in Puget Sound, where he pursued a distinguished career as captain of the wood-burning steamer Eliza Anderson. He is described as a “cold water man,” that is, anti-alcohol, and permitted no alcoholic beverages to be served on vessels he captained.

William Shew photo, around 1875, courtesy State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Jury Selection – 5/26/19

In this photograph from 1963, a blindfolded Mary Hall, Thurston County clerk, selects slips of paper with prospective jurors’ names from a hopper and hands them to Judge Charles Wright. Rosemary Ewer transcribes their names. The process was developed to ensure that jury selection was fair and impartial. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. : Daily Olympian photo, October 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Katherine Musgrove milliner – 5/19/19

This photograph of milliner Katherine Eugley Musgrove is one of a series, taken by Robert Esterly around 1914, of local businesses and their owners. Mrs. Musgrove was one of a handful of female proprietors in downtown Olympia. A milliner is a hat maker, an important trade in days when a woman’s hat defined her status in society. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Robert Esterly photo, circa 1914, courtesy State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Computer Disk – 5/12/19

Phyllis Olsen and Nelson Osborn, students at the Olympia Vocational Technical Institute (now South Puget Sound Community College), fire up a new data storage disk machine. The machine was rented for $244 a month and could store 6 disks for a total of .2 megabytes (for comparison, this digital image is about 12 times that size and storage cost a few pennies) Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

Daily Olympian photo, September 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Mosquito Fleet Messenger – 5/5/19

The Messenger was a member of the Mosquito Fleet of steam-power vessels that plied that waters of Puget Sound. The small stern-wheeler had separate compartments for ladies and gentlemen. In this photo from around the 1880s, she pulls up alongside an unnamed dock.

undated photo, courtesy State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Chambers Cherry Tree – 4/28/19

In 1850, pioneer David Chambers purchased a Black Heart cherry sapling from Oregon-based orchardist Henderson Lewelling and planted it on his homestead, now the site of Panorama retirement community in Lacey. The tree lived to an immense age and size and continued to bear cherries until the 1920s. In this photograph from around 1912, the tree is with members of the Chambers family; the homestead is behind them. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. circa 1912 photo, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Capital City Forging Moves – 4/21/19

 

In August 1963, Capital City Forging was forced to relocate from its site in downtown Olympia, to make way for the establishment of new recreational facilities at Capitol Lake. In this Daily Olympian photo, co-owner John Plantenberg and his crew prepare to move a huge air hammer out of the 43 year old building. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

Daily Olympian photo, August 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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1949 Earthquake – 4/14/19

Sixty years ago, on April 13, Olympia experienced the most destructive earthquake in recent memory. In this photograph taken the following day, hardware store owner Oscar Kincy surveys the damage to his downtown store. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

April 14, 1949 photograph, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Arbor Day at the State Capital Museum – 4/7/19

On a rainy Arbor Day in 1963, Governor Albert Rosellini plants a tree on the grounds of the State Capital Museum. With the governor are museum staffers and naturalist Margaret McKenny. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

Daily Olympian photo, April 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Daffodil Princesses – 3/31/19

The Daffodil Festival has been held in Pierce county annually since the 1930s. Here the 1964 daffodil princesses make a goodwill stop at the Hotel Olympian in downtown Olympia in advance of the event. Daffodil parade entrants from Olympia that year included a 50 foot yacht, and the Lakefair Float, which won a prize for best portraying the theme of the state’s Diamond Jubilee. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. unknown photographer, March 1964, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives. 

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3/10/19 – Artesian Fountain

In this photo from 1963, Olympia native Walt Hamilton fills a jug with artesian water at a fountain on the corner of 4th Avenue and Washington Street. Although he had moved to Yuma, Arizona, he made a point of bringing back the good water whenever he visited his hometown. The fountain was removed several years ago.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Rossell Galbraith O’Brien – 3/17/19

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we bring you this photograph of Rossell Galbraith O’Brien, an Irish immigrant who rose to become a Brigadier General in the Washington National Guard. O’Brien is said to have initiated the custom of standing for the National Anthem. He was a long-time resident of Olympia and served on the City Council for several years. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Isaac Davidson photograph, around 1890, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Harry McElroy – 3/3/19

A young Harry McElroy poses in a studio portrait from around 1865. Harry was the son of Olympia’s first newspaper publisher, Thornton McElroy. Until the early 20th century, it was customary for young boys to be dressed in skirts or dresses until they were “breeched” at around age 3 or 4. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

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Central School with Jesse Mars 2/24/19

Students and teachers line up outside the Central School, located at Union and Washington, in a photo from 1883. Among the students, seated in front, is Jesse Mars, who served as Olympia’s first Black firefighter from the age of 13. The school building still exists, now at the corner of Adams and Union. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

A.D. Rogers Photo, 1883, State Library collection, Washington State Archives

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Seamart – 2/17/19

The Seamart store was a sprawling complex in the Port of Olympia that featured everything from groceries to amusement rides. In this undated photo, likely from the 1970s, a manager proudly displays the produce section of the store. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Merle Junk photo, Susan Parish collection, Washington  State Archives

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ZIP code introduced – 2/10/19

The ZIP code was introduced in 1963, to facilitate sorting and delivering United States mail. In this publicity photo, Thurston County resident Carol Bjorklund demonstrates the correct use of the ZIP on an oversized envelope.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Ben Helle

Ben Helle is an archivist with Washington State Archives (Office of the Secretary of the State), having previously served as Government Records Archivist for the Ohio Historical Society. He received his BA with an emphasis in anthropology from Ohio State University, Columbus, in 1993 and has worked in the archives field since 1995. He has been a member of the Olympia Heritage Commission since 2013. He brings not only his extensive archives and historical research experience to the board, but also a keen interest in local history.

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Charles Roe

Charlie Roe is an honored local attorney who pioneered the practice area of environmental-resource law beginning when he joined the Washington State Attorney General’s Office in 1960.  Among his many accomplishments was to head the office’s Environmental Protection division (and under other titles) for nearly a quarter-century.

Graduating from Tacoma’s Stadium High School in 1949, Charlie received a BA in history from the University of Puget Sound (UPS).  While pursuing a Master’s degree in Washington State history at UPS, he was called to active duty in 1954 for three years with the U.S. Air Force.  In 1957, he attended the Boalt Hall School of Law at U.C. Berkeley for one year and completed his law degree at the University of Washington (UW) Law School in 1960.

In 1990 Charlie retired from the Attorney General’s Office and joined the Olympia office of Perkins Coie, a large Seattle-based international law firm, where he continued to practice environmental and water resource law until 2008.  Still not completely retired, Charlie continues to represent several longtime clients.

Charlie has also been an educator.  Over the years he taught at The Evergreen State College (1974) and the law schools at UPS (1985-1990) and Gonzaga University (1973-1977), and supervised the Sea Grant Program of the UW Law School (1970-1972).  Both the American Bar Association and the Washington State Bar Association have honored him for establishing continuing education programs, especially in environmental and water issues, and for chairing sections of both organizations.  Over the years, he was a consultant on water policy to the federal National Water Commission (1970-1972), as well as serving in all three branches of state government: (1) Assistant Director of Ecology (1967-1969); (2) Counsel to the Natural Resources Committee, Washington State House of Representatives (1970); and (3) Referee, Stevens County Superior Court (1968).

In 1990 the Washington State Legislature passed a resolution commending Charlie for drafting and pursuing to enactment many environmental protection laws, especially during the 60s and 70s.  Since 1998 he has served of the board of the Washington Courts Historical Society.

Charlie and Marilyn, his wife of 60 years, have two daughters: Sharon, who heads a consulting firm in St. Andrews, Scotland; and Jeannine, a long-time State Senate staffer, who has served on the Olympia City Council since 2009.

Charlie’s great-great-grandfather, Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, served on term in the Territorial Legislature and was elected twice as Mayor of Olympia in the 1880s.

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2/3/19 – Dedication of End of Oregon Trail Monument

A group of men, women, and children gather around the End of the Oregon Trail monument, in Sylvester Park, at its dedication in 1913. The bearded gentleman at the right of the image is Ezra Meeker, who helped to publicize and celebrate the significance of the Oregon Trail. Governor Lister is in the center. The monument was installed by the Sacajawea Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Collier, 1913, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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1/27/19 – Grand Mound Oregon Trail dedication

A group of local citizens, pioneer descendants, and historians pose for their photograph at the 1916 dedication of the Oregon Trail Monument in Grand Mound. The monument, shown draped in a U.S. flag, was one of several erected by the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution to commemorate the historic mass migration.  The monument still exists, on Old Highway 99.

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1/20/19 – Fallout Shelter practice

Threats of nuclear fallout were much on the public’s mind in the early 1960s. Here, youngsters Doug Drew and Donald Collins pose for their photo, having demonstrated they could survive a week in a simulated fallout shelter (with their parents’ permission and periodic contributions of food). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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1/13/19 – Legislative Page uniforms

Legislative pages Tom Harris and Pascual Pellizzia model page uniforms from the present (1963) and past. The older uniforms had recently been discovered at the State Capital Museum. With the boys are their legislative sponsors Harry Lewis and Charles Savage. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

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Benjamin Hartsuck – 1/6/19

Benjamin Hartsuck was the first architect registered in Olympia. His most lasting contribution was as supervising architect for the Old State Capitol building, now the Superintendent of Public Instruction building in downtown Olympia. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

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Andy Crow – 12/30/18

A young Andy Crow repairs pipes of the Wurlitzer organ at the Olympic movie theater, in this 1963 photograph. When the theater was headed for demolition, Crow bought and restored the magnificent organ, which was then re-installed at the same site, now the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. The renamed Andy Crow Wurlitzer continues to delight audiences with performances at regular silent movie showings. Crow died in 2016. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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SS Nisqually – 12/23/18

The S.S. Nisqually, a member of the Mosquito Fleet, steams along Puget Sound. The Mosquito Fleet is the name given to the dozens of small steamers that plied the waters of the Sound in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

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Proffitt’s – 12/16/18

The Proffitt’s Department store was a fixture of downtown Olympia for many years. The building is now the site of the New Caldonia mini-mall on Fifth Avenue. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. May 1970, unknown photographer, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

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Frederick J.X. Miller – 12/2/18

Frederick J.X. Miller, shown here, was a prolific Thurston County writer and poet. He and his sisters donated the family property to the State of Washington provided it be maintained as a park, now Millersylvania State Park. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Julius Asher photo, about 1880, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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View from the Westside – 11/19/18

In this photograph from around 1904, we are looking across the Fourth Avenue Bridge towards downtown Olympia, from the Westside. Visible buildings that still exist include the Old State Capitol Building (now Superintendent of Public Instruction), with its clock tower still intact; and the Iverson and Overhulse homes in foreground left. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. 

C.S. Reeves photo, around 1904, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Jack Gimblet’s boxer – 11/4/18

Early Olympia saloon keeper Jack Gimblet had this professional photograph taken of his handsome boxer “Jerry” in this image from around the turn of the century.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. 

unknown photographer, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Sam McClellan – 10/21/18

Sam McClellan (or McClelland) was a businessman and chief of the Olympia Fire Department. He poses here in his uniform in a photograph from the late 1800s. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Frank Camps photograph, undated, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Roe sisters – 10/14/18

The two Roe sisters Jeannine and Sharon, along with their mother and an instructor, Mrs. Carl Neal, have fun with hand-made puppets as part of Olympia’s 1963 summer activity program. One of the sisters, Jeannine, later served on the Olympia City Council. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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James Spirlock – 10/7/18

James T. Spirlock arrived in Thurston County in 1858, and settled in the Mima Mounds area. His property, now the Nelson Ranch, has been in the family ever since and is being farmed by the fourth and fifth generations of his descendants. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Courtesy Washington State Historical Society. For additional links about James Spirlock, see our Residents page and scroll to Spirlock. 

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Sun Wo – 9/23/18

Olympia photographer Ida Smith capture this photograph of Chinese entrepreneur Sun Wo in traditional garb in about 1890-1910. Chinese merchants were an important element of commerce in the 19th and early 20th century. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

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Kenney family at Woodland Hotel

In this undated photograph, members of the Kenney family proudly pose in front of the Woodland Hotel that they operated. Woodland was the original name for the community that is now the City of Lacey, and the hotel was located at a key intersection near the current location of the Lacey Post Office. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 8/26/18

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Welcoming Pole at State Capital Museum – 9/9/18

In 1963 a welcoming pole was created for the State Capital Museum at the Lord Mansion that replicated the poles at the entrance to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The poles were designed by famed architect Fred Bassetti. Only a small portion of the pole still exists, deteriorating on the grounds of the mansion. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Port of Olympia in 1910 – 9/2/18

This photograph by Asahel Curtis shows members of the Mosquito Fleet approaching Percival Landing at the Port of Olympia on an overcast day in 1910. The Sand Man tug is at the left, near the same location you can find it today. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. 

Asahel Curtis photograph, 1910, Washington State Historical Society

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Bulletin – 9/1/18

September 1, 2018

Fall is just around the corner, bringing with it changing colors and fascinating History events! Today, we note with sadness the sudden death of accomplished area historian and writer John Hough while on vacation in South Africa. John was a past president and board member of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, and recently co-wrote “Maritime Olympia and South Puget Sound” with Les Eldridge, documenting the South Sound’s evolution to an important international seaport. Mr. Hough’s detailed obituary may be viewed online at https://funeralalternatives.org/, a full clickable link is included at the bottom of this bulletin, just below the orange box. A memorial service will be held at South Puget Sound Community College on September 15 at 2:00 PM. To hear John discuss some of the early maritime history of the Olympia area and the famed Mosquito Fleet, visit “Now Where Were We” on Youtube. See the clickable link to the video at the bottom of the bulletin.

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* September 4, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM. Harbor History Museum (Gig Harbor): Gig Harbor Literary Society Discusses “Sarah Canary”.

When black-cloaked Sarah Canary wandered into a railway camp in the Washington territories in 1873, she had no notion of the adventures she was about to face, including being referred to as “The ugliest woman imaginable” and a period of commitment to a local insane asylum. Join the Gig harbor Literary Society for a fascinating discussion of this engaging work. Attendees are welcome to bring an appetizer or dish to share with fellow bibliophiles. The Museum will provide complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. You are welcome to BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine). Library and Museum staff will lead the discussion. This event is FREE and open to the public. Seats are limited; RSVPs are encouraged. To RSVP or for questions, please contact Zachary Sokolik, Marketing & Events Coordinator, at marketing@harborhistorymuseum.org or 253-858-6722. The Harbor History Museum is located at 4121 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor.

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* September 7, 7:30 PM. Schneebeck Concert Hall (Tacoma): Jacobsen Series – Bernstein 100.

Famed conductor Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday was August 25, 2018. Celebrating Bernstein’s legacy as a composer, conductor, and intellectual, Anna Wittstruck will emcee an evening of classical music, jazz, and Broadway. Featuring soloists Maria Sampen, violin; Dawn Padula, mezzo-soprano; Tanya Stambuk, piano; Tracy Knoop, saxophone/clarinet; and other faculty and student performers. Established in 1984, the Jacobsen Series celebrates faculty and guest talent in a variety of performances held at Schneebeck Concert Hall. The Schneebeck Concert Hall is located on the campus of the University of Puget Sound, 1567-1625 N Union Ave, Tacoma.

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* September 8, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Olympia Timberland Library (Olympia): Beginning Genealogy Workshop.

Olympia Genealogical Society members will help workshop participants gain the skills they need to begin their family history research. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop if they have one, and a lunch for the 30-minute break. Check in at 9:00 AM, before the library opens, at the 9th and Adams Exit Only doors to the library. Registration is required and walk-ins will not be accepted. Register online, at http://www.olygensoc.org/, in person, or by phone at 360-352-0595. The Olympia Timberland Library is located at 313 8th Ave SE, Olympia.

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* September 8, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum (Tacoma): Harvest Home Festival.

Join the Living History Museum to celebrate the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn at their Harvest Home festival! The day will include popular Victorian games, traditional music and dance performances, and the arrival of the hock cart carrying the last sheaf of wheat through the fort to the granary. Everyone is welcome to come down and press cider, make a corn dolly, and help us send off summer 19th century style. For more information visit fortnisqually.org or call (253) 404-3970. The Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is located at 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma.

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* September 8, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM. Chehalis Timberland Library (Chehalis): Tales from the Parks – Author Talk with Russell Cahill.

The National Park Service celebrated their 100th birthday in 2016, but the origin of America’s parks goes all the way back to the Civil War and beyond. Author Russell Cahill thinks it started when a single tree was cut down in California in 1852. Cahill was a National Park Ranger during the 1960’s and 1970’s and has written on the origins of our parks and his adventures in Yosemite, Alaska, Washington D.C. and Hawai’i. Join him and hear of rescues, forest fires, bears breaking into a five star hotel and other happenings. Books will be available for purchase and signing. The Chehalis Timberland Library is located at 400 N. Market Blvd, Chehalis.

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* September 8, 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM. Asia Pacific Cultural Center (Tacoma): We Are History Keepers – Tacoma!

We Are History Keepers – Tacoma! is a free daylong workshop on preserving the historical and cultural record of your family and community – a program brought to you by the Ethnic Heritage Council, the University of Washington Libraries, and the Washington State Historical Society. Sessions will include: small group instruction on sorting and preserving papers and records of your family and cultural organizations; creating exhibits; organizing and preserving your photo collections; conducting oral histories; cultural preservation through storytelling; and more! Library, archives, and museum professionals from the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, UW Tacoma Library, and the Washington State Historical Society will lead the program. The Asia Pacific Cultural Center will serve a delicious lunch of Asian Pacific foods for a $15 cash donation per person. Reserve lunch and indicate vegetarian, if required, when you RSVP to: rsvp@ethnicheritagecouncil.org. Participants are also invited to share a completed history project or work in progress. If you or your youth have a visual display to exhibit, please let us know when you RSVP for the event. We Are History Keepers! is co-created by the Ethnic Heritage Council and the University of Washington Libraries. Tacoma History Keepers! is funded in part by the Washington State Historical Society, the Heritage League of Pierce County and 4 Culture. The Asia Pacific Cultural Center is located at 4851 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma.

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* September 9, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM. Tumwater Historic District (Tumwater): Voices from the Past.

On Sunday, September 9, three talented living history reenactors will give performances at period homes located in Tumwater’s Historic District. Staggered start times will allow the public to hear all three presentations. Beginning at Schmidt House at 1:00 PM, storyteller Kristin Alana will portray Rebecca Groundage Howard, an African-American woman who operated the Pacific House, a restaurant and hotel in Olympia in the 1860’s and ‘70’s. At 2:00 PM, reenactor Karen Haas will visit Crosby House to portray Norwegian immigrant Thea Foss, who in 1912 bought a used rowboat in Tacoma and built a maritime empire on Puget Sound. At 2:45 PM at Henderson House, long-time reenactor Ray Egan will portray one of his favorite historic personalities, Ezra Meeker. Meeker’s reminiscence begins with his first experiences working with oxen, and continues with a discussion of what oxen are and are not, and why they were vitally important on the Oregon Trail. All three Houses will be open for tours before and after the performances. Schmidt House is located at 330 Schmidt Place SW, Crosby House is located at 702 Deschutes Way SW, and Henderson House is located at 602 Deschutes Way SW, all in Tumwater. For more information, contact Karen Johnson at karen@olytumfoundation.org or 360-890-2299.

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* September 10, 7:00 PM. Tacoma Historical Society (Tacoma): Some Mid Life History of Tacoma Rail.

Join the Tacoma Historical Society for their first monthly meeting of the fall, and hear local railroad historian, photographer, and author of multiple articles on railroading David Cantlinas discuss the history of rail in the Tacoma area. Admission is free and all are welcome! This event will take place at the Murray Board Room of the Wheelock Student Center, University of Puget Sound, located at 1500 N Warner St, Tacoma.

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* September 13, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. Schmidt House (Tumwater): The Darker Side of Tumwater’s History.

Olympia Tumwater Foundation’s Public History Manager Don Trosper will begin a new season of History Talks at Schmidt House with an illustrated talk highlighting the darker side of Tumwater’s history. Learn how newspapers of the day reported on murder, political intrigue, scandal, immorality, tragedy, racism, conflict, and Trosper’s personal favorite, “Strange Events.” Schmidt House is located at 330 Schmidt Place SW, Tumwater.

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* September 13, 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM. Lacey Timberland Library (Lacey): Antiquated Technologies Series – Moving Pictures with Devon Damonte.

Witness a plethora of 16mm & 35mm movie viewing and projecting apparatus, including a running upright Moviola editing machine once used by film director Hal Ashby (Being There, Harold & Maude, etc). Help celebrate Devon’s latest acquisition: a Tagarno 35mm medical viewer that plays both in high speed and in super slow motion. These technologies have withstood the test of time – what other media format has remained playable for over 100 years? This program is part of the Antiquated Technologies series and is sponsored by the Friends of the Lacey Library. The Lacey Timberland Library is located at 500 College St SE, Lacey.

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St. Peter introduces television in rooms – 8/26/18

In 1963, St. Peter Hospital, then located in West Olympia, introduced the opportunity for patients to have televisions in their rooms. Here, Mrs. Herb (Shirley) Legg, a volunteer at the hospital, demonstrates its use to a grateful patient. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit the Society’s Looking Back page, https://olympiahistory.org/category/lookingback/. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1963, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Plaque dedication – 8/19/18

In 1913, a group of Olympia citizens, many of them early pioneers, gathered to dedicate a plaque at the site of the first Washington Territorial Assembly. This plaque is still in existence, in front of the Bread Peddler at 222 Capitol Way N, in the port area. The site is one of the most important in our community’s and territory’s history. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

unknown photographer, 1913, Washington State Historical Society

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5th Avenue Dam Construction – 8/12/18

Few landmarks still exist to identify this August 1949 scene as the future site of the 5th Avenue dam and bridge. This photograph was taken as construction was getting under way. In the distance we can just make out the Governor Hotel, the Dolliver Building, and the Security Building. We can also see the smokestack of the Memorial Clinic building that was demolished in 2015. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Merle Junk photograph, 1949, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

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August 1909 special session – 8/5/18

In 1909, a special summer session of the Legislature was called, resulting in Session lasting until mid-August. A group of young women, all legislative clerks, posed for a group photo in Governor Hays’s automobile, still a relative rarity in Olympia. Behind them are the Old State Capitol Building, now the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Reed Building. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

unknown photographer, 1909, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Lower Capitol Way – 7/29/18

The Port of Olympia was the hub of commercial activity in Olympia’s earliest decades. By 1910, when this photograph was taken, it was in decline: even the Red Light District had moved elsewhere. The old Bettman store is at foreground left, with the New England Hotel to its right, now the site of the 222 shopping and dining complex. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

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Earl Bean in 1963 – 7/22/18

Earl Bean came here from Russia in 1892 and joined his father Joseph in the scrap metal business. He parlayed this into hardware store Olympia Supply on the shore of Capitol Lake, still part of the Bean family. In the 1930s Earl Bean was one of the founders of Temple Beth Hatfiloh. In this photo from 1963, Earl looks back on his distinguished career. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1953, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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View from Old State Capitol – 7/15/18

This photograph was taken about 1900 from the Old State Capitol Building (now Superintendent of Public Instruction). Dominating the image is the Olympia Hotel, which burned down in 1904. Other identifiable buildings include the Sylvester Mansion and steepled St. Michael Parish. The home in the foreground belonged to Mitchel Harris. It still exists, but was moved to the southeast corner of 9th and Adams. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

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Natalie Riggin – 7/8/18

Natalie Riggin won Second Grand Prize in the national Pillsbury Bakeoff contest in 1956, when she was only a teenager. Her Hoot Owl cookies are still included in compilations of best cookie recipes of all time. Natalie was later Lakefair Queen in 1962, the third young woman to earn that title. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Here’s a link to the recipe: https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/hoot-owl-cookies/

Daily Olympian photo, 1956, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Trena Belsito Worthington with the Rosellinis – 6/17/18

Olympia attorney Trena Belsito Worthington, at left, confers with Governor Albert and First Lady Ethel Rosellini as they barbecue a fish on Capitol Campus. In addition to being a successful lawyer, in an age where female attorneys were rare, Mrs. Worthington was responsible for the design and construction of five nearly identical homes in southeast Olympia and along Capitol Lake.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information about Mrs. Worthington is available at olympiahistory.org in our Residents feature, under her maiden name Trena Selvidge. 

Daily Olympian photo, late 1950s, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Fish at City Hall – 5/27/18

In this Daily Olympian photo from summer 1966, Olympia city staffers stock the water feature at the new City Hall with fish. Since the “moat” was never intended as a fish pond, all the fish died shortly thereafter. This building complex is now the Lee Creighton Justice Center. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1966, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Tumwater Long Bridge – 5/20/18

In this early photograph from about 1880, we see the Tumwater Long Bridge spanning the Deschutes Estuary. The homes and businesses of Tumwater are in the background; they succumbed to I-5 construction in the 1960s. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

State Capital Museum collection, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Knights of Pythias Parade – 5/13/18

In June of 1894, during the “golden age of fraternalism” in America, members of the Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias parade up a rain- and mud-soaked Capitol Way in Olympia. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org. 

William Duckering photo, 1894, Washington State Historical Society

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1965 Earthquake – 4/29/18

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit the Pacific Northwest on April 29, 1965, causing 7 deaths and millions of dollars of damage. In this photograph from the Daily Olympian, a postal worker at the brand-new Olympia post office examines the havoc wreaked by the quake. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photograph, April 1965, State Capital Museum Collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Olympia Voc Tech – 4/22/18


Olympia Vocational Technical Institute student Kent Loomey demonstrates a cathode ray oscilloscope in this photograph from 1963. The Institute (later South Puget Sound Community College) was located in the former Montgomery Ward Building in downtown Olympia. The Institute held an open house to familiarize citizens with the new school, and to publicize the fact that it was no longer the place for residents to place their mail-order catalogue orders. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photograph, 1963, State Capital Museum Collection, Washington State Historical Society

 

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Millersylvania CCC – 4/15/18

During the Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps hired thousands of young men and put them to work building and improving public amenities. CCC members were responsible for building many of the structures still in place at Millersylvania State Park, outside of Olympia. In this photo, a group of young men are hard at work building one of the kitchen shelters at the park. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. 

circa 1935 photograph, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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John Montgomery – 4/8/18

In this Daily Olympian photograph from 1966, Washington State Archivist Sid McAlpin puzzles over a jar of ashes of a person identified only as John Montgomery. No one knew who he was or why his ashes were at Archives. In 2014, genealogists identified the ashes as belonging to a 6 year old, and the ashes were then buried with John’s father. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. Daily Olympian photograph, 1966, State Capital Museum Collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Anna and Maggie – 3/25/18

This sweet photograph from around 1870 commemorates the teenaged friendship of early Olympia residents Anna Pullen and Maggie Sutton. Anna later married printer Martin Kelly and Maggie became a teacher in Tumwater. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. 

circa 1870 photograph, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Peace Pilgrim – 3/18/18

Peace Pilgrim, born Mildred Lisette Norman, was an American non-denominational spiritual teacher and peace activist. Starting on January 1, 1953, in Pasadena, California, she adopted the name “Peace Pilgrim” and walked across the United States for 28 years, advocating for world peace. She’s shown here in 1966, walking by the Daily Olympian building at State and Capitol (now the Olympia Press Building). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photograph, 1966, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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St. Peter Hospital – Sherman St

By the 1920s, St. Peter Hospital had outgrown its original location on what’s now Capitol Campus. The large structure shown here, in West Olympia on Sherman Street, was completed in 1924, and included a nursing school and modern X-ray equipment. In this 1952 photograph, a nurse and Sister of Providence attend a patient. The building is now an apartment complex. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org. 1952 photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives 

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St. Peter Hospital – 3/4/18

St. Peter Hospital was founded by the Sisters of Charity of the House of Providence in 1887, and served the needs of area residents, including many injured loggers. Its original location, on what’s now Capitol Campus, is marked by a plaque across from the current Department of Enterprise Services (GA) building. The hospital has moved twice since then. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. A.D. Rogers Photograph, 1895, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

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Star Laundry – 2/25/18

This photograph of the jovial proprietors of the Star Laundry is one of a series, by photographer Robert Esterly, of local businesspeople. Located on Capitol Way in the bustling Port area, Star Laundry catered to the needs of itinerant sailors and merchants. It existed until the 1960s, eventually growing to take up the large masonry building that is now the home of Lassen Electric. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Esterly Photograph, 1914, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Dr. Lucie Cook

This photograph of Doctor Lucie Cook and her child is one of a series of local businesses and their owners taken by photographer Robert Esterly. Dr. Cook’s office was located in the Port area. Her patients were mostly female, and she is known to have ministered to some of the less fortunate members of Olympia society.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Esterly Photograph, 1914, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Roger Easton pen pal – 2/11/18

Roger Easton, a teacher at Mountain View Elementary in Lacey, initiated an international pen pal program between his students and children from around the world. In addition to sending letters, the children exchanged audiotapes. Easton was also an avid local historian; at his untimely death he bequeathed his estate to the Olympia Historical Society and the Bigelow House Preservation Association. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photo, 1966, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Olympia Opera House – 2/4/18

Publisher John Miller Murphy built the Olympia Opera House on Fourth Avenue, about where Orca Books is now. As this photograph from 1890 shows, a trolley line ran by the theater, providing easy access to all classes of Olympia society. Over its 30 years of existence some of the biggest national names played here, including John Phillips Sousa, Mark Twain, and others, as well as numerous local performers. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. 

unknown photographer, 1890, State Library Collection

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Street vendor – 1/28/18

Photographer Robert Esterly took this photograph of an unnamed street vendor in 1914, as part of his series of local businesses and their proprietors. The photo was taken at the corner of 4th and Washington. The Boardman Building, still in existence, is behind the vendor at the northwest corner.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Esterly Photograph, 1914, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Ray Theater – 1/21/18

In the heyday of the motion picture industry, downtown Olympia had several movie theaters. The Zabel family owned several of them. This one, the Ray, was located at the corner of 5th and Washington, at the current site of the Timberland Bank. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Esterly Photograph, 1914, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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District heating stack dismantled – 1/14/18

In the early 20th century, veneer plants in the Port of Olympia supplied surplus heat to a central plant that distributed steam heating to the area through underground pipes. The steam plant building is still in existence on Thurston Avenue. But this 1966 photograph from the Daily Olympian shows the dismantling of the plant’s smokestack, after the veneer plants were all shuttered. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

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City Hall in 1966 – 1/7/18

The “O” shaped Olympia City Hall building, now the Lee Creighton Justice Center on Plum Street, was part of Olympia’s “Committee of the 60s” effort to improve the infrastructure of the city. It was touted nation-wide as a model of good design, architectural innovation and space planning. This photograph was taken in early 1966 when the building was brand-new, just before architect Robert Wohleb’s untimely death. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. Ron Allen photograph, March 1966, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives 

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Olympia Veneer – 12/31/17

The Olympia Veneer Company was founded in 1921 as a revolutionary example of a cooperative company, owned by its workers. Located at the far northern tip of the port area, it also developed techniques that were soon copied by other manufacturers. The mill employed many Scandinavian immigrants who had come to this area in the early 20th century. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

1946 photo by Merle Junk, Susan Parish collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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“Cheery” Street – 12/24/17

Did a sign painter have Christmas on his mind when he misspelled Cherry Street as Cheery Street? An astute Daily Olympian photographer caught the “typo” in time to print it in a December paper from 1962. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Daily Olympian photograph, December 1962, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

 

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Pool Hall and Taylor Music – 12/17/17

The proprietors of a pool hall pose for their photograph in this photograph from late 1914. A sign in the window of the adjacent E.E. Taylor Music Store asks, Will there Be a Victrola In your Home this Christmas?  The establishments were located at the current site of the Ward Building on Fourth Avenue (see last week’s Looking Back for a photograph of that building). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Esterly Photograph, 1914, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Montgomery Ward Building – 12/10/17

The Montgomery Ward Building was erected in 1928 on Fourth Avenue. Ward’s was a department store and catalogue retailer. The building was repurposed in the early 1960s to serve as the first home of the Olympia Regional Vocational Technical Institute (now South Puget Sound Community College). It has since been occupied by retail and entertainment venues. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers photo, 1938, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Abandoned Territorial Capitol in snow – 12/3/17

This photograph from December 1911 shows the abandoned Washington Territorial Capitol in the snow. The structure was eventually razed when Capitol Campus was created a few years later. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org. 

1911 photograph, Washington State Archives

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Methodist Church in 1890s – 11/12/17

First United Methodist Church is among Olympia’s earliest congregations. Here we see the original church structure, built 1856, at the corner of Fourth and Adams. The congregation outgrew this structure and acquired an adjacent lot on Fifth Avenue. The newer building, erected in 1894, can be seen in the background of this image. This allows us to date the photograph to between 1894 and 1896, when the Cunningham’s Building now at this site was erected. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Unknown photographer, 1894-1896, Susan Parish collection, Washington State Archives

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Dick Nichols arrives at KGY – 11/5/17

A young Dick Nichols is welcomed to radio station KGY in 1964. He soon became the beloved Voice of South Puget Sound sports. He served as the station’s announcer for 40 years. His stay at KGY ran concurrently with two terms as Thurston County commissioner, among other occupations. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Susan Parish collection, Washington State Archives 

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Fourth Avenue – 10/22/17

In this 1906 photograph of Fourth Avenue in downtown Olympia, we can see some familiar buildings, and some that are no longer with us. At the left is the three-story Mottman Building at the northwest corner of Fourth and Capitol, and across from it on the northeast corner is the Chambers Block. Both still exist and are on the heritage register. The large masonry structure on the southwest corner was demolished after the 1949 Earthquake. The building in the distance, with the cupola, is Columbia Hall, now the site of the 4th Ave Tav. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org.

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Furgison collection

Krystalyn Furgison’s father-in-law was given a collection of 39 glass plate negatives, mostly depicting Olympia area residents from around the turn of the 20th century. Ms. Furgison has meticulously researched the photographs and agreed to share them with the Society and Museum’s website. Following is a PDF containing the results of Ms. Furgison’s research. Individual glass negatives will also be found in the Residents section of our website, to the extent they can be identified. Thank you to Ms. Furgison for agreeing to share her research with us! 

Glass Negatives in Furgison collection

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Columbus Day Storm – 10/15/17

The Columbus Day Storm, on October 12, 1962, is considered the most powerful extratropical storm in history. This Daily Olympian photograph, taken at Capitol Lake the day following the storm, shows some of the devastation, which included thousands of uprooted trees and much destruction of property. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. Daily Olympian Photograph, October 1962, State Capitol Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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McElroy House – 10/8/17

Thornton McElroy was the colorful publisher of Olympia’s first newspaper, the Columbian, whose fiery editorials were in part responsible for the creation of Washington as a territory independent of Oregon. His stately home was at the corner of Sylvester Park, at 7th and Washington. His son, Harry, was a local merchant and lived in this house until well into the 1930s. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Vibert Jeffers, undated, Susan Parish collection, Washington State Archives

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B’nai Brith meeting – 10/1/17

The Jewish communities of Centralia, Chehalis, Aberdeen, and Elma formed a chapter of the B’nai B’rith in the early 1900s. In this photograph from 1934, the group is meeting in the Masonic Temple, then located at 8th and Capitol in Olympia. Olympia’s Temple Beth Hatfiloh was formed just a few years later, in 1937. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Vibert Jeffers, 1934, Susan Parish collection, Washington State Archives

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Thelma Freitag – 9/24/17

Amateur theatrics were and are a popular source of local entertainment in Olympia, even after the advent of moving pictures. In this photo from about 1925, a young Thelma Freitag poses in an exotic costume as publicity for an upcoming production. Her father, Louis, was a musician. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. State Capital Museum collection photograph, about 1925, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Olympia band – 9/17/17

In the days before radio and television, home-grown entertainment was an important component of Olympia society. Here a small band poses solemnly for their studio portrait, in about 1885. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. Photo courtesy Washington State Historical Society. 

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Civil Defense – 9/10/17

Civil defense was an ever-present concern in the Cold War era. Here a group of Washington Junior High students, in 1962, is led through an exercise involving the evacuation of their school and a walk to Capitol Campus where they would be expected to seek safety in the event of an attack (the school was located in what is now the Knox Administration Building on Legion Way). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photograph, 1962, State Capital Museum Collection, Washington State Historical Society

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M.M. Morris store – 9/3/17

The M.M. Morris store was a fashionable women’s wear shop in downtown Olympia for many years. It stood at the corner of 5th Avenue and Washington Street in the historic Martin Building (the current site of the Captain Little toy store). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Vibert Jeffers, 1950, Susan Parish collection, Washington State Archives

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Columbia Hall – 8/27/17

The Columbia Hall was built in 1869 on Fourth Avenue near the center of downtown Olympia (the current site of the 4th Ave Tav). It served a myriad of functions: fire station on the ground floor, city offices above, entertainment hall (it hosted the state’s first inaugural ball in 1889), police headquarters, courthouse, and theater. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

1902, Williams Romans photograph, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Knox Apartments – 8/6/17

Clara Knox built the Knox Apartments and Hotel in the early 20th century. It was located on Washington Street, adjacent to the then-Thurston County Courthouse, now the location of the State Theater. The building lasted until at least the 1940s. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Merle Junk photo, 1945, Susan Parish collection, Washington State Archives 

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Brown Farm – 7/30/17

In 1913, Asahel Curtis took a series of photographs of the A.L. Brown Farm, in the Nisqually Valley, now part of the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge. This photograph of a harvest portrays a bucolic lifestyle that would not last much longer into the 20th century. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Asahel Curtis photograph, 1913, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Greetings from the Westside – 7/23/17

A view of Olympia from the Westside shows the tidy Konrad Schneider farmhouse in the foreground. In the distance, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens loom over Budd Inlet, the Fourth Avenue Bridge and downtown Olympia. The mountains are misplaced northwards. Artist Edward Lange was known for his minute attention to detail, sometimes offset by artistic embellishments. Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

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Olympia Hotel – 7/16/17

In the 1880s, it became apparent that Olympia was in urgent need of a hotel that could accommodate the numbers of legislators, lobbyists and hangers-on that appeared on a regular basis during legislative sessions. A number of prominent citizens raised the funds to build the grand Victorian-style Olympia Hotel, at 8th and Capitol. Sadly, it burned in a spectacular fire in 1904. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. ca. 1890 photograph, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Legislative Building TP’ed – 6/25/17

In the summer of 1966, staff arrived at the Legislative Building to find that the Rotunda had been “TP’ed.” The culprit was never found. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

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Dick Nichols at KGY – 7/2/17

A young Dick Nichols is welcomed to radio station KGY in 1964. He soon became the beloved Voice of South Puget Sound sports. He served as the station’s announcer for 40 years. His stay at KGY ran concurrently with two terms as Thurston County commissioner, among other jobs. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

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Anti-Saloon League Boat Club – 6/18/17

Five young women from prominent Olympia families pose in their club uniforms, holding oars aloft. Their straw hats, adorned with A.S.L. insignia, identify them as members of the Anti-Saloon League Boat Club, a temperance organization. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

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McAllister sisters moving – 6/11/17

Sisters Pauline McAllister McBride and Ruby McAllister stand outside their home in the Nisqually Valley, where their family had lived for generations. They had been given a 30 day notice to vacate their house so that Interstate 5 could be built through their property. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photograph, June 1966,  State Capital Museum Collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Liberty Theater – 6/4/17

The Liberty Theater was built around 1924 by the Reed-Ingham Company, which was owned by Thomas M. Reed and his brother-in-law Paul Ingham. It was located at the current site of the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, on Washington Street near Legion Way. The Liberty was one of many theaters located in downtown Olympia at the time, including the Rex, the Ray, the Capitol Theater, the Avalon, and others. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.Vibert Jeffers, 1941, Susan Parish collection, Washington State Archives 

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Ernie Taylor Music Store – 5/28/17

Ernie Taylor was a popular musician in late 19th and early 20th century Olympia, leading and playing in several bands and orchestras. He owned the E.E. Taylor music store, shown here, at the current location of the Gyro Spot on 4th Avenue (the Ward Building). Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Robert Esterly photograph, around 1914, State Capital Museum Collection, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Teddy Roosevelt visits Sylvester Park

President Theodore Roosevelt visited Olympia as part of a swing through the western states in May 1903. Here he addresses a large crowd in Sylvester Park, in front of the then-Washington State Capitol building (now the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum (cropped).

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J.E. Kelley – 5/14/17

Pamela Case Hale built the Hale Block at 502 4th Avenue in 1891, during a time of great prosperity for Olympia. In the early 20th century this building was the location of the J.E. Kelley Furniture store. The name J.E. Kelley remains incised into the sidewalk in front of the building, which is now the home of Olympia Fireplace and Spa. This photograph is part of a 1914 series, by photographer Robert Esterly, of local businesses and their owners. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Robert Esterly photograph, around 1914,  State Capital Museum Collection, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Street “typo” – 5/7/17

The Daily Olympian advised a sign painter to go back to class after misspelling the word School at a city intersection.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Daily Olympian photograph, October 1962, State Capital Museum Collection, Washington State Historical Society 

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Lynda in miniskirt – 4/30/17

In 1962, the Olympia Blueprint and Copy Company experienced a sharp uptick in customers when employee Linda Burkey began wearing a mid-thigh length dress to work, which her mother had created for her. Shorter hemlines had just started to appear on the fashion scene. Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photograph, 1962, Washington State Historical Society State Capital Museum collection

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Pacific House – 4/23/17

The Pacific House was one of the earliest hotel/restaurants in Olympia, at the corner of what is now State Avenue and Capitol Way. In 1859, African-American Rebecca Groundage Howard took over its management and soon became famous all over the northwest for her hospitality and good food. In this photo from 1902, the building is in decline. Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

William Romans photograph, 1902, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Rockway Leland Building – 4/16/17

The Rockway-Leland Building was built in two stages between 1921 and 1941, the later portion in an Art Moderne style designed by Joseph Wohleb.The building was the home of Olympia Oil and Wood Products, and was named after the company’s owner and manager. The building was also once the home of Olympia’s first radio station, KGY. Studios on the second floor are acoustically perfect, and still the home of a local radio station. It once sported a 150 foot tall tower on the roof, visible in this photo from about 1941. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.Vibert Jeffers photograph, around 1941, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

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Gift of Capitol Lake – 4/9/17

In 1962, Sacramento, California’s Camelia Queen Carole Cottrell visited Olympia, Sacramento’s sister city. Bert Cole, State Land Commissioner and Jim Leader, Olympia’s Ambassador of Friendship, presented Carole with a deed to Capitol Lake, provided she could carry it away with her. Shortly after, several Sacramento citizens arrived and were presented with jars of water from the lake to take home with them. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. 

Daily Olympian photograph, June 1962, State Capital Museum Collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Blankenship, Georgiana, Old Olympia Landmarks

Old Olympia Landmarks

By Georgiana Blankenship

From Washington State Library manuscript collection MS0037

Transcribed by Deborah Ross

Transcriber’s Note: Double spaced, typed article, undated but probably around 1927 or 1928. It has been marked up by an unknown annotator with corrections and updates (e.g., when a building existed at the time of the original typing, but no longer exists). Transcriptions show updates/annotations in italics. Where the original wording was crossed out, the word will be crossed out with annotation in italics. On a few occasions I added identifying brackets, to provide additional clarity to the text. Hyperlinks are to locations with Where Are We? and Residents pages in the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum website, or to external webpages that provide additional information/images.

Georgiana Blankenship, nee Mitchell, 1839-1936, was an early historian and long-time resident of Olympia. She married George Blankenship, another long-time resident, after divorcing her first husband. In 1914 she published Early History of Thurston County, which contains a history of the county as well as interviews with early pioneers and their descendants (see Bibliography for link to transcript/reproduction of this work).

The date for the original manuscript can be narrowed down to around 1927: the current Legislative Building had been completed or was nearly complete (finished in 1927), and 6th Avenue had not yet been renamed Legion Way (1928).

Link here for an interactive map of Olympia locating the various landmarks described in the manuscript. 

                The Biblical injunction “destroy not the old landmarks” has been set at defiance, and time, the devastator, as well as the spirit of those who followed the pioneers in that period between the first settlement on Puget Sound in 1845 and the beginning of the twentieth century have all but obliterated the early landmarks that characterized the little town of Olympia. These landmarks were not built for permanency and there is a far cry from the era of strict frugality, the home woven attire of the men and the checked gingham apron and sunbonnet of the women to this day of lipsticked, cigarette and painted toe nails of the ladies of today.

                The waterfront improvement started with Browns wharf, where the Buchanan mill is now situated, and later what was known as Giddings wharf, at the foot of old Main street was built to accommodate the few steamers that plied the waters of Puget Sound, notably the old Eliza Anderson that ran from Olympia to Victoria and way ports, making a weekly round trip. In the absence of deep water channels the dock was eventually replaced by a mile long dock to reach deep water. These aids to early shopping are now but a memory and have been replaced by the Port of Olympia, with adequate equipment, and there are channels dredged deep enough to accommodate the largest ocean going vessels.

                The old wooden bridge that formerly connected Olympia proper with Marshville (now the westside) has been replaced by a concrete bridge that will endure the age. The Swantown bridge that connected the town with what was then known as Swantown but what we now call the eastside, has disappeared and the arm of Budd’s Inlet that reached above Union street has been filled and it would now require a vivid imagination to picture duck hunters taking their game on the wing from a bridge extending from Jefferson street to east shore.

                Sometime about the year 1860 Capt. S.W. Percival acquired the property situated at the southeast corner of second and Main streets and erected and operated a large general merchandise store [address may be in error as there was a hotel at southeast corner]. He also erected a large warehouse on the southwest corner of Second and Columbia streets. This warehouse is still standing and in use. He also built a wharf along the south line of Second street from a point about one hundred feet west of Main street to the channel. During period of extreme high tides most of this real estate was under water, but has now all been filled in from Main street to the channel.

                Standing now at the old warehouse on the corner of Second and Columbia streets it does not seem possible that in the sixties deep water ships used to take on and discharge cargo at this point.

                Most of the water for drinking purposes was obtained by those living down town from a spring that gushed from the lot now occupied by the Chambers building at the northeast corner of Capitol Way and Fourth street. A platform about thirty feet square was built over the spring, a small hand pump installed and every morning a long line of the down town citizens lined up with buckets to carry home the family’s daily quota of drinking water. Sometimes in the winter when a cold spell came along the pump would freeze up and it would be necessary for the waiting crowd to adjourn to adjacent thirst emporiums and partake of beverages which never froze, until sufficient hot water had been obtained to thaw out the town pump.

                The united commerce of the town was confined to Main Street below Third, there the Lighnters, the Bettmans, the Rosenthals, the Mcleays and other pioneer businessmen carried on their various businesses. This section is now given over to shops and mills as the tendency to improvement was southward.

                There is no spot in Washington so rich in pioneer history as that tract bounded by Third and Second, and Columbia and Washington streets. Here stood the old Gallagher Galliher hotel where Governor Stevens was a guest on his arrival in the new territory and here the first gubernatorial reception was held. Here on a spot marked by a bronze table, the first territorial legislature met in the second story of a frail frame building, the ground floor of which was occupied by a general store. Here also the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons met and organized for the jurisdiction of Washington. Here the engineers who, under direction of Governor Stevens, had headquarters and prepared their reports for the first transcontinental railroad. On the corner of Third street – now State street – stood the old Pacific hotel where was entertained the first president to visit the territory – Rutherford B. Hayes- also General Sherman, Scuyler Colfax, the speaker of the national House of Representatives, and many other notables.
                Opposite the Pacific Hotel stood the livery stable where the Overland stage route terminated in the days when the stage made tri-weekly trips from Olympia to Cowlitz landing. Here was met the steamer that plied from the landing to Portland.

                With the exception of the old Washington Standard office, where for a half a century John Miller Murphy “Hew hew to the line and let the chips fall where they would may,” not a vestige of the old landmarks remains. This Bldg is gone now. The city hall occupies the space where the old mud covered stage coaches drawn by exhausted horses, ended their tortuous trip across the country on roads, though dignified by that name, were little better than blazed trails through dense forests and over barren prairies.

                When the Northern Pacific railroad was built and left Olympia a good fifteen miles away a connecting link was necessary. Of the narrow gauge road that was then built by the citizens, not a vestige remains. The result of the feeble efforts of the early settlers a given way to motor propelled vehicles which would have been a Jules Verne dream in the days the Port Townsend Southern was built.

                The old Masonic hall at Eighth and Capitol Way, that was the architectural pride of the pioneers, must of necessity give way to a more pretentious building. But the older masons, who were present when it was resolved to raze the old building, emphatically refused to consent to what they considered to be a desecration, until the revolutionists consented to a plan to include within the new structure a replica of the old lodge room with its ancient furnishings, and the floor upon which had trod the patriarchs of Washington Masonry – even the old door still swings and upon its panels are emblazoned the high lights of local Masonic history.

                Not until Washington had attained the governmental grandeur of statehood did the old two-story frame building give way to present architectural splendor. This old structure survived through territorial days, hid from the town by tall timber and undergrowth, reached by the early lawmakers over unsubstantial wooden sidewalks and a trail. Here, too, was old Capitol Lake where in severe winters skaters found amusement. The Territorial Capitol was where the Insurance Building is now. The lake was on the site of the Legislative Building.

                But the old Capitol building which survived to be the scene of the inauguration of the first two governors of the newly organized state as well as the lake are both gone and are now but treasured memories of the few that survive to recall the days of long ago.

                On the north side of the Capitol grounds and facing North stood the first executive mansion. This was built by Governor Stevens and occupied as his residence while in Olympia. On January 1854 Governor and Mrs. Stevens extended invitations for a reception to the citizens of Olympia and vicinity, the members of the Legislature and to the officers of the US.S. Massachusetts then in the harbor. The house was practically isolated from the little town and hidden by woods and thick second growth timber. As an aid and guide to the guests who were to attend lanterns were hung from limbs of trees along the route from the mansion to the waterfront. It was but a few years ago that the building was destroyed despite the efforts of sentimental citizens to preserve it. However, a marker was placed on the site bearing the legend that here stood the residence of the first territorial governor as well as the first state governor, for at one time Governor Ferry lived in the historic house.

                Facing North and opposite the Catholic church still stands stood the old Tilton home. Major James Tilton built it as a residence. He was the first territorial surveyor-general from 1853 to 1860. In a way it has been an official residence for it was the home of Henry G. Struve who was secretary of the territory from 1873 to 1879 and later occupied by William McMicken who was surveyor-general from 1873 to 1886.

                Even the most optimistic of the founders of our state could not have envisaged the grandeur of Capitol Hill today. Nor could they have realized that the day would ever come when Washington would reach a financial position that would tolerate the purchase and maintenance of one official car for one year for the same amount that was paid for the whole territorial government for a like period. This is but by way of comparison. These days of reckless extravagance and lavish expenditure of the public funds are a far cry from the thrift and enforced economy of the Empire builders.

                The first American school-house north of the Columbia River, situated on what is now the northwest corner of Sixth Legion Way and Franklin streets, was but a frail structure and succumbed to the first winter snow and had to be replaced by a more substantial one in 1853 which still exists. This building was finally used as a court-house, The Olympian newspaper office, was finally moved to a location below Third on State and Franklin street where it is now converted into a very cheap an apartment house – possibly worse and still stands as one of the very few remaining relics of early days. However, in this rude structure the pioneer youth received the rudiments of the education which was later to enable them to meet the exigencies and overcome the difficulties of the frontier life and to give them the wisdom and foresight to lay the foundation of this vast empire. These young people did not have the advantage of a four-year course in athletics and social enjoyment as of today.

                The first Protestant Presbyterian church was organized in a cooper shop near 5th and Columbia, on the north side of 5th. This was soon succeeded by a regular church edifice which, although originally built by the Presbyterians, has been used by various denominations, although the building has been removed from the southeast corner of Washington and Seventh Franklin and Legion Way to a less conspicuous location on Fifth and Adams, southwest corner. Today, perhaps these ancient walls echo a slightly different doctrine than that originally taught within their confines. But they are all seeking a common destination and there are no sects in heaven.

                The very attractive city park in the city center, was the gift from the founder of the town, Edmund Sylvester. This park remained for many years as bare as a nudist’s clothesline. It was known as the Public Square to the pioneers and their children, this name being singularly appropriate owing to the unembellished condition of the little park. It was the playground of the young of the little city. The only distinguishing feature was the old block-house on the site of the monument which marks the end of the old Oregon trial. This block-house served as a place of confinement for city and county offenders indiscriminately, and early gave way to the march of development. It was not a safe place of confinement and added nothing by way of ornament to the little park.

                Very few of the residences that domiciled the pioneers remain as mute evidence of the primitive homes of early days. No hot and cold water running in the house to lighten the housekeeper’s work There were no furnaces in basements, the pioneer family in general kept warm by clustering around the home built, fireplaces that in many cases filled one end of the log living room.

                There is one house still standing whose good condition testifies to the honest workmanship and material which was the order in those early days. This was known as the Sylvester house which from its commanding location was in striking contrast to the more modest homes on lower levels. When Edmund Sylvester occupied the house it was surrounded by a full block of land. The proprietor could well be profligate with land for he owned the townsite, and as the town’ founder and benefactor he could be pardoned a personal pride in a residence a bit more pretentious than his neighbors’. Time that gives opportunity to the romancer, when few are left to know the facts, has given rise to a ridiculous story that the tower on the old house was intended to give the occupants a point of vantage and to detect the approach of hostile Indians. No one more than Edmund Sylvester himself, would have found greater amusement in such a fable.

                Standing between the Presbyterian Community House (Sunset Life Building) and the Y.M.C.A. building stands a residence that once occupied the present site of Mottman’s store, where it was the home of Charles E. Williams, a pioneer merchant and whose store adjoined the residence.

                Attracting unusual attention are two wheels in Priest Point Park, that on account of their unusual size, being ten feet in diameter. They are a relic of pioneer logging methods. A log was loaded on these wheels, so nicely balanced, when on the road to the log dump that the rear end barely touched the ground. One day, when on the way through the main and only thoroughfare in Tumwater, drawn by six horses, the leaders took fright and commenced to run, followed in their flight by the two rear team. The great log commenced to gee and haw in a most alarming manner. The result was the complete demolition of everything in Tumwater along the line of flight.

                During that period in the Territory’s history, when the people lived in constant dread of the Indians, a man-of-war was sent to the Sound as a means of protection. The commanding officer unloaded a gun mounted on a carriage and left it for use in an emergency. This gun was mounted on the stockade on Fourth street and later was taken to the waterfront and thenceforth the gun was fired only on special occasions as on the Fourth of July or on political rallies. The people of Olympia, while there were a few southern sympathizers, were loyal. When news of the fall of Richmond reached the town there was wild excitement. James Pray, a saloon keeper, who had figured with the San Francisco vigilantes, and Benjamin Cleal an old sailor, resurrected the ancient gun and placing it at the foot of Main street commenced to fire. The charges were so heavy that the gun commenced to recoil at least twenty feet, but was not returned to its original position. Thus up Main street the old gun made its triumphal progress, shattering window as the neighboring woods resounded with its echoes. When Pray’s saloon was reached the gunners ceased firing for refreshments. This refreshment only served to increase patriotic fervor for when action was resumed little was left of the glassware in Jim Pray’s saloon. But there were no vain regrets for the people saw the end of an agonizing fratricidal war and there was plenty of glassware in San Francisco.

                The most remarkable landmark established in Olympia, and one to meet with early destruction when Indian troubles no longer threatened, was the twelve foot stockade which the pioneers built along the line of Fourth street from one arm of Budd’s Inlet to the other. When there was a threatened outbreak of the hostile foe, men, women and children deserted all other occupations to help in the erection of this means of protection and defense in case of an attack. The reign of terror being over the stockade was soon dispensed with.

                November 20, 1869, the town hall was dedicated with a grand ball. This hall was destroyed by fire in 1914. It was located between Washington and Franklin streets on the north side of Fourth street. There were two stories and a belfry which contained the fire alarm bell. The second story was dedicated to public entertainment and had a stage for theatricals whenever a barn storming company appeared in performances which ranged from Negro minstrels to deepest tragedy. Here Desdemona was smothered with a pillow and Othello was murdered outright. Here Cardinal Richelieu launched all the curses of Rome with all the vehemence of Edwin Booth, and what matter if the artist lacked that actor’s artistry. But the people were glad to pay the price of admission. They expected little and often got less. I, myself, have attended many a social function in this jolly old hall. When I first came to the city many years ago there was a flower show held there, and, I think, the manager must have been Mrs. J.C. Horr, for it was that lady who met me as I entered the hall in company with Mr. Blankenship’s aunt, Fannie Gilbert (Mrs. J.J. Gilbert). Mrs. Horr flattered me by introducing me to many of the notables of the then little city. Among them were the major, Mr. J.C. Horr, Ross G. O’Brien, Judge and Mrs. T.J. Anders, Judge and Mrs. R.O. Dunbar and many others. I remember the display of flowers was very beautiful and there were many set pieces. Mrs. Charles Bolton had made a large harp, the frame of which was green and the strings small pink rose buds. The next day these buds had bloomed and the piece was still beautiful. Ah, those were the days.

                Old Tacoma Hall, since remodeled into a spacious lodge room by the Knights of Pythias and situated on the south west corner of Columbia and Fourth Streets, was donated to the Good Templars Lodge by a wealthy steamboat man (Captain Finch). The only condition being that the lodge would maintain a free reading room and library for the use of the public. (This was Olympia’s first library.) This condition was maintained legally if not sufficiently. In this hall on July 4, 1869, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward addressed the people when on his way to look over his recent purchase of Alaska. His face still bore the marks of the attack made upon him the night Lincoln was assassinated.

                Long before the people had felt the need or thought of inaugurating the “Noble Experiment” the pioneers felt the urgent necessity of a brewery, and the first one in the Territory was built and put in operation on the northwest corner of Columbia & Fifth Streets. Here, in time, the rude forefathers of the hamlet met in convivial convention unmindful of the fact that they would not live to see the enactment of laws that would curtail their pleasure. But they were broadminded and liberal – these hardy pioneers – for, be it said, the brewery donated the use of the cooper shop where were made the beer kegs, to the church for the purpose of organizing the first church, as I have already mentioned. The First Presbyterian church of Olympia. In 1869 George Barnes built the small brick building on the east side of Main street, between Third and fourth. This building has survived the ravages of time. In it was installed one of the first banks ever organized on Puget Sound.

?              Near the corner of Cherry and Fifth streets there stands stood a modest little cottage now occupied as a residence. This was as far back as 1892 [across from][1] the Thurston County court house and stood on the present site of the old Capitol building, facing Fifth Street Legion Way on the Southeast corner of Legion Way & Franklin. It was the sole occupant of the block which was at that time a dismal swamp, low and marshy.

                On the east side of Columbia street between Third and Fourth stood the home of John Clark. On this site he erected a two story hotel building which Mr. Clark leased to George Carlton who abandoned the newspaper business to become a landlord – hence the name Carlton House. In a way of saying this was the executive mansion for some time, for it was the residence of Watson C. Squire, while he was governor of the Territory 1884 to 1889, and was a resort where foregathered the political potentates – the statesmen and near statesmen of the time. From being a very respectable hotel it went into a moral decline and in time lost its god reputation and year by year was less frequented by desirable patrons. Later the old hostelry was dominated by a class whose best was never better than the worst and finally after repeated violations of the prohibition law by the proprietors, the Federal government was obliged to put a padlock on the door, the portals of which in former years the high and mighty had passed. Now the deplorable structure stands only as a relic of former grandeur.

                On the southwest corner of Fourth and Adams stood the First Methodist church. The walls of this venerable structure once rang with the “Amens” and “Praise Gods” of the Methodists of the old school Rev. De Vore and Rev. Driver held revival meetings in the old church with a frequency and fervency which is not shown in these modern days when the fear of a literal brimstone hell has been modified to a more lenient and more convenient standard upon which to rely for future welfare. The church still stands, at the north east corner of Jefferson and State Streets.

                A building worthy of note, not on account of its antiquity, for it is more modern, but because it figured largely in the social and political affairs of Olympia and the young State, was the Olympia Hotel  which stood on the present site of the post office and was destroyed by fire in the early days of the present century Nov. 16, 1904. The building was erected to furnish accommodation for those who of necessity must visit the capital. Olympia as the seat of government had been severely criticized on account of lack of accommodation for transients, and those agitating for removal of the capitol used this as an effective weapon. Public spirited citizens set about to meet this objection by the erection of a very attractive three-story wooden building. It was a heavy burden to carry by the few who felt the necessity of the hotel. When completed it was the center for all social events of importance, and during the sessions of the Legislature was the scene of several political campaigns for senatorial elections. Here lobbyists foregathered to plot for the advancement of legislation in the interests of the corporations, for the people at large had small representation for the furtherance of measures in their own interests. The walls of the old hotel were insensate witnesses to many plots and intrigues of doubtful merit and much of moral depravity among those who figured largely in the politics of that day. The cause of the conflagration was never definitely known. It burned the night of November 16, 1904.

                The old Episcopal church has disappeared. It stood on the present site of the Governor hotel. Before its complete demolition it was occupied first by a grocery store and then Charlie Storrs used it as a second hand furniture store. Just a thought comes to me here: I was walking past the furniture store one hot day, when I heard my name called. Stopping on the sidewalk till Storrs stepped up to me and said: “Mrs. Blankenship do you want a kitten?” “No, I don’t think I do,” I replied. “I should think you would want one of this litter for they are six-toed cats.” I really couldn’t see any particular advantage in this surplus toe, and still declined the friendly offer. But to proceed. One Halloween night, some unregenerate humorist, Bob Lee, son of Rev. W. Lee, the Presbyterian minister, left his mark on the store and next morning passersby were amused to read, “My house was a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

                The Catholics occupied a modest little church on the site of the present picturesque brick building.

                The Olympia Collegiate Institute was located on Second and Pear streets, about 1875, a property now vacant. In its time it was rather an imposing two-story building. In an academic way the title of this school was imposing, though in fact it was little more than a grammar school, but it thrived in a period of the territory’s history when the University of Washington had not reached the educational eminence it now occupies. Within the walls of this Institute several men and women, residents of the State now bordering on old age, received their education, and have lived useful lives and filled positions of trust in the State, without a university education and fraternity pin now deemed necessary to the finished product, a luxury that was denied to the rising generation of pioneer days.
                Of the residences of those other days, but few remain. Mr. George A. Barnes, Olympia’s first banker built his home on the present site of the Union Pacific depot [see also site of George Barnes home/Artesian Well site]. It was a pretentious one when it was built in 1856 and the scene of many festivities. The house, now grown antiquated and out of date, was moved in rather recent years to give place to the depot and is still standing in a good state of preservation on the corner of Jefferson Cherry and Sixth streets Legion Way.

                The old square house on what is now the northwest corner of Pear and Fourth streets, though renovated and remodeled, was built in the fifties and was for many years the residence of Washington’s poet laureate, Francis Henry.

                Surviving until quite recently was the old Horton residence on Pear East Bay Drive and Third. Occupied for half a century by the owner, Mrs. Horton who died in the house that had been her home these many years. Upon her death at the age of 98 years, the old house was torn down to make room for the ever encroaching gas station [link to Washington State Historical Society catalog description of house]. W.H. Horton installed Olympia’s first water system.

                The old Lansdale residence near Central and Fourth streets still stands as does the Bigelow house on Glass street.

                On Capitol Way at Fifth where stands the Funk-Volland building was the old Elwood Evans residence. Mr. Evans was a lawyer, but gave much of his time to collection of historical data of Washington. His collection was very valuable and while Mr. Evans possessed the ability he lacked the energy for concentration and he died without working up is notes into what would have been a valuable Territorial history. Such a history was later published by Clinton A. Snowden, and is recommended for reading.

                Next to the Evans residence stood the Gove residence where now stands the Smokehouse. The Gove family was identified with shipping and steamboats on Puget Sound.

                On the west side of Washington street between at Ninth and Tenth, on the present site of the Mottman residence [link to article about Mottman Mansion, now demolished], there stood a brick residence the only one that was ever built in Olympia as a residence, and the first in the Territory of Washington. It was erected in 1870 and occupied by William Billings, who held the record of having been sheriff of Thurston County for twenty-five consecutive years. The brick used in the structure was home-made. This house was later the first home of Thomas M. Vance and wife when they cane to Olympia to establish residence.

                Located on the northwest corner of Fifteenth street and Capitol Way, erected in 1855, still stands the old Colonel Cock residence [link to unscanned image of Cock residence, now demolished]. It has been built over in some respects, but the old frame still remains, and foundation put together with wooden pins. Its builder was grandfather to C.E. Reinhart. Colonel Cock was the first territorial treasurer and for his first year’s salary received the munificent sum of $5.

                One of the original residences of the pioneer village was that of T.F. McElroy, on Washington and Eighth streets, N.E. corner. It was razed when the better residence was built on the same block on Seventh street on the S.E. corner. Mr. McElroy published the first newspaper printed in the Territory, the Columbian, which made its appearance in 1853.

                Thinking back over the prominent land marks of these pioneer days, visions mentally rise of the men and women who ruled the destinies of Olympia in those days and to refresh our memories a visit was made to the silent and ever growing city of the dead south of town where rest the early empire builders; where cold stones revive memories of those who sowed the seeds that others might reap the harvest. Here in eternal rest are found the name of those hardy pioneers of the forties and fifties who laid wide and deep the foundations of a commonwealth the future of which will eclipse the fondest hopes of those who strived through hardship, privation and danger to create homes and means of existence uninspired by dreams of greater accomplishments. They builded better than they knew. In their humble beginnings they did not envisage a state that in three-quarters of a century would contain a million and a half inhabitants and to stand first in the Union in point of cultural intelligence. Our early law makers framed statutes that have so far survived and stood the test of time. These legislators performed their arduous tasks free from corrupting influences and their enactments were enforced without fear or favor. They quit their earthly activities little richer in worldly goods than when they braved the sufferings and dangers of an overland quest for homes. It is devoutly to be hoped the promised land they now inhabit has granted the reward but few received in the land of their youthful dreams.

                Among those standing out most vividly are Michael T. Simmons, who led the party that made the first settlement on Puget Sound in 1845, who called a meeting of settlers to protest against British aggressions. Mr. Simmons also established the first American store in the Northwest.
                James Biles, who headed the first party to cross the Cascades, overcoming incredible obstacles. He established the first tannery in the northwest. This was located at Tumwater.
                D.R. Bigelow who delivered the first Fourth of July oration in the Northwest. This address gave impetus to the calling of a convention asking for separation from Oregon and the organization of Washington Territory.      

                T.F. McElroy who established the first newspaper in Olympia. Mr. McElroy also advocated, in this paper the organization of the new Territory.

                Edmond Sylvester, who located his claim on the site upon which Olympia now stands and who donated the tracts of land for territorial and town purposes.

 

 

[1] Transcriber’s note: the meaning of this paragraph is obscure and muddled by strikeouts. It makes most sense if you add after the phrase “as far back as 1892” the words “across from.” With that addition, the  “modest little cottage” would have originally been on the current location of the Old State Capitol Building (now Superintendent of Public Instruction building) and across from the then-Thurston County Courthouse at the southwest corner of Legion and Franklin. That building was the courthouse until 1892. The italicized question mark at the beginning of this paragraph signals the annotator’s later attempt to make sense of this paragraph.

 

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Memorial Clinic – 4/2/17

The Memorial Clinic building, just east of the Fourth Avenue bridge, designed by local architect father and son team Robert and Joseph Wohleb, was built in 1948. The clinic was an innovative concept at the time, grouping several physicians and specialties under one roof. It was located near downtown but handily close to St. Peter Hospital, then on Sherman Street. The building was demolished in 2015. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Jeffers Photograph, 1950, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Frank Guslander mill – 3/26/17

With an abundant source of nearby timber, the wood products industry was an important element of the Thurston County economy for many decades. This image from about 1909 shows the Frank Guslander shingle mill, on Black Lake.  Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

circa 1909 photo, courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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Bear cub eludes capture – 3/19/17

In this photo from May 1962, a bear cub eludes capture in downtown Olympia. The cub was on its way to be displayed at the Tumwater Falls Park when it escaped, after having its photograph taken. The chase led into an insurance office in the Hotel Olympian where it surprised salesman Walter Olsen before finally being captured. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

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St. Michael School groundbreaking – 3/12/17

In this photo from March 12, 1950, parents, children, and Sisters of Providence look on at the groundbreaking for the new St. Michael School building on 10th and Boundary. The school was originally located on Capitol Way.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Merle Junk photograph, March 1950, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Olympia streetcar – 3/5/17

The Olympia streetcar system was launched in the late 1800s and ceased operations in the mid-1930s. Here a streetcar is seen proceeding up Main Street (now Capitol Way) toward Tumwater. Behind it is Olympia High School, which was then across the street from Capitol Campus. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Unknown photographer, around 1920s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Masonic Hall – 2/26/17

This photograph from 1902 captures the stately Masonic Temple at the corner of 8th Avenue and Capitol Way. Built in 1855 as one of the city’s earliest public structures, it was razed in 1911. Photograph selected by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. William Romans photograph, 1902, Courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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Columbia Hall Police – 2/19/17

The Columbia Hall, located where the 4th Ave Tav is now, was a combined police station, fire station, City Hall, and gathering place. Here members of Olympia’s finest pose in front of the hall, sporting their law enforcement badges.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Oscar Sternberg photograph, 1905, Courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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Territorial Capitol – 2/5/17

The capitol building from Washington’s territorial days sits empty in this photograph from 1911. Between 1905 and 1928, the Washington State Legislature met in the Old State Capitol building downtown, now the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Work began on the current Capitol Campus grouping in 1912. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Asahel Curtis photograph, 1911, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Spar Ticker – 2/12/17

In May 1962 attorney general Brock Adams issued an order to stop posting ongoing game scores at public places, on the grounds it promoted illegal gambling. Here Stan Parsons demonstrates the soon-to-be-halted practice, at the Spar restaurant in downtown Olympia. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Daily Olympian photograph, May 1962, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Percival Children – 1/29/17

Captain Samuel Wing Percival built Percival’s Dock (now the site of Percival Landing) as well as an imposing home with terraced grounds overlooking the Deschutes Estuary and downtown Olympia. In this early photograph his three children, John, Georgiana, and Sam, pose in a studio setting. John later took over the shipping business from his father. Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Photograph around 1865, courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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Olympia High School domestic science class at AYP – 1/22/17

A group of Olympia High School students poses for a publicity photograph in 1909. Vocational education was a revolutionary concept in the early 20th century. To demonstrate its potential, Oly’s domestic science class opened a model kitchen at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle and served six-course meals there, to astonished and rave reviews. Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

1909 photograph, courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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Archives Building under construction – 1/15/17

This photograph from 1962 shows the Washington State Archives building under construction. Erected during the cold-war era, the building doubled as a fallout shelter. Just one of its several floors is above ground. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Daily Olympian photograph, May 1962, State Capital Museum collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Olympia Knitting Mills suit – 1/8/17

Olympia Knitting Mills produced sportswear and marketed it throughout the United States. Here, a model demonstrates a daring one-piece knit bathing suit. The Olympia Knitting Mills building is now the home of Fishtail Brewing Company, on Legion Way. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Jeffers photograph, around 1935, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Palm Grove miniature golf – 1/1/17

Miniature golf was all the rage in the late 1920s and early 30s. In January 1931, the Palm Grove “resort” opened at the corner of Franklin and Fifth. The indoor course had a tropical theme, with an adjacent restaurant. One of the area’s first neon signs was erected outside to draw attention to the swanky venue. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1931, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Woodbury Doane – 12/25/16

“Captain” Woodbury J Doane was a well-known figure in early Olympia. He owned Doane’s Oyster House near the corner of 5th Avenue and Washington Street. Here he served up his famous pan-roasted oysters. Some say the allure of Doane’s oysters contributed to Olympia’s remaining the capital after Washington became a state in 1889. Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Charcoal portrait, around 1880, courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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Talcott Brothers – 12/11/16

Three pioneer brothers – Charles, Grant, and George Noyes Talcott – operated the Talcott Jewelers store on Main Street, now Capitol Way. Here they are shown, as elderly men, with some of the products formerly sold at the store. The business was in the family until 2003. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Jeffers photograph, 1950s or 1960s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Olympia Air Transport – 12/18/16

Olympia Air Transport was a private company offering air services at the Olympia Regional Airport in Tumwater, beginning in the 1930s. After World War II began, the United States government took over operation of the airport and used Olympia Air Transport planes for military service and training. In this photograph from 1941, servicemen are lined up in front of a fleet of OAT aircraft.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

Vibert Jeffers photograph, November 1941, Susan Parish Collection Southwest Regional Archives

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Dick Gregory trial – 12/4/16

gregory

In the fall of 1966, comedian, actor, and activist Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian were charged with illegal fishing, when they participated in the Native American Fish-In campaign to assert treaty rights. In this photograph from late November, the Gregorys enter the Thurston County Courthouse on Capitol Way. The trial attracted national publicity. The Gregorys were found guilty on December 2. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. 

December 1966, Daily Olympian photograph, courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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Thanksgiving Football – 11/27/16

thanksgivingfootball11-27-16

The Olympia High School Bears host the Vancouver Trappers on Thanksgiving Day in 1929. The teams are seen playing on Stevens Field. Olympia High School, then located across the street from Capitol Campus, had no field of its own. The game’s final score: 14-0 Bears. Photograph selected by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum; caption credit Secretary of State blog, May 2009. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

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Civil Defense – 11/20/16

thebutton

At the height of the Cold War, many communities participated in Civil Defense exercises designed to prepare us in the event of nuclear attack. Here, Thurston County staffer Jim Falin tests an alarm siren button designed to warn the community of an imminent threat.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. October 1961, Daily Olympian collection, Washington State Historical Society 

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State Capital Museum – 11/6/16

statecapitalmuseum11-6-16

The State Capital Museum, now closed, was a repository of art and artifacts associated with the City of Olympia, the State of Washington, and curiosities from all over the world. In this photo from the 1950s or ‘60s, we see the replica of the Territorial Capitol building, created for Washington’s Centennial Celebration in 1953, displayed in the side yard. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Merle Junk photograph, 1950s or 1960s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Tumwater tracks – 11/13/16

tumwatertracks11-13-16

An unidentified couple stands along the railroad tracks in Tumwater, around 1910. The old Olympia Brewing Company building can be seen in the background. Much of downtown Tumwater was wiped out with the construction of I-5 in the 1960s. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Robert Esterly photograph, around 1910, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Samuel Woodruff – 10/30/16

woodruff

Samuel Woodruff poses in an elaborate regal costume for a publicity photograph. Woodruff was an early real estate developer. He was also a talented amateur actor and musician (and distant relative of Bing Crosby). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Photograph, about 1880, courtesy of Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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Tilley Stable – 10/23/16

tilleystable10-23-16

This early photograph shows the Livery Stable operated by Moses Rice Tilley. Established in the 1860s, it was the first stagecoach and livery (carriage rental) business in Olympia, at the northwest corner of State and Capitol (current site of the Family Support Center).  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Unknown photographer, 1800s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Olympus Dairy – 10/16/16

olympusdairy

Several dairies existed in downtown Olympia in the first part of the 20th century. Olympus Dairy Products was located on the southeast corner of State Avenue and Water Street. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Merle Junk photograph, 1951, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Lacey South Sound Center opening – 10/9/16

bob-blume-speaking-at-the-sssc-opening-oct-1966

Bob Blume, a Lacey businessman and real estate developer, has often been called the “Father of Lacey” for his civic contributions, including the effort to incorporate Lacey as a city. Here, Blume is speaking in front of the Woolworth’s store at the Grand Opening celebration of South Sound Shopping Center, on October 12, 1966. Also notable in this image is Al Homann, far left, the general contractor for the mall who would become first Mayor of Lacey in December 1966. Photo selected and captioned by Erin Quinn Valcho on behalf of the Lacey Museum.

Image courtesy of the Lacey Museum.

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Parade for “the Canal” – 9/25/16

paradefor-thecanal9-25-16

In 1933 a commission was established to study a proposal to build a canal from the Columbia River to Puget Sound. The project had strong support in Olympia and other cities that would have benefited from jobs during and after construction. In this September 1933 photograph, a parade in support of the canal proceeds past the Capital National Bank Building on 4th Avenue.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers photograph, September 1933, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Olympia Vocational Technical Institute – 10/2/16

ovti

In the fall of 1962, the Olympia School District founded the Olympia Vocational Technical Institute (OVTI) in the Montgomery Ward Building on 4th Avenue in downtown Olympia.  Here, soon after its opening, a typing class is pictured with its instructor, Carol McKee. This institution later became South Puget Sound Community College. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

October 1962, Daily Olympian photograph, courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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“Three Little Maids” – 9/18/16

mikado

In early Olympia, homegrown entertainment was an important element of community life. Here three prominent members of Olympia Society: Drusilla Percival, Clara Woodruff Burr, and Mrs. J.P. Hoyt, pose as the “Three Little Maids” to promote an upcoming production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

L.W. Clark photograph, late 1800s, Courtesy Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum collection

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JJ Brenner Barge – 9/11/16

brennerbarge

In 1893, JJ Brenner founded his oyster business near the current site of Bayview Market. Brenner relied on Squaxin and Japanese harvesters, who loaded the oysters onto barges at low tide and then brought them into Olympia. This photograph, of a tugboat hauling Brenner’s oyster barges, is from about 1935. The Brenner company still exists, now headquartered in Shelton. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers photograph, around 1935, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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The Twist – 8/28/16

twist

Youngsters from Jefferson Junior High School (now Jefferson Middle School) demonstrate the old and the new in this photograph from 1962. Pictured are seventh-graders Connie Moore, Dave Hill, Dean Grainger, and DeAnne Barre.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

February 1962, Daily Olympian collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Unfortunate humpback whale – 8/21/16

whaleinlogs8-21-16

This unfortunate humpback whale was discovered tangled in log booms in Shelton in late August 1930. When attempts were made to tow it away, it twice escaped from its captors, but finally succumbed to multiple bullets and harpoon strikes. Some 10,000 spectators traveled to Shelton and then to Point Defiance, where the rotting carcass was exhibited. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1930, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Olympia Canning – 8/14/16

OlympiaCanningCo_1948

The Olympia Canning Company was established in the Port of Olympia around 1912 and took up an entire block between A and B Avenues. The company processed fruit, vegetables, fish, and shellfish. The company employed many girls and women, some as young as 11 or 12. In this photograph from 1948, a worker is processing pears. The company was here until 1959.Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1948, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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ME George Grocery – 8/7/16

megeorge

The M.E. George grocery store in the Angelus Hotel building, at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street, was a long-time downtown fixture. It was owned by lifelong Olympia resident Marion George. This is now the location of the Cascadia Grill. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1930s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Reed Building – 7/31/16

AR-B410-VJeffers-ReedBldg

The Reed Building, at the corner of Washington and Legion, is one of downtown Olympia’s earliest downtown structures. It was erected in 1891 by Thomas Milburne Reed and features apartments at the second story with retail establishments on ground level. The building originally had elaborate decorative moldings at the roofline, but it was badly damaged during the 1949 earthquake and few of the decorative features remain. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

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Security Building – 7/24/16

security

The Security Building on Fourth Avenue was Olympia’s first “skyscraper,” at five stories! The building features elaborate rosettes and pineapple motifs, a variety of rare stones, and mahogany woodwork throughout. Built on pilings that extended 60 feet deep, the building survived both the 1949 and the 2001 earthquakes. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Jeffers photograph, around 1926, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Capitol Chevrolet – 7/17/16

CapitolChevrolet-jeffers-1941

A crowd gathers outside Capitol Chevrolet for the arrival of the new 1942 model Chevrolet. This building is now the home of Ramblin’ Jack’s, on Fourth Avenue. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

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Sears Opening in Lacey – 7/10/16

95-054 Sears Opening, 7-13-1966

Lt. Governor John Cherberg, with assistance from Lakefair Queen Sue Kilde, is about to cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the new Sears store at the South Sound Shopping Center on July 12, 1966. The indoor shopping mall, which was officially opened a few months later, was the only one of its kind in the South Sound region. Also notable in this picture is the mall’s developer Bob Blume. Photograph selected and captioned by Erin Quinn Valcho on behalf of the Lacey Museum. Daily Olympian photo, Lacey Museum collection.

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Tenino Fourth of July 7/3/16

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Clouds of dust are raised as floats and automobiles parade through Tenino on July 4, around 1913. Leading the parade were horse-drawn floats sponsored by merchants Campbell and Campbell and a  skating rink on wheels. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

Unknown photographer, around 1913, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Last Day of Nisqually School – 6/26/16

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Students are dismissed on the last day of the Nisqually School, on the Nisqually Cut-off Road, in June of 1962. Students attended school in the Nisqually area from as early as the 1850s. This schoolhouse was erected in 1911 and served until 1962, when the school was consolidated with others in the North Thurston School District. The building is still in existence and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit olympiahistory.org.

June 1962, Daily Olympian collection, courtesy Washington State Historical Society

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North Coast bus station – 6/19/16

greyhound

In about 1937, the North Coast Lines built the art moderne building that stands at the corner of Capitol Way and 7th Avenue, where it was photographed here shortly after its completion. North Coast was one of the many subsidiaries of Puget Sound Power and Light, begun in 1922 to provide electrically-powered transportation up and down the coast, but soon branching out into motorized transportation. Today the building is the home of Greyhound Bus Lines and has retained most of its original art moderne features. In the 2000s, the Art Deco Society of Olympia acquired funds to repaint the building, along with its iconic motto: “See America By Bus the Modern Travel Way.” Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit olympiahistory.org.

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Pacific Tel building – 6/12/16

pacific tel and tel

The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Building, shown here, stood on Fifth Avenue, where the Washington Business Bank is now. Telephone service was available in Olympia by 1889. In 1908, the California conglomerate Pacific Tel &Tel acquired the local telephone franchise from the Sunset Telephone Company. It erected this structure in the 1920s. In the 1930s, Pacific Tel & Tel moved to the so-called Fleetwood building (named after Olympia’s local Fleetwood telephone exchange). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit olympiahistory.org. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1920s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Plywood factory – 6/5/16

plywood

Workers process sheets of plywood at the St. Paul and Tacoma plywood plant in the Port of Olympia, in the 1940s. The plant was established in 1921 as the Olympia Veneer Company, an innovative worker-owned cooperative. In 1946 the plant was sold to the St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Company. The machinery shown here was supplied by Tacoma’s Globe Machine Company. The plywood and veneer manufacturing businesses in the Port of Olympia contributed heavily to the war effort during World War II. Today, only remnants exist of these once-thriving and important elements of Olympia’s economy. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit olympiahistory.org. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1940s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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1008 Prospect Ave. NE

Location: 1008 Prospect Ave NE

1008 prospect_19541008 Prospect Ave, 1954, Thurston County Assessor 1008 Prospect

1008 Prospect today (2012), photo by Deb Ross

The home at 1008 Prospect Ave is located between  the Olympia Avenue National Historic District and the Bigelow House. Built in 1895, it is a good example of the type of unassuming homes that were being built in Swantown (Olympia eastside) at that time. This part of town was accessible only via an unreliable bridge before the Carlyon Fill in 1910, but was the home of several small industries that attracted workers. Photographs from the Thurston County Assessor in 1954 and by Charles M. Moore in 1949 show that the basic structure of the building is unchanged. The house is not currently inventoried.

Additional resources:

Washington State Historical Society, enter the following catalog number in collection search box C1949.1301.31.7.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fishing arrests 5/30/16

fishingrights

Long before the more widely known Native American “fish-ins,” member of the Nisqually Tribes were defiantly engaged in fishing activities that had been decreed illegal by Washington State. The Department of Game made numerous arrests and confiscated gear throughout the 1960s. Here, in a 1962 Daily Olympian photograph, Game Department enforcers arrest Nisqually tribal members as they return with their catch. Native American treaty fishing rights were finally upheld in the US Supreme Court’s 1974 Boldt decision.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. John Bailey photograph, January 1962, Daily Olympian collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Olympia Brewing Company bottle-cap workers – 5/22/16

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Olympia Brewing Company, in Tumwater, was an important employer and presence in our community from 1893 to 1983 (with a hiatus during Prohibition). In this photograph from 1940, female workers attend to bottle caps in the production line. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers photo, 1940, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Odd Fellows building – 5/15/16

oddfellows

The imposing Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Olympia was dedicated, to great fanfare, in 1888. Odd Fellows from all over the area arrived to celebrate the completion of one of the most important lodges in Washington Territory. The building burned in 1937. The G. Miller clothing store is now at this location. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Photograph from about 1889, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Little Hollywood Float House – 5/8/16

floathouse

Little Hollywood was the name given to a collection of float houses, businesses, and shanties that occupied the lower end of the Deschutes Estuary in the early part of the 20th century. In the late 1930s, the City began removing the structures, in order to make way for the future Capitol Lake. In this photograph from the early 1940s, a forlorn float house sits on the mud at low tide, with debris left over from previous removals scattered about. The last structures were finally put to the flame in 1942.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Merle Junk photograph, 1940s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Centennial Parade – 5/1/16

Centennialparade

In May of 1950, the City of Olympia observed its centennial. Celebrations included a log cabin Centennial Headquarters in Sylvester Park, a special edition of the Daily Olympian, and, naturally, a parade. Here a replica of Tumwater’s Crosby House makes its way up Capitol Way, thronged by spectators, many in “pioneer” garb. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.Merle Junk photograph, May 1950, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Livingston baby #12 – 4/24/16

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If you meet someone surnamed Livingston in Olympia, there’s a good chance they are children or grandchildren of Al and Anna Mae Livingston. Fourteen children in all were born to this family, and nine of them still live in our community. In this photo from 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Livingston are bringing home Bill, baby number 12. The event was of such importance that the Archbishop of Seattle performed Bill’s christening ceremony; the Thurston County Cowbelles presented the family with a case of meat; and the family received free passes to local events. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Thank you to Denise Livingston for additional background. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

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Kneeland Hotel demolition and outdoor barbershop – 4/17/16

barber

The April 13, 1949 earthquake resulted in damage to or destruction of several downtown Olympia buildings. Here, a barber sets up temporary “shop” along Fourth Avenue, across from the Kneeland Hotel, which had to be demolished after the quake. (This is now the location of the Schoenfeld Furniture building). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, 1949, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Percival Mansion terrace – 4/10/16

percivalterrace

In this photo from 1949 we see the beginnings of construction of the Fifth Avenue dam and bridge and the Deschutes Parkway. At the right of the image are the terraced grounds of the Percival Mansion, once a prominent city landmark, now obliterated. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, 1949, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Olympia Transit – 4/3/16

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Before Intercity Transit came into being, the Olympia Transit Company provided service within Olympia and to neighboring communities. Here, in this photo from 1950, the fleet and its drivers are lined up in front of the Temple of Justice. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

Unknown photographer, 1950, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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William Frank, Sr. – 3/27/16

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Nisqually Tribal elder William Frank, Sr. poles a canoe on the Nisqually River in this photograph from March 1962. William Frank was the father of noted activist Billy Frank, Jr., for whom the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge was recently renamed. This photograph accompanied a Daily Olympian profile of Frank, Sr., in which he lamented the decline of the Nisqually Tribe and the fisheries resource it traditionally relied on for sustenance. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

March 1962, Daily Olympian collection, Washington State Historical Society

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Sylvester Park in early 1950s – 3/20/16

sylvesterpark

Servicemen enjoy a sunny day in Sylvester Park in the early 1950s. Before I-5 was built, all north-south and east-west travelers had to pass through downtown Olympia. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Union Pacific Train Wreck – 3/13/16

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On March 13, 1959, a runaway train smashed through the Union Pacific depot on Fourth Avenue and into businesses on the other side of the street, destroying half a block. Miraculously, only one person was killed, telegraph operator Kenneth Dilley. This photograph shows the destroyed depot, as a large crowd of onlookers gathers after the accident. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1959, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Hunger March – 3/7/16

hungermarch

In early March of 1933, a group of about 4,000 men, women, and children marched to Olympia to protest inadequate relief efforts for unemployed and destitute citizens during the Great Depression. After demonstrating at the Legislative Building, the marchers were escorted by sheriffs, Olympia police, and a group of vigilantes to Priest Point Park where they were obligated to camp out in the rain without shelter. Although the march was deemed a failure at the time, it drew attention to the plight of the unemployed and demonstrated the ability of workers to organize and unite in a cause. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

Jeffers photograph, 1933, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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USO Club – 2/28/16

uso2-28-16

The USO Club in Olympia opened in early 1942. According to a Daily Olympian article dated January 22, 1942, it had a lounge, library, showers, and cafeteria. The USO (United Service Organization) is a nonprofit, founded in 1941, that provides support to service troops and their families. This building was located on Fourth Avenue, just east of where the Olympian building now stands.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org.

Unknown photographer, 1942, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Bordeaux – 2/21/16

bordeaux2-22-16

Established in the 1890s, the timber town of Bordeaux at one time had a population of over 400 and employed up to 700 workers. It was the site of logging and milling, sprawled over a huge area 15 miles southwest of Olympia. Most of the town site is now located in Capitol Forest, where remnants of the mill operations can still be found. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, 1930s, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Fifth Avenue Dam and Bridge Construction – 2/14/16

5thavedam

In early 1949, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of a dam, bulkhead, and new bridge at the mouth of the Deschutes River, thereby creating Capitol Lake. This photograph from late 1949 or early 1950 shows the beginning of construction of the dam and the Fifth Avenue Bridge over it. In the distance we can see the dome of the Legislative Building, still under repair following the April 1949 earthquake. The dam and bridge were completed in 1951. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, around 1950, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Amanda Benek Smith – 2/7/16

amandasmith

Olympia’s current mayor, Cheryl Selby, is the third woman to hold this office. The first, Amanda Benek Smith, held the office from 1953 to 1960. She was also the first female mayor of any state capital. Smith was mayor during the siting and construction of what would become Interstate 5, which she proposed be routed through downtown Olympia, via a tunnel or overpass. (The route that was adopted, over her objection, destroyed downtown Tumwater.) Smith also banned gambling in downtown Olympia, supported the planting and preservation of trees in the cityscape, and made numerous improvements in city infrastructure. Amanda Smith Way is named after her. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. More information is available at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, 1954, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Lewis and Clark Trading Post – 1/31/16

tradingpost

The Lewis and Clark Trading Post was located at the eastern end of the Fourth Avenue bridge, and offered repairs, trades, and “Affectionate Tourist Information.” Notable in this photograph from 1949 are the cranes which were being used in construction of the Fifth Avenue dam and bridge; the dome of the Legislative Building, under repair after the 1949 earthquake; and the then-new Memorial Clinic to the east, which was razed in late 2015. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, 1949, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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American Legion Band at Winged Victory – 1/24/16

legionband

The Washington American Legion Band was formed in 1923 by the members of Alfred William Leach Post No. 3 of the American Legion. It is the oldest legion band in continuous existence in Washington State. It has received numerous awards and honors over the years and performs several times a year. Here the band poses in front of the Winged Victory statue on Capitol Campus, which honors men and women who served in World War I. This picture was taken in the summer of 1956 after the band won the National American Legion Band Championship in Los Angeles at the National American Legion Convention.  The majorette is Dorothy Bergh, who was 17 years old at the time. She was with the band between the ages of 8 and 22. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Thank you to Dorothy Bergh Wack for additional information.

Merle Junk photo, 1956, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Banned Book display – 1/17/16

banned

In January 1962, the Olympia Public Library created its first “Banned Book” display, now an annual tradition of the Timberland Regional Library system. The display was in response to an incident the previous December, when the Thurston County sheriff confiscated copies of Tropic of Cancer from local bookstores. Among the books displayed here is The Rabbits’ Wedding, featuring a marriage between a black and white rabbit. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Daily Olympian collection, January 2, 1962, Washington State Historical Society

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St. Peter Hospital on Sherman Street

stpete1-10-16

St. Peter Hospital  was founded in 1887 by the Sisters of Providence, at a location now on the grounds of Capitol Campus. The hospital moved to a new building on Sherman Street, in West Olympia, in the early 1920s. The new structure was a first-class facility, housing 100 beds and all the modern equipment, as well as a nursing school. After the completion of the current hospital building on Lilly Road, in 1971, the Sherman Street building was converted into apartments. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1943, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Deschutes Estuary in 1949

deschutes

In this image from early 1949, the Deschutes Estuary is at high tide and calm on an overcast day. The photo was taken looking north from Tumwater towards Olympia. Construction of the Fifth Avenue dam and Capitol Lake had not yet begun. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Merle Junk photo, 1949, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Robert Wadlow at GallenKamp’s

gallenKamppromotion12-27-15

GallenKamp’s was a shoe store chain with a location in downtown Olympia. In 1938, as a publicity stunt, the chain retained Robert Wadlow, the World’s Tallest Man, to undertake a nationwide tour of the stores. In this photograph, Wadlow is towering over a vehicle advertising the event. Due to a rare disorder of the pituitary gland, Wadlow never stopped growing. In 1938, a year before his early death, he was over 8 feet tall. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1938, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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The Sanborn Overlays – Instructions and Tips

Each set of Sanborn overlay pages has two possible views: an embedded view that is contained on the page itself, and a linked view that will take you to a larger map hosted by ESRI, a Geographical Information System provider. 

*To zoom and out, use the +/- buttons or your scroll wheel, if you have one
*Each map consists of several layers, including the underlying current aerial or map, one or more mosaic elements (see additional note below regarding mosaic elements), and buildings or other elements included in our website’s Where Are We?  feature (see below). Clicking on the layer icon ()will allow you to toggle various layers on or off.
*Opacity of the various layers can be changed by selecting the layer, clicking on the right arrow > where you can select opacity of the selected layer. 
*Link here for legends and keys that Sanborn typically used in the colored maps; link here for legends and keys for the black and white maps. These changed somewhat over time so may not be universally applicable. 
*Colored dots link to information about buildings or other historical features included in the Where Are We? feature of our website. The dots are color-coded (click on legend icon ) to indicate the time frame in which the feature was added.  Toggle the Historical Features layer to turn this on and off. Clicking on the dots will take you to a link for the applicable Where Are We? page. 
*You can use the measure button to draw a line or enclosed area and measure length or area. Clicking on it again will make the line disappear.
*The basemap button ()allows you to select what you want to see under the Sanborn overlay — e.g., an aerial view, a street map, etc.

Note re mosaic elements: Each Sanborn map series consisted of two or more sheets, with an index, or overview, page that provided an overview of the area covered by each series. The overview also shows the sheet number for each area covered. Our Sanborn overlay maps were created by layering several individual sheets or groups of sheets (mosaic tiles) over a single contemporary aerial view or map. Occasionally, the mosaic elements slightly overlap and may obscure some information. Each layer can be toggled on and off with the layer button, so where there are overlapping mosaic tiles, you may wish to view each layer separately. We recommend that you begin your viewing with the overview layer, then toggle the separate mosaics and/or Historic Features layer on and off, and set their opacity as desired. 

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Christmas Island – 12/20/15

christmasisland12-20-15

In the 1940s Frank Huber created and displayed a  life-size crèche on his front lawn, where it was a popular seasonal attraction. In 1959, a coalition of partners acquired the display to create “Christmas Island,” a twinkling raft afloat in the middle of Capitol Lake. Sponsors erected the display annually until the early 1970s, when it was moved to the Sears parking lot, then to the Metro Church on Puget Street. When the congregation moved to Maytown, the display went along with it, where it can still be seen during the holiday season. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

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St. John’s Sunday School – 12/13/15

stjohnssundayschool2-13-15

A group of well-behaved youngsters listens to a Sunday School lesson at St. John’s Episcopal Church, in 1954. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org. Vibert Jeffers photo, 1954, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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4th Avenue December 1954 – 12/6/15

4thavedecember1954

It’s a dreary, rainy December day in 1954, but Fourth Avenue is decked out in holiday greenery. As can be seen on the route sign, the street was part of Route 99, the West Coast’s main north-south thoroughfare, as well as Route 410, the main highway linking Aberdeen and Lewiston, Idaho. To accommodate increasing amounts of traffic, Fourth Avenue was “twinned” with State Avenue and made one-way, one of the first to do so in the West. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

Merle Junk photo, 1954, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Doane’s Oyster House – 11/29/15

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Doane’s Oyster House stood near the corner of 5th Avenue and Washington Street. “Captain” Woodbury Doane presided, with his famous pan-fried oyster recipe that some claim contributed to Olympia’s being retained as the state capital. Politicians, lobbyists, and anyone else who wanted to be seen flocked to the restaurant; ladies had their own entrance at the side. The Olympia Oyster House is a direct descendant of Doane’s. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, around 1883, Southwest Regional Archives, Susan Parish Collection

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Deane Apartments – 11/22/15

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A group of workers poses proudly in front of the new Deane Apartment building, in 1936. The building still stands, behind the YMCA, on Adams Street. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers, 1936, Southwest Regional Archives, Susan Parish Collection

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Daily Olympian building – 11/15/15

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This venerable structure stood at the corner of Franklin and Legion, where Selden’s Furniture is now. Over its 65 years of existence, it served many functions, including schoolhouse, Thurston County courthouse, and, as shown here in 1903, the Daily Olympian office. At one time the building was even rotated 90 degrees, for reasons lost to history. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Unknown photographer, 1903, Southwest Regional Archives, Susan Parish collection

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Don Rich – 11/8/15

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Olympia-born Donald Eugene Ulrich, best known by the stage name Don Rich (August 15, 1941 – July 17, 1974) was a country musician who helped develop the Bakersfield sound in the early 1960s. He was a noted guitarist and fiddler, and a member of the The Buckaroos, the backing band of country singer Buck Owens. Don graduated from Olympia High School in 1959, already having opened for Elvis Presley at the Tacoma Dome at age 16. This photograph was taken in the 1950s or early 1960s at the beginning of his career. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

Merle Junk photograph, Southwest Regional Archives, Susan Parish Collection

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Olympia Collegiate Institute – 11/1/15

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The Olympia Collegiate Institute was the third in a series of private schools supported by the Methodist Church in Olympia’s early years. This building was located on East Bay Drive, at the corner of Olympia Avenue. It was probably erected around 1874. Many of the Washington’s notable citizens were graduates and supporters of the institute. Image selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

1891 Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue, Washington State Library

 

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Olympia High School band – 10/25/15

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Olympia High School (official name: William Winlock Miller High School) has a long and proud tradition of outstanding marching bands. In this photograph from 1950, the band, leader, and majorettes stand in formation on the lawn of the Washington School, which had formerly been the home of Olympia High School. This building is now the Knox Administrative Building on Eastside Street. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

1950, Merle Junk Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Carnegie Library – 10/18/15

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The collection that became the Olympia Public Library was begun by the Women’s Club of Olympia in 1896. In 1909, the City took over the collection. Around that time, Andrew Carnegie instituted his program of endowing communities with funds to build local libraries, subject to certain stipulations. Carnegie’s grant of $25,000 assisted in the construction of this building, which was completed in 1914. After the current Timberland Regional Library was erected in 1968, this building served as a bookstore, restaurant, and most recently as a church. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers Photograph, about 1925, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Barker Motors – 10/11/15

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At the outset of the automotive era, Capitol Way became part of the main north-south thoroughfare of the West Coast, first designated the Pacific Highway, then renamed State Route 1, and, in 1926, US 99.  Automobile dealerships, filling stations, motels, and restaurants lined the “main drag” to serve America on the move. The Barker Motors dealership and filling station shown here was adjacent to the Governor Hotel and just uphill from the Northern Pacific depot on Water Street (whose sign can be seen at the right of this image). Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. 1942, Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Foursquare Church – 10/4/15

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The Foursquare Church on Fourth Avenue in Olympia was founded in 1939. The building was constructed with labor and materials supplied by the congregation. This photograph was taken in 1941: note the presence of men in uniform, as well as a young man wearing an Olympia High School letter sweater. After the building was deconsecrated, it served for a time as the home of the Olympia Film Festival as well as a recording studio. Vacant for several years, it burned down in 2014. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. 1941 Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives.

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Paul Wiseman with Mountaineers – 9/27/15

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Paul Wiseman, a nearly life-long resident of Olympia, was the founder of the Olympia branch of the Mountaineers. He led trips for the Mountaineers into his ’80s and continued to hike and drive his Lincoln—the one vehicle with a trunk big enough to hold a set of skis—well into his late ’90s. He died in 2011 two days short of his 99th birthday. In this photograph, which accompanied a Sports Illustrated feature entitled “A Date on Mt. Rainier,” he chats with fellow mountain climbers. The feature ran in the second issue of the magazine, in the summer of 1953. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Ira Spring photograph, used by permission

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Fallout shelter – 9/20/15

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In the fall of 1961, fears of radioactive fallout sent some panicked Olympians to building fallout shelters. For $215, a family could buy a ready-made shelter from the Seamart store downtown and install it in their basement. In this photograph, a family demonstrates life in an underground shelter. While Mom happily plucks away at her ukulele, Dad and big brother look on approvingly (note as well the medicinal bottle of Canadian Club on the shelf.) Only little brother looks a tad bored on his upper bunk. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Merle Junk photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives.

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Lindbergh over Capitol

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On September 14, 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, over the relatively new Legislative Building as part of his 48-state tour of the country. Newspaper reports estimate that 1 in 4 Americans witnessed some part of Lindbergh’s tour. According to the Seattle Times, when Lindbergh’s plane reached Olympia, “the plane flew around the dome of the Capitol three times, descending to a low altitude. The flyer then dropped a message of greeting and roared off.”  Washington state was especially proud of the aircraft because it was constructed almost entirely from Western Washington spruce trees. Footage of Lindbergh’s flight over Seattle, the previous day, has only recently been discovered. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Capitol Theater – 9/6/15

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The Capitol Theater, now the home of the Olympia Film Society, was the crowning achievement of the Zabel family, who owned several movie theaters downtown. It includes terra cotta decorations, stained glass windows depicting each of the five muses, and marble flooring.  Anticipating some of today’s theater design features, Zabel installed special seating for parents of small children, assisted-hearing devices, and even an extra-wide seat to accommodate a larger patron. This photograph from 1931 shows the ornate lobby. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1931, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Tenino quarry – 8/30/15

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In the late 19th century several sandstone quarries were established in Tenino, Washington. Stone from these quarries shipped for buildings and construction throughout Washington and Oregon, including many distinguished existing structures. This photograph from around 1900 shows the Tenino Stone Company quarry in full operation, with its stepped wall of sandstone in the foreground. The site is now a popular swimming area in downtown Tenino.  Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

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Capitol Way and Legion – 8/23/15

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In this photograph from early 1960s, we are looking north on Capitol Way from the southwest corner of Legion Avenue. Across the way is the Miller’s Department Store, a mid-Century modern building erected just before the 1949 earthquake. Across from it is the Penney’s store. The building still exists though remodeled into its current “blank” façade. In the distance we can see billowing black smoke from the veneer plants in the Port area. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

 

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9th Avenue – 8/16/15

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When we see old photographs of Olympia, it’s sometimes difficult to nail down what we are looking at. There are two clues in this photograph, which was taken in 1928: the dome of the Legislative Building in the background, and the Foursquare home with its dormer toward the left side of the image. This helps us to see that we are looking westward across 9th Avenue in downtown Olympia, towards Capitol Way. The home with the dormer is the Gibbons House, which still exists on Capitol between 10th and Union and is on the local register. The Texaco and Rogers gasoline stations, as well as the residences along Capitol are long gone. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org.

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Be-Slim Display – 8/9/15

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Diet fads have been with us since at least the 1800s. In the 1950s, miracle pills and powders abounded, as they do today. Many included amphetamines as an active ingredient, now frowned upon as a slimming solution. The display in this photograph from 1958 featured the “Be-Slim” product, and shows “Miss Be Slim” visiting a supermarket in Olympia. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit us at olympiahistory.org. 1958, Merle Junk Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Miller’s Department Store – 7/26/15

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The Miller’s Department Store was located at the important intersection of Capitol and Legion Ways. This mid-Century modern building was erected about 1949, just before the 1949 earthquake, which caused minor damage to the structure. The building currently houses commercial operations at the ground level, and the large façade above the entryways has been removed. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information visit Olympiahistory.org. 

Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1949, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

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Lakefair celebrates Diamond Jubilee – 7/19/15

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Lakefair and its parade have been an Olympia fixture since 1957. In 1964, in observance of Washington state’s Diamond Jubilee, the Lakefair princesses and queens were transported down Capitol Way in a magnificent float with a diamond theme. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information visit Olympiahistory.org. Note: the negative was inadvertently reversed in the scanning of this photograph. The large mid-Century modern building in the background is the Highway and Licensing building, then recently completed.

 

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