Author Archives: Deb Ross

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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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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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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“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

teninoparade7-3-16

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

nisquallyschool6-26-16

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 Assessor1008 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 (east Olympia) 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

livingstonbaby

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

olympiatransit

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

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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

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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

olympian franklin

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

barker

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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Cadillac Dealership – 7/12/15

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In 1914, Tumwater resident Robert Esterly took a series of photographs of many of Olympia’s commercial and industrial operations, providing a valuable record of our city as it looked 100 years ago. Most of the photographs also include owners and staff. This automobile dealership was at the corner of Columbia and 5th. The building still exists and is well preserved. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information visit Olympiahistory.org. Esterly photograph, 1914, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

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Grimm Brickyard – 7/5/15

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Brickyards existed in and around Olympia from its earliest days. Bricks were made by mining the extensive clay beds around Olympia’s shores, molding them, building wooden kilns to hold them and then setting the kilns on fire. The brickyard at the corner of Fourth and Eastside, shown here in about 1880, was one of at least two on Olympia’s east side. It was owned by the Grimm brothers, and then by William Burchett and Christopher Baker until early in the 20th century. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information visit Olympiahistory.org. Washington State Library Collection, Washington State Archives

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Denn Powder Explosion – 6/28/15

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On June 27, 1934, a huge explosion at the Denn Powder Company in the community of Lacey resulted in 11 deaths. The company produced dynamite, which was in great demand for logging, stump clearing, mining, and demolition. The damage from the explosion was so extensive that it was never possible to reach a definitive conclusion on its cause. 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, 1934, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Fish ladder – 6/21/15

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The fish ladder at Tumwater Falls was built in the 1950s to provide a pathway for salmon up the Deschutes River. Before the ladder was built, there was no natural salmon run up the Deschutes.
The hatchery at the top of the falls was constructed in 1962. The ladder and hatchery provide a way for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to supplement the natural Chinook salmon population in our area. This photograph from 1957 shows the fish ladder soon after its completion.  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, 1957, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Bergstrom and Lassen – 6/14/15

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In the early 1930s, Bill Bergstrom and Irving Lassen founded Bergstrom’s Sporting Goods store (in the Simenson Jeweler Building) on Fourth Avenue, where the Spider Monkey tattoo parlor is now. Here, Bergstrom and Lassen show off a brace of fish caught with tackle from their store. Irving Lassen is the dapper gentleman at the left. He later founded Lassen Electric (now in the Star Laundry building, see also Lassen House) and, at his death, endowed the Lassen Foundation for the benefit of the people of Thurston County. 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, 1938, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Bettman Store – 6/7/15

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The Bettman family were merchants in Olympia from very early days. Their men’s clothing store was in business downtown on Capitol Way until the 1970s (see also Bettman First Store, Bettman Block, and Bettman-Oppenheimer House for more sites associated with this family). In this photograph from June of 1949, a gentleman is trying on a suit. Assisting him is Charles Lyman, long-time employee. (Thank you to Charles Lyman’s granddaughter Mollie Lyman Hall for this information.) The profusion of floral arrangements in the photo suggests that this may have been the grand re-opening of the store following the earthquake of 1949. 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, June 1949, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Forest Memorial Gardens – 5/31/15

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The Forest Cemetery, now Forest Memorial Gardens, was established in 1857 by early pioneers. Several members of the Bigelow family are buried here. The cemetery was later referred to as the Chinese Cemetery — somewhat to the Bigelow family’s indignation — as it is the burial place for many Chinese immigrants. In addition, the cemetery is the only burial place for Thurston County Muslims, marked by mounds rather than stones; and several early unmarked African-American gravesites. As can be seen from this photograph from 1956, the cemetery fell into neglect in the early years of the 20th century. Early gravesites have now been restored as they have been rediscovered. 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, May 31, 1956. Susan Parish Collection Southwest Regional Archives

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Percival Mansion – 5/24/15

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The Percival Mansion, the home of pioneers Samuel W.and Lurana Percival, is one of the more recognizable structures in early Olympia images. It was built by Benjamin Harned in 1874, at the western end of the Fourth Avenue bridge. Built in Gothic Revival and Italianate style, it perched on top of a terraced hillside and had a spectacular view of Olympia and Mount Rainier. 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. Edward Lange drawing, 1891 Olympia Tribune Souvenir Edition, Washington State Library

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Littlerock School – 5/17/15

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In the early days of statehood, one room schoolhouses were the norm throughout Thurston County. Here a stern looking teacher has charge of a group of 27 youngsters at the Littlerock School, in 1909.  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. Photo: Frances Dena, 1909, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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May 11, 2015

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Whitlock Collection, Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum

This week marks the 70th anniversary of V-E day, the end of the European conflict in World War II. On May 10, 1946, near the first anniversary of V-E Day, the United States Army’s Second Division participated in events held in its honor in Olympia. The Division had been reassigned to Fort Lewis only three weeks before. The Morning Olympian reported that there were 8,000 participants in the parade, including several battalions, a band, howitzers, and the hit of the “show,” 45 dogs of the 50th Scout dog platoon. In this photograph, Division colors are being carried past the McKenny Building on Capitol Way, where the Schoenfeld Furniture building is today. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information visit their website at olympiahistory.org.

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Alice Padilla Salon – 4/5/15

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Alice Padilla, left, opens a new hair salon in Tumwater in 1950. The salon featured Thomasine Andre, “a hair stylist from Hollywood,” probably shown at Alice’s right. It was located in a new, modern, shopping center called The Village. Photographs 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 1950, Susan Parish collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Bayview Hotel – 4/12/15

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The Bayview Hotel was located on Third Avenue (now State Street) in Olympia. Third Avenue was the dividing line between the “respectable” part of downtown and the Dead Zone, or Tenderloin District. As suggested by its name, the hotel was located on what was then waterfront on the north side of the street. In this photograph, from around 1900, the staff and proprietor are awaiting customers in the hotel’s restaurant. Photographs selected and captioned by Deborah Ross.

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Youth in Government – 3/29/15

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The Washington State YMCA-sponsored Youth in Government program was begun in 1947, just a few years after the first such program was founded in New York State. Some of our state’s most important citizens, including former Governor Gary Locke, acquired their first taste of politics by participating in this annual event. Olympia-area citizens play a key role by acting as hosts to the teens who arrive here from all parts of the state. In this photograph from 1957, unidentified youths confer on the House floor, occupying seats of actual legislators Elmer Johnston and Harold Petrie. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

Merle Junk photograph, 1957, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Chambers Prairie Cherry Tree – 3/22/2015

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David Chambers arrived in this area in 1848, a member of the very early pioneer Chambers family. On the migration west, he brought with him fruit tree saplings and planted them on his homestead in what is now Lacey. One of the saplings grew into a magnificent and well-known cherry tree, which outlasted both the sale of the property to the Mountain View Country Club and then to Panorama City (now Panorama). In this photograph from 1925, David Chambers’s son, Olympia mayor A.H. Chambers, stands by the tree, which is in full bloom. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1925, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Gowey House – 3/15/15

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John Gowey was an important citizen of Olympia, who served in many local and territorial capacities and eventually rose to the level of consul of Japan, where he died. His wife was one of the original “Mercer girls” who were brought to Washington Territory to meet the matrimonial needs of the men of the territory. The Goweys’ mansion served as the residence of two Washington governors, Ferry and Rogers. The elegant home was located just north of where the Department of Enterprise Services building is now, on Columbia Street. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org. 1891 Souvenir Edition, Olympia Tribune, Washington State Library

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Capitol Way Bricking – 3/8/15

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Until the early 20th century, Capitol Way (or, as it was known then, Main Street), was unpaved. It was a muddy mess in the rainy season, and dusty in the summertime. The need for a hard surface became urgent with the advent of bicycles and automobiles. Thus, the bricking of Main Street in 1908 was a major and welcome improvement. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1908, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

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Governor Hotel Dining Room – 3/1/15

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1939, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

The Governor Hotel, across from Sylvester Park on Capitol Way, has a long and distinguished history. In 1890 the hotel (variously called the Governor House and the Mitchell Hotel) was a three story structure with a columned entryway. It was developed by William H. Mitchell, a pioneer businessman. In 1928, a larger, seven-story brick structure was built to the south. It was damaged during the 1949 earthquake but still in existence in 1960. That building was replaced in the early 1970s by the current structure. This photograph by Vibert Jeffers, taken in 1939, shows the elegant dining room of the hotel. 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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William Owen Bush Farm – 2/22/15

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1945, C.R. Jenson Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

William Owen Bush was the eldest of six sons of the pioneer George and Isabella Bush family. Carrying on his parents’ remarkable legacy of careful land stewardship and public service, he was one of the most successful farmers in the northwest. He brought his products, along with other Washington produce, to the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. He also served in the first Washington State Legislature, and authored an important civil rights act, the first to be passed in the West. His home in Tumwater is pictured here in 1945, after his death. It was demolished in 1970, but the land on which it stood is now aptly the home of a farm supporting Community Supported Agriculture. Photographs 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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Miles Sporting Goods – 2/15/15

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1937, Vibert Jeffers photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

This image from February 1937 shows the result of a successful cougar hunt. Elwyn Miles, the owner of the Miles Sporting Goods store, is one of the proud men in the photograph by Vibert Jeffers. The store was located in the Van Epps building at 107 Capitol Way, where Browser’s Books is now. Photographs 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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“1063 Building” – 2/8/15

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1951 Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

The Capital Park building, commonly known as the “1063 Building” after its address on Capitol Way, was erected in 1931 by the Dawley Brothers, who built several of the commercial buildings in Olympia’s core. It is a large masonry structure in the art moderne style. The building had several retail businesses on the ground floor, including the Sav-Mor grocery store shown in this photograph from 1951. Upstairs it housed lobbyists, radio stations, and law offices, including that of early female attorney Julia Waldrip Ker. The center of the building held a bowling alley and ballroom. The building is slated for demolition. Photographs 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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David Goularte

David has always been interested in history.  His maternal great great grandfather Joseph de Bettencourt came to California shortly after the Civil War to work on the western portion of the trans-continental railroad.  The Bettencourts were early settlers of Livermore, California. A portion of the original ranch is still in the family.

David has a BA in Interior Design from San Jose State University and has been in the field since 1967. After a few years as a buyer, and retail floor designer for furniture stores, he moved to Seattle in 1977. After a stint as retail floor designer for all the Doces and all the Ken Schoenfelt chains, David opened his design business in 1980. He moved his business to Olympia in 1989.

Besides designing many west coast and Olympia houses and businesses, David has worked in the Senior Living field since 1990.  Today he acts as consultant to Koelsch Senior Living Communities building new communities in the west and into Illinois.

David became involved with the Bigelow House Museum when it was being restored in the early 90’s.  His main contribution was meticulously uncovering the layers of wall coverings in the different rooms and choosing authentic reproductions for the restoration.  He helped with all aspects of the interior. It has been an ongoing project since then, and just this year another room was papered in  a Carpenter Gothic pattern circa 1845.  

David has been an honorary board member of the Bigelow House Museum since 1995 and recently also a board member of the merged OHS&BHM.  He is also on the board of a couple other organizations as well as on the Olympia Design Review Board.

David and his wife are fortunate owners of two historic properties, the Reed Block (1891) which Ruthann’s Drees occupies, and of the Egbert-Ingham House (1914).

 

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Springer and White Mill – 2/1/15

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The Springer & White mill was an important early business in Olympia’s port district. It was co-owned by Charles Springer and Allen White, and fabricated doors and other building elements. The mill was located at the north end of Jefferson Street, about where the Hands-on Museum is now. This drawing from 1891 by Edward Lange has several interesting details, including, in the background, the Olympia Opera House on Fourth Avenue and the old Washington School (current site of the Armory). But the railroad track running down through the mill and onto a dock was wishful, or forward, thinking on Lange’s part: it wasn’t actually built until many year later. Photographs 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.

Drawing by Edward Lange, for 1891 Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue, Washington State Library collection

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Safeway Store on Fourth Avenue – 1/25/15

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, 1962

The Safeway Store chain has long been a fixture in the Olympia area. The first store was located in downtown Olympia. In 1962, a new, modern building was erected on Fourth Avenue. Its arched glass front, with domed ceiling, lent an airy, open feeling to the store and was an important addition to Olympia’s commercial mid-Century buildings. This photograph was taken soon after the store’s opening. In 2011 the City purchased the property, razed the building, and erected the current City Hall on the site. This location was once part of the Swantown Slough. It was filled in about 1910 as part of the Carlyon Fill, which filled in most of the slough, dredged Budd Inlet, and added several blocks to the north, west, and east. 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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Edward Echtle

  • Bigelow House Operations Committee chair
  • Position 2: Term ends January 2018

Ed was born in Olympia and developed a lifelong interest in local and regional history early in life.  He earned an MA in History from Western Washington University in 2004 and currently works as an independent consultant specializing in public history projects and historical research in support of environmental litigation.  Ed has produced museum exhibits, historical publications, interpretive displays and programs for public and private institutions.

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Greg Griffith

Greg Griffith has worked for over 30 years in the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historical Preservation. In that timespan he has worked as the agency’s historic preservation planner and implementing the Section 106 consultation process for the built environment. He later moved into the position of Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. In that role he manages the work and programs of the Built Environment Unit and is responsible for the SHPO’s development and implementation of the Washington State Historic Plan: Getting the Future Right 2014-19. Greg is a long-time member of the Thurston County Historical Commission and in previous experience in the non-profit sector he has served the Olympia Heritage Commission, Olympia Design Review Board, the Bigelow House Preservation Association, and Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

Before arriving in Washington, Greg worked for county planning organizations in northeast Ohio and metropolitan St. Louis. He has a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Ohio State University; a Masters in Historic Preservation Planning from Eastern Michigan University; and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Miami University

 

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Denise Halloran

Denise Halloran is a 20 year resident of Olympia and is Chief Executive Officer of a philanthropic foundation.  She previously worked for the State of Washington for 26 years as a program manager and social worker, and had an antique business for 10 years.  She owns one of Olympia’s historic homes on the east side which she has spent twenty years restoring.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and a Master of Arts degree in psychology.

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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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Construction of I-5 – 1/18/15

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During the long planning period leading up to the construction of Interstate 5, several routes were considered, including one that would have tunneled underneath downtown Olympia. Ultimately, it was decided to site the freeway in a wide arc around the capital city, facilitating connection with Route 101, but requiring the demolition of most of downtown Tumwater. This photograph from 1956 shows the beginning of the construction of the bridge spanning the upper end of Capitol Lake. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Merle Junk photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, 1956

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Greenwood’s Ark – 1/11/15

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Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, 1930’s; Greenwood’s Ark photograph by Vibert Jeffers

In 1920, William Greenwood began to build an ark, convinced that a second flood was imminent. The ark was constructed entirely out of found material, and located in West Olympia, near the waterfront of Budd Inlet. Greenwood, at right, spent the next 22 years working on the ark, which was decorated with flags, quotes from the Bible, stars, and other artwork. In the early 1940s the city reluctantly declared the ark a fire hazard and forced Greenwood to move to “retirement” in Grand Mound, where he immediately began building another ark. He died in 1958, surrounded by the animals he had hoped to save when the flood came. Link here to video footage of Greenwood and the ark. Photograph selected and captioned by Deborah Ross on behalf of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum.

 

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Legislative Building after earthquake – 1/4/15

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Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, 1950

This aerial photograph, taken in 1950, shows the dome of the Legislative Building under repair after the 1949 earthquake. Among the many repairs required, the original stone lantern atop the dome was replaced with a lighter weight lantern. An elaborate scaffold was built, with a tramway to transport materials and workers to the top. Dignitaries and their wives made frequent visits to the construction platform surrounding the top of the dome. Also visible in this photo are the Insurance Building under repair; the Capital Apartments and Olympia High School on Capitol Way visible in the background at right before their demolition to make way for East Capitol Campus; and black smoke wafting from the smokestack at Washington or Olympia Veneer. 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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Goldberg’s Building – 12/18/14

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Merle Junk photograph, 1951, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

The intersection of Fourth Avenue and Capitol Way is both literally and figuratively the center of Olympia. At one time the Kneeland Hotel stood here at the southwest corner; it had to be razed after the 1949 Earthquake. Soon after, the Goldberg family opened Goldberg’s furniture store here. The building design was considered bold and modern, designed by Olympia’s preeminent mid-Century architects Bennett and Johnston. Photograph selected by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit Olympiahistory.org.

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5th Avenue Dam Construction – 12/21/14

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

This photograph from December 1949 shows Capitol Lake under construction. In the foreground is the 4th Avenue Bridge, while the beginnings of the 5th Avenue Bridge and dam construction can be seen behind it. The terraced area to its right is what remained of the Percival Mansion grounds, a long-time fixture in Olympia. It succumbed to construction of the Deschutes Parkway, Capitol Lake, and the 5th Avenue bridge. Photograph selected by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit Olympiahistory.org.

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Block’s Shoe Store – 12/14/14

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, December 1937, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

Block’s Shoe Store was located in the Pacific Building, now the home of Archibald Sisters. The building was once three stories tall; the 1949 Earthquake made the removal of the top two stories necessary. In this photograph from 1937, the store is decked out for Christmas. Photograph selected by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit Olympiahistory.org.

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The Sanborn Overlays – Introduction

Sanborn Insurance maps were developed between 1867 and 2007 to assist insurance companies in assessing the risk of fire. They contain detailed information about every building and space and associated infrastructure and are an invaluable tool for researchers. Each year’s set of maps featured two or more pages. Sanborn maps came in both black and white and color versions.  The colored versions provide more information about materials and other key features. Link here for select scanned colored Sanborn maps, or, If you are a member of a Timberland Library, you can access all the Washington State Sanborns here (you will prompted for your library card).

In this feature, you can access four series of Sanborn maps: 1884, 1891, 1908, and 1924-1947, with a mosaic feature that combined pages from each set to create a single map of the developed part of the city. We then overlay them on top of aerials of the Olympia of today. You can also select a view that will show many historic features that remain today, with links to more information about them. The maps are also zoomable to a high degree of detail. Features of the overlays can be turned on and off, or made more or less transparent, depending on the view chosen. Click here for detailed instructions and tips on using the overlays.

Many, many thanks to volunteer Brian Hovis for creating these maps. 

Sanborn Overlay – 1884 – downtown core soon after the great 1882 fire
Sanborn Overlay – 1891  – a booming capital city after statehood
Sanborn Overlay – 1908 – the advent of the bicycle and beginning of the automotive age
Sanborn Overlay – 19241947 Carlyon Fill has created Port area; “Wohleb era” arrives; Capitol Campus created (this is a combined overlay, as the 1947 series was essentially an update of the 1924 series)

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J.C. Penney store – 12/7/14

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, December 1957, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

The J.C. Penney store occupied a prominent position at the corner of Legion Way and Capitol Way in downtown Olympia. The building was originally developed by P.H. Carlyon, a prominent dentist, businessman, and public figure. In the 1990s the building was redeveloped into its current “blank” façade, spurring the city to institute downtown design review procedures. Photograph selected by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For additional information, visit Olympiahistory.org.

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Olympia Cornet Band – 11/30/14

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Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

The Olympia Cornet Band was formed in the 1870s and provided entertainment at local events, as well as traveling as far as Victoria, B.C. Members of the band included many of Olympia’s most prominent citizens. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

For another photograph of the band, with many members identified, see Washington State Historical Society catalogue number C1950.1301.22.3 

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Amateur theatricals – 11/16/14

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William Duckering photograph, 1893, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

Professional and amateur theater was an important part of early Olympia social life. Here, four amateur thespians rehearse in 1893 for a production of H.M.S. Pinafore, a benefit for St. John’s Episcopal Church. The woman in the center is Drusilla Percival; at the left of the image is Sam Woodruff. Percival Landing and Percival Creek are named after the Percival family, while the Woodruff Building and Woodruff Park are named after Sam Woodruff. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

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Oyster Bay – 11/23/14

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

Oystering was an important industry from Olympia’s earliest days. In this photograph, taken at Oyster Bay in the 1930s, a line of floats piled high with oysters waits out low tide. In the background we can see residential float houses lined up along the shore. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

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Hotel Olympian – 11/9/14

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, 1937, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

When the state acquired the Old State Capitol Building in 1902, it was apparent that downtown accommodations were inadequate to house all of the legislators, lobbyists and others during legislative session. After much delay, the five-story Hotel Olympian was built in 1918 directly to the north of Sylvester Park. It was said that more business was transacted in the spacious lobby of the hotel than in the Capitol Building itself. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

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Olympia Federal Savings – 11/2/14

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Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives

Making a bold modern statement, the Olympia Federal Savings building is a floating glass box framed by metal and brick. Erected in 1967, it was one of the best works of Olympia architect G. Stacey Bennett. The elaborate carved doors were the work of artist Walter Graham. The building is located in the Olympia Downtown National Historic District and is one of the most important mid-Century modern buildings in Olympia. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, visit olympiahistory.org.

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Japanese at Labor Temple – 10/26/14

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

This photograph of a group of second-generation (Nisei) and third-generation Japanese-Americans was taken at the Labor Temple, also known as the Woodruff Building, in downtown Olympia in October of 1938. The banner over the group can be translated as Olympia Japanese Nisei Association of Kindred Spirits Opening Ceremony. Japanese immigrants and their descendants were important contributors to the development of Olympia’s growth, particularly the oyster industry. Some of the men, women, and children in this photograph may have later been interned during World War II, not many years after this photograph was taken. Several Nisei from the area served with distinction in the United States armed services. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

We would welcome any additional information about this group or its members!

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John Percival in 1940 – 10/19/14

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

John Percival was the second son of pioneer Samuel Wing Percival. In 1877, Samuel entrusted to John the important job of running the family’s dock business when John was only 16. In this photograph from 1940, John Percival stands in front of his shipping office, now the location of Percival Landing. He died in 1942, aged 81, after a sixty-five year career. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

 

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Harris Dry Goods – 10/12/14

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

Isaac Harris founded Harris Dry Goods in the 1880s. In 1896 he moved the store to Main Street (now Capitol Way) between Fifth Avenue and Legion Way, one of the most desirable locations in downtown Olympia. The building still exists and is on the local heritage register. The Harris family (Isaac and his sons Mitchel and Gus) were prominent merchants, active in local politics as well as the Jewish community. This photograph of the department store was taken in 1943. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

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Olympia Light and Power – 10/5/14

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Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives, photograph by Mae Cummins

The Olympia Light & Power Company, organized in 1890, brought the first electricity to Olympia and Tumwater, Washington. The waterwheel-generated hydroelectric power plant at Tumwater Falls also powered the streetcars between Olympia and Tumwater. In 1923 it was purchased by Puget Sound Power & Light Co.  This photograph was taken in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

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Miniature Golf – 9/28/14

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, 1930

The miniature golf craze hit Olympia in 1930, with two indoor parlors opening that year. This one was located at the former site of a Buick dealership at the corner of Franklin Street and Fifth Avenue. This photograph may depict its opening day in late September. Newspaper reports remarked that the game was taken just as seriously as “real” golf, and with just as much wagering involved. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

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Mann’s Seeds – 9/21/14

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Merle Junk photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, 1960s

Champion Bramwell Mann, an early Olympia pioneer, held a variety of public offices, including territorial librarian, Thurston County Treasurer, and mayor. His most lasting legacy to local historians is a survey he sent out to other Thurston County pioneers and their descendants, asking questions about their family roots, how they arrived here, and their family members. Mann’s first profession was apothecary, or druggist, but by 1920 he had converted his family homesite on the corner of Fifth and Franklin into a seed store. Mann’s Seeds was still in existence into the 1970s. It is now the home of Rainy Day Records and Little General grocery store. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org.

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Thurston County Courthouses Through History

This “story map” is part of a collaboration between the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum and the Thurston County Courts History Committee. The left side of the map features a narrative of the locations associated with the Thurston County court system, while the right side is a map with locations noted with an gavel icon. Scroll down or click on the buttons at the left of the screen to take a stroll through history! 

Text developed by Thurston County Courts History Committee; story map created by Brian Hovis and Deb Ross

To view the map in full screen, link here (external link to ArcGIS Online)

 

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The Sanborn overlays: Olympia in 1884

After a shaky start in the late 1840s and 1850s, by the early 1880s Olympia was the most important community in Washington Territory, assisted by its status as territorial capital. Although the center of the city originally was north of Third (State) Avenue, it soon moved south to the intersection of Fourth and Main (now Capitol Way). Downtown was originally a mix of homes, stores, churches, and public buildings. Only a small part of Olympia was covered by this first Sanborn map.

These overlays consist of two individual sheets, which you can turn on or off by clicking on the layer icon (), as well as setting opacity levels for each layer (use right arrow in the layer menu). There is also a layer that contains color-coded dots with links to historical features (see instruction page for more information on this feature). 

To view the map in full screen, link here (external link to ArcGIS Online)

 

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The Sanborn overlays: Olympia in 1891

The pace of Olympia’s growth accelerated with the introduction of a railroad line and statehood. Business was booming in 1891: a close look at the maps shows the erection of many fine masonry or brick buildings downtown, as well as factories and homes extending up to what is now Capitol Campus. Many of these still exist (as shown in the Where Are We? layer). A 3/4 mile long wharf had been built, extending into Budd Inlet to deep water (only part of which is included on the Sanborn maps). The Swantown Slough continued to divide the Eastside from downtown Olympia. West Olympia was still not covered in detail by Sanborn. The shoreline can be seen outlined in blue. 

These overlays consist of several individual sheets , which you can turn on or off by clicking on the layer icon (), as well as setting opacity levels for each layer (use right arrow in the layer menu). There is also a layer that contains color-coded dots with links to historical features (see instruction page for more information on this feature). We recommend you start with the overview for 1891, then click on various layers as desired. 

Click here for more detailed instructions and tips on using the Sanborn overlay feature. 

To view the map in full screen, link here (external link to ArcGIS Online)

 

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The Sanborn overlays: Olympia in 1908

Notable developments between 1891 and 1908 included the completion of the Old State Capitol building overlooking Sylvester Park and the establishment of an electric trolley system that went along Fourth Avenue and Main Street (now Capitol Way). Elaborate Eastside homes such as the Funk, William White, and Patnude houses were built in this time frame as well. And the onset of the automobile era was the final impetus for the paving of Olympia’s main streets. But the shorelines (outlined in blue) remained approximately as they had been late in the 19th century: the huge Carlyon Fill was still 5 years away. 

These overlays consist of many individual layers, which you can turn on or off by clicking on the layer icon (), as well as setting opacity levels for each layer (use right arrow in the layer menu). There is also a layer that contains color-coded dots with links to historical features (see instruction page for more information on this feature). We recommend you start with the overview layer, then click on various layers as desired. 

Click here for more detailed instructions and tips on using the Sanborn overlay feature. 


Story map created and copyright 2014 by J. Brian Hovis. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

To view the map in full screen, link here (external link to ArcGIS Online)

 

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The Sanborn overlays: Olympia in 1924 and 1947

This page includes overlay series for both 1924 and 1947. For the 1947 series, Sanborn re-used the 1924 maps and updated them by simply pasting any changes over the original maps. Some anomalies or errors exist: for example, the 1947 sheet for Capitol Campus fails to show the existence of the new diagonal streets, although the overview sheet does show them. We show the 1924 series in black and white and the 1947 series in color, which allows for easier toggling between the two sets. 

The Carlyon Fill of 1911-1912 created 23 new blocks in Olympia and filled in the Swantown Slough. The shoreline in 1924 and 1947 was much as we see it today; Capitol Lake and the Fifth Avenue Dam were still in the future, as was I-5. The port area continued to add land for the next few years, and was in flux while these maps were being created. Architect Joseph Wohleb created the Mission-style look of downtown Olympia and many other important buildings. Capitol Campus, west of Capitol Way, was largely completed. Industrial activity continued to expand between 1924 and 1947, and growth continued apace. 

These overlays consist of many individual layers, which you can turn on or off by clicking on the layer icon (), as well as setting opacity levels for each layer (use right arrow in the layer menu). There is also a layer that contains color-coded dots with links to historical features (see instruction page for more information on this feature). We recommend you start with overviews for 1924 and/or 1947, then click on various layers as desired. 

For more instructions and tips on using the overlays, click here.

 

Story map created and copyright 2015 and 2020 by J. Brian Hovis. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

To view the map in full screen, link here. This will also allow you to select layers and set transparency (external link to ArcGIS Online)

 

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Ralph’s Thriftway – 9/14/14

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Vibert Jeffers photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, 1958

Ralph’s Thriftway opened at its present location on State Avenue in 1956. It was a showcase for the very latest in grocery stores. It was also one of the largest stores in the northwest, and included a children’s play area, clothing department, and two leased areas, Bailey Pharmacy and Blue Ribbon Meats. This photograph, taken in 1958, shows the soda fountain and the pharmacy. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org

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Capitol Lake swimming area – 9/7/14

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Merle Junk photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, around 1968

This aerial photograph, taken around 1968, shows the bathing area of Capitol Lake, a popular summertime spot for Olympia’s families. The float in the lake was used for the Christmas Island display in wintertime. Not visible is the dressing area and restroom building, built in the 1960s. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org

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Avalon Theater – 8/31/14

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Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

The Avalon Theater was built in 1928, one of several movie theaters in downtown Olympia. The architect was Franklin Cox Stanton, who adopted the Mission style that characterizes much of downtown’s architecture. This photograph, by Vibert Jeffers, was taken in 1936. In later years this was the Griswold Office Supply building, which burned down in 2004. Today, only a portion of the facade remains. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org

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Olympia Oyster – 8/24/14

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Attribution: Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

This building was designed in 1924 by architect Joseph Wohleb as a packing and storage facility for the Olympia Oyster Company. This is the only remaining building from Olympia’s once-thriving oyster industry. It is now the site of the popular Olympia Oyster House, the front of which burned in 2013. It reopened in summer 2014. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

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Ruth Stubbs at Allison Springs – 8/17/14

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Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

Ruth Stubbs, now Ruth Stubbs Lewis, recalls that this photograph was taken as a publicity photograph for a calendar, in August of 1950. The Allison Trout Farms diverted Mud Bay’s Allison Creek into a privately owned set of artificially created pools and streams. Mrs. Lewis remembers the determination of the trout to break down the barriers that had been created to pen them in! In recent years, the South Puget Sound Enhancement Group has come to their rescue and restored the springs to their natural contribution to the McLane Creek estuary. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

 

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Armory – 8/10/14

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Attribution: Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

This photograph was taken in August of 1939 soon after the Armory building was completed. The building, on Legion Way and Eastside Street, was designed by Olympia’s preeminent architect, Joseph Wohleb, in an Art Deco style. This was a departure from the Mission style that characterized many of his earlier public buildings. The Armory served as a listening post for enemy aircraft during World War II. It is currently the home of the National Guard. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

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Fifth Avenue in 1942 – 8/3/14

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Attribution: Vibert Jeffers photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

Photographer Vibert Jeffers took this photograph in 1942, looking west down Fifth Avenue in downtown Olympia. Many of the buildings in this photograph remain today, including the Capitol Theater on the right side, the Donald building about halfway down the left side (now the home of Darby’s Cafe), and beyond it, Jeffers’s own studio, the Jeffers Building, now the home to the State of The Arts Gallery. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

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Fourth Avenue looking west – 7/27/2014

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Susan Parish Photograph Collection, Washington State Archives, undated postcard, about 1910

 

In this postcard photograph, taken about 1910, we are looking west up Fourth Avenue from Adams Street. Trolley tracks run down the center of the street. On the right side of the street, the building with the cupola is Columbia Hall, the original city hall and fire station. The White House, about halfway down the left side, is one of the only buildings in this photograph that exist today. It was a grocery store and rooming house. This postcard, along with others featuring Fourth Avenue and Capitol Way, can be viewed at the Olympia Historical Society’s display window in the New Caldonia Building on Fifth Avenue. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

 

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Anderson Apartments – 7/20/14

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Attribution: Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Photograph Collection, Washington State Archives, 1938

The Anderson Apartment building was located on North Capitol Way, adjacent to Zeigler’s Welding. Like other lodging establishments in this part of the city, many of its lodgers were men and women engaged in the port area’s industrial activities, such as seafaring, wood products, canning, and shellfish processing. This photograph by Vibert Jeffers was taken in 1938. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

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Acme Fuel Company at Capitol – 7/13/14

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Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Photograph Collection, Washington State Archives, 1935

The Acme Fuel Company was founded in 1925 by the Springer Mill Company as a way to sell off their waste wood products to homes for heating needs. They soon began selling coal and heating oil as those energy sources became more common. In this photograph from 1935, the company is advertising its new General Motors delivery truck, parked in front of the Legislative Building. The company has been owned by the same family, the Allens, since 1940. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

 

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Beer Cans at Broyles Market – 7/6/14

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Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives, July 1938

In this photograph from 1938, Olympia’s Broyles Grocery store is advertising “Beer in Keg Lined Cans.” Beer cans were first introduced in 1934, but only gained widespread acceptance during World War II, when they became popular with US Troops. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

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Wildwood Shopping Center – 6/29/14

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Olympia Centennial Souvenir Program, Southwest Regional Archives
The Wildwood Building (also known as the G.C. Valley Shopping Center) was the first shopping center built in Olympia, in 1938. The building was designed for owner G.C. Valley by Olympia architect Joseph Wohleb, as he transitioned from his signature Mission style into Art Moderne, which echoed the sleek streamlining of the automobile industry. This advertisement appeared in a newspaper supplement for Olympia’s centennial celebration in 1950. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.
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St. John’s Episcopal Church – 6-22-2014

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The St. John’s Episcopal congregation celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2014. The structure pictured here was the congregation’s second structure, built in 1888 at 9th Avenue and Washington Street. It is currently the home of First Baptist Church. The building is on the local heritage register. The image is taken from an 1891 publicity pamphlet produced by the Olympia Tribune. Image selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

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Fire at National Wood Pipe – 6/15/14

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In early days of western cities’ development, municipal water was conducted through threaded wooden pipes, a healthier and cheaper material than lead. Our thriving port, with its abundant nearby forest resources, was a natural location for wood-based industries. The National Wood Pipe Company established a factory at the north end of Olympia’s central peninsula (near the current Hands On Children Museum), shipping its products up and down the west coast.Unfortunately, a spectacular fire destroyed the factory in 1909. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

State Library Collection, Digital Archives

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Elks Club Caravan – 6/8/14

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In June 1933, the Studebaker company sponsored a group of Elks Club members on a journey from Los Angeles to Milwaukee, a promotion for their short-lived Rockne model. Here the group poses in front of Olympia’s Elks Club building on Capitol Way. The building is now on the local, state, and national heritage registers. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org.

Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

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Funeral Procession for Unclaimed Dead – 5/25/14

5-25-14spanishamericanfuneral

State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
On March 18, 1900, the City of Olympia was honored to host the funeral for unclaimed dead Spanish-American War soldiers from Washington State. This photograph shows the funeral procession, which began at the Olympia Opera House (near the current location of City Hall) to the Masonic Cemetery, where a bronze statue honors their resting place. Behind the funeral cortege is the grand Olympia Hotel, which burned in 1904. The Dolliver Building on Capitol Way stands at that location now.
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Centennial Parade – 5/13/2014

5-11-14bathingbeauties

Merle Junk photographer, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

On May 5, 1950, the City of Olympia celebrated its centennial with a parade. Here, a float, featuring bathing beauties over the decades, rounds the corner of Capitol and Fifth Avenue. The Funk-Volland Building is in the background, where Olympia Federal Savings is now. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org

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St. Martin’s College – 5/14/14

5-18-14st martin's
State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
St. Martin’s College in Lacey, Washington, now St. Martin’s University, was founded in 1895. In this early aerial photograph we see Old Main, constructed between 1913 and 1923, with the steam plant being the only other visible structure among the surrounding fields and forests. Photograph selected and captioned by the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information see olympiahistory.org
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Geographic Resources – Maps, Walking Tours, Interactive Maps

On this website

Where Are We? interactive map

External links

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Stevenson: Thurston County Markers

Marking Time: Thurston County Historical Markers
by Shanna B. Stevenson

Olympia: POSSCA, 1983.

Historical markers erected throughout the years by various groups to commemorate persons or events of local historical importance present a valuable resource and recognize in a special way our unique heritage. Listed here are markers throughout Thurston County which show in a tangible way the passing of time and are short detours along the road of history. The large number of markers in the county point up the rich history of the area and the pivotal events which have occurred here.

We owe a debt to the Washington State Historical Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution and other groups who have built the markers so that those that follow can appreciate their special way of marking time.

Text . Produced through a grant by POSSCA, Patrons of South Sound Cultural Activities. Copyright, 1983.

[Transcribed for Web, July, 2001.  Some markers no longer extant.]

 

CLARA BARTON
in front of the old courthouse, Capitol Way, Olympia.

In memory of Clara Barton by the National Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1932.

 

THE BIGELOW HOUSE
918 E. Glass, Olympia.

Built in 1854; the house which is among the oldest remaining buildings in the state, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Judge Daniel Bigelow, pioneer lawyer and legislator, constructed the house for his bride, Elizabeth White, The house has remained in the Bigelow family in almost original condition over the past 130 years.

 

BORDEAUX LOGGING COMPANY
located at the Bordeaux entrance to Capitol Forest southwest of Olympia.

The marker which has photographs of the Bordeaux brothers, the town and mill commemorates the now vacant site of the thriving Bordeaux family Mason County Logging Co. which in its heyday employed over 400 cutting lumber and making shingles at Bordeaux. The mill was begun in the early 1900’s and sold out to the state in 1941 when the lumber was depleted.

 

BUSH PRAIRIE OREGON TRAIL MARKER
8820 Old 99 in Tumwater.

The marker is part of the effort by the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution to mark the Oregon Trail in 1916. George Washington Bush, a man of color, came in 1845 to this area south of Tumwater named Bush Prairie in his honor with the first group of Americans to found a settlement north of the Columbia River.

 

FIRST CAPITOL BUILDING OF WASHINGTON
southeast corner of present Legislative Building on the Capitol Grounds.

Marking the site of the first Capitol Building of Washington Territory and State erected in 1855-56. Marked by the Sacajawea Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1928.

 

ANDREW CHAMBERS BLOCKHOUSE
6909 Rainier Rd. S.E., Olympia.

Site of the old blockhouse on the Andrew Chambers Donation Claim built in 1855. Placed by the Sacajawea Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution in 1929.

 

CIVIL WAR MEMORIAL
Masonic Cemetery in Olympia.

Erected in memory of the Union soldiers and sailors of the Civil War 1861-1865.

 

CLOVERFIELDS
1100 Carlyon Ave., S.E., Olympia.

Listed on the National Register in 1978, the house was built by Hazard Stevens, the son of First Territorial Governor, Isaac I. Stevens, in 1914. The farmhouse was the centerpiece of a large model dairy farm which Stevens called “Cloverfields” covering many of the adjoining acres.

 

EARL S. COE SPRUCE
northwest corner of the Legislative Building on the Capitol Grounds.

Dedicated in 1964, this blue spruce is in memory of Earl S. Coe who served as Washington State Secretary of State, legislator and Director of Conservation.

 

CROSBY HOUSE
Deschutes Parkway, Tumwater.

Designated a State Historical Place in 1971 and included in the Tumwater National Historic District in 1978, the Crosby House, built in 1858 by Nathaniel Crosby III, is a splendid example of early frame construction with Gothic embellishments.

 

FIFTH AVENUE BENCHES
along 5th Avenue in downtown Olympia.

Placed during a beautification program, the benches honor many prominent Olympia area residents: Carlton and Mabel Sears; Robert Henry Wohleb; Joseph Wohleb; Gerry Union; Harry Lindley; Preston M. Troy; G. Noyes Talcott; Doris and A. P. Jimmy Drees; Vibert Delmont Jeffers and Wenzella Cusack Jeffers; Earl Bean and Al Homann.

 

FIRST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE MEETING SITE
222 N. Capitol Way, Olympia.

Marked by the Washington State Historical Society in 1901, the plaque commemorates the first legislature which convened on February 28,1854 at this site in what was later the Gold Bar Restaurant, the largest hall in Olympia at that time.

 

FORT EATON MONUMENT
near the intersection of Yelm Highway and Meridian Road.

Erected in 1932 by area residents, the monument marks the site of one of the many stockades built in 1855-56 during the Indian Uprising in the district. A Kentucky-type station consisting of 16 log buildings connected by a high stocked [sic] in a square configuration, the fort housed a number of families on the Nathan Eaton property.

 

FORT HENNESS
183rd and Apricot Roads in Grand Mound.

Constructed in 1855, Fort Henness stood on a rise of ground on Mound Prairie and was occupied for about 16 months by over 200 men, women and children during the Washington blockhouse era of 1855-1856.

 

GRAND MOUND OREGON TRAIL MARKER
Intersection of Grand Mound Road and State Highway 12.

Part of the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution in the State of Washington efforts to mark the Oregon Trail in 1916.

 

GRAND MOUND MASONIC LODGE
near Grand Mound Cemetery.

Founded in 1857, the Masonic Lodge was the fourth in the state. Located at Fort Henness during Indian War Days, it was instituted as a military lodge. Sealed inside the marker which is patterned after the Washington Monument are a history of the lodge and Masonic souvenirs.

 

WILLIAM B. GREELEY MEMORIAL
one quarter mile west of Old Highway 99 on the south side of the highway from the Nisqually River Bridge.

Dedicated to William B. Greely, Forester, 1879-1955.

 

HOME OF THE FIRST TERRITORIAL GOVERNOR ISAAC INGALLS STEVENS AND FIRST STATE GOVERNOR ELISHA P. FERRY, 1856
north side of the Capital Grounds near Capitol Way, Olympia.

Marked by the Sacajawea Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1924. Adjoining the marker are 13 Yoshino cherry trees in the Bicentennial Grove, a gift from Japan in 1976.

 

MILLERSYLVANIA STATE PARK
11 miles south of Olympia.

A monument honoring the Miller Family, Frederick J. X. Miller, Christine Mary Miller, and Mathilda Sophia Miller who in 1921 gave the 841-acre park to the people of the state to be used as a state park forever. Marked by the Washington State Historical Society in 1940.

 

MIMA MOUNDS NATURAL PRESERVE
through Littlerock off 1-5 to Waddell Creek Road and one mile in on gravel road.

Interpretive center featuring displays concerning this geological phenomenon.

 

MOTHER JOSEPH STATUE
inside the north entry of the Legislative Building, Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

Sculpted by Felix W. de Weldon, the kneeling statue is a replica of Washington’s representative to Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. An architect, construction worker, and fund raiser, the Catholic nun arrived in Washington Territory in 1856 and during the next 46 years established 29 schools, orphanages, hospitals and shelters for the aged and mentally ill.

 

OAK TREE
Boundary and Legion in Olympia.

This oak was brought saddleback from Steilacoom plains by D. S. B. Henry, surveyor, and planted on this homestead in the year 1872.

 

OLD CAPITOL BUILDING
600 block Washington St., Olympia.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the Old Capitol Building housed state government from 1905 to 1928. Originally built as the Thurston Co. Courthouse in 1892 it was purchased and enlarged by the state in 1901. The building was restored in 1983.

 

EMMA PAGE FOUNTAIN
Sylvester Park, Olympia.

Erected by the Womer’s Christian Temperance Union in memory of Emma Page. A child of God; Protector of the dumb; Friend of all humanity.

 

DIXY LEE RAY SEQUOIA
Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

Planted in 1980 in honor of the first woman governor, Dixie Lee Ray.

 

RESERVE FLEET MEMORIAL
off 47th Avenue and Boston Harbor Road, Olympia.

Placed by the U.S. Department of Commerce Maritime Administration in 1972, it recognizes the Olympia National Defense Reserve fleet which lay in Budd Inlet from March 1946 to June 1972.

 

JOHN ROGERS STATUE
Sylvester Park, Olympia.

Donated by the children of Washington, the statue honors Rogers, governor and legislator of Washington who authored the Barefoot School Boy Law which equalized public education statewide.

 

ETHEL-ROSELLINI RHODODENDRON
northwest comer of the Legislative Building on the Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

This sweet scented rhododendron, Washington state flower, called “Ethel Rosellini” in honor of the wife of former governor Albert Rosellini, was originated and presented to the State off Washington by Joe A. Lewis, head gardener, 1964.

 

TOLMIE STATE PARK
eight miles northeast of Olympia.

The park has an interpretive site concerning Dr. William Fraser Tolmie, medical officer with Hudson’s Bay Co. for whom the park is named.

 

TOTEM POLE
Capitol Campus, Olympia.

Carved by Chief William Shelton of the Snohomish tribe from a cedar tree in 1940, the 71 foot totem pole is designed in the Salish tradition of an interior house post, and features many of the symbols of Northwest Indian legends.

 

TUMWATER OREGON TRAIL MARKER
west end of Deschutes River Bridge, Tumwater.

Marked by the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution in 1916.

 

TUMWATER, SIMMONS MONUMENT
Tumwater Falls Park, Tumwater.

Honoring the arrival at Tumwater of the fimt American colony on Puget Sound, October, 1845, led by Michael T. Simmons. The marker first erected in 1916 lists all of the members of that pioneering group.

 

TUMWATER STATE HIGHWAY MARKER
Capitol Way, Tumwater.

Recognizing the first American party on Puget Sound at New Market, later Tumwater, which was called Spa-kwatl by the Indians for the cascading falls of the Deschutes River.

 

TUMWATER HISTORIC DISTRICT
Tumwater.

Placed on the National Register in 1978, the district encompasses 30 acres and includes the Tumwater Historical Park, Henderson House Museum, Schmidt House and Crosby House.

 

TUMWATER BRIDGE TOTEMS
Capitol Way, Tumwater.

Bridge markers for the site of the first American pioneer settlement in Washington; south gateway to the Puget Sound Country and the Olympic Peninsula, entrance to the City of Olympia, capital of the State of Washington, and beginning of the inside passage to British Columbia and Alaska.

 

VIETNAM MEMORIAL
Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

Placed in 1982, the granite monument encases 1001 names of those killed in Vietnam from Washington State.

 

WASHINGTON ELMS
Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

Two elms one the scion of the other which was damaged in the Columbus Day storm of 1962 stand as memorials to the Washington Elm at Cambridge, Massachusetts where George Washington took command of the American Army in 1775. Planted in 1932 by the Sacajawea Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the original elm and its scion are at the north end of the campus.

 

WHITE HOUSE
E. 11th and Central, Olympia.

Built in 1893 by William H. White, a carpenter and lumberman, the house is an outstanding example of Queen Anne and Eastlake architectural styles with intricate fretwork, a turret and omate bargeboards. Placed on the State Register of Historic Places in 1977, it stands in an area of Olympia once known as Swantown.

 

VIOLA KENYON
in front of the old county courthouse, Capitol Way, Olympia.

In memory of Viola Kenyon by the National Woman’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1932.

 

LEGISLATIVE BUILDING CORNERSTONE
northeast comer of Legislative Building, Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

Laid by the Masonic Grand Lodge of F and AM of Washington on September 9, 1922 by James McCormack, Grand Master.

 

LONE TREE
at the State Capitol Museum, 211 W. 2 lot St., Olympia.

A seedling from the Grays Harbor “Lone Tree” which served as a maritime beacon since it guided Captain Robert Gray to the harbor in 1792. Placed in 1961 to honor Charles Tallmadge Conover who named Washington “The Evergreen State.”

 

LORD MEMORIALS
State Capitol Museum, 211 W. 21st in Olympia.

Memorializing Clarence J. Lord and Mary Elizabeth Reynolds Lord who built the home and later gave it to the State of Washington to create the State Capitol Museum in 1939.

 

MASONIC MEETING PLACE
on the south side of Olympia St., between Capitol Way and Washington St.

Marking the first meeting place of Olympia Lodge No. 1 of the F and AM of Washington, the first in Washington.

 

McCLEARY HOUSE
111 W. 21st in Olympia.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the impressive Henry McCleary House in Olympia was built between 1923 and 1925 at a cost of over $100,000. The house stands as a personal expression of the wealth and prestige which surrounded one of Washington’s great lumber barons.

 

MEDAL OF HONOR MONUMENT
State Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

A replication of the Washington State Monument in Medal of Honor grove at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, listing Washington’s recipients of this high honor.

 

MEDICINE CREEK TREATY MARKERS – SHE-NAH-NAM
at the intersection of 7th Ave. S.E. and Old Pacific Highway near Nisqually.

Commemorating the Medicine Creek Treaty Tree where Governor Isaac Stevens held council with Nisqually, Puyallup, and Squaxin Indians, December 24-26, 1856. Placed by the Washington State Historical Society, 1922.

Also marked by the Washington State Highway Commission one-quarter mile west of Nisqually River Bridge on Old Pacific Highway 99.
Marked by Timberline High School Students in 1976 by a metal ball and time capsule placed near the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 overlooking the treaty tree on the Nisquafly River Delta.

 

RUDDELL CEMETERY
Mullen and Ruddell Road, Lacey.

Marked in 1917 by the Washington State Historical Society to commemorate the cemetery where many of the county’s earliest residents are buried. Marked also by Gwin Hicks in 1917 to honor many of his forebears buried there. The cemetery was rededicated in 1977.

 

SPANISH WAR MEMORIAL
Masonic Cemetery near Cleveland Avenue, Tumwater.

The State of Washington erected this monument in memory of her valiant sons.

 

EDMUND SYLVESTER MARKER
Sylvester Park, Olympia.

Bench placed in honor of Edmund Sylvester, 1821-1887, founder of Olympia and donor of Sylvester Park.

 

SYLVESTER PARK OREGON TRAIL MARKER
Sylvester Park, Olympia.

Marked in 1913 by the Sacajawea Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution as the end of the Oregon Trail. Placed at the site of a blockhouse of the 1855-56 era.

 

TENINO DEPOT
Tenino.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the depot now used as the Tenino Museum was built in 1914 of native sandstone.

 

TENINO EZRA MEEKER OREGON TRAIL MARKER
north end of Main in Tenino.

Meeker first crossed the plains in 1852 and settled in Puyallup. In 1906 at the age of 75 he retraced the Oregon Trail eastward by ox team in an effort to draw attention to the pioneer past. This was the first of many dedicated by Meeker along the route.

 

TENINO OREGON TRAIL MARKER
one-half mile north of Tenino.

Marked in 1916 by the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution.

 

TENINO VETERANS MEMORIAL
near pool site east of town across railroad tracks, Tenino.

Memorial to the veterans of Tenino and vicinity by the Tenino Lions Club.

 

TERRITORIAL SUNDIAL
Capitol Campus, Olympia.

John Elliot created seven hand-hammered brass panels which depict historical moments in Washington territorial history.

 

TIME CAPSULE
oval between the Temple and legislative Building, Capitol Campus, Olympia.

Buried for the Territorial Centennial of Washington 1953, the capsule contains over 300 items including news clippings, historical books and pamphlets, stamps, photographs and poetry.

 

TIME CAPSULE
center of the vestibule of the north entry of the Legislative Building, Capitol Campus, Olympia.

Buried by Governor Dan Evans to commemorate the 1976 Bicentennial, the capsule contains seeds, quilts, photographs, Indian arts, maps, preserved salmon, Olympia Beer can and a model of a space craft.

 

MARCUS WHITMAN STATUE
inside the north entry of the Legislative Building, Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

Sculpted by Avard Fairbanks, this replica of Washington’s representative to Statuary Hall, Washington, D.C., shows Marcus Whitman, first graduate of an American medical school to practice west of the Rockies, and leader of the first wagon train over what was to become the Oregon Trail. He and his wife settled at Waiilatpu in eastern Washington in 1836 to minister to Indians. They met their death at the mission in 1847.

 

WOMEN’S CLUB OF OLYMPIA
1002 S. Washington St., Olympia.

Entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the clubhouse built in 1908 is home of the Olympia Women’s Club founded in 1883 and one of the oldest women-only clubs on the West Coast.

 

WOODLAND DRIVING PARK
Clearbrook and Yonkers Drive, Lacey

On this site stood one of the premier sulky home racing facilities in the west which attracted hundreds of patrons around the turn of the century. Erected by the Lacey Historical Commission, 1983.

 

WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL
Capitol Grounds, Olympia.

The heroic monument has three larger than life fighting men and a Red Cross nurse under the protective care of a winged victory figure designed by Victor Alonzo Lewis in 1938 to honor Washington veterans.

 

EDWIN HOWARD WRIGHT MEMORIAL
Salvation Army, 505 Adams St., Olympia.

Dedicated to Wright in 1952.
UNMARKED HISTORIC REGISTER PROPERTIES NATIONAL REGISTER
Seatco Prison Site, off Washington Highway 507 in Bucoda
C. J. Lord Mansion, 211 W. 219st, Olympia.
Olympia [Carnegie] Public Library, South Franklin and East 7th, Olympia.
Charles Patnude House, 1239 8th Ave., Olympia.
Thurston County Courthouse, Capitol Way, Olympia.
U.S. Post Office, 801 Capitol Way, Olympia.
Washington State Capitol Historic District State Capitol Campus, Olympia.
Mottman Building, 101 North Capitol Way, Olympia.
Capitol Boulevard Crossing Bridge, spans Deschutes River, Tumwater.

STATE REGISTER
Bucoda Shead House, 206 Main, Bucoda.
Giles House, 727 West Bay Drive, Olympia.
Lane House, 1205 West Bay Drive, Olympia.
Old Olympia City Hall, West State and North Capitol Way, Olympia.
Steele House, 1010 S. Frankfin, Olympia.
Lower Custer Way Crossing, spans Deschutes River, Tumwater.

END

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Chambers Block in 1891 – 5/4/14

chambers_block_then

The Olympia Tribune published a promotional brochure in 1891 highlighting important people and places in and around Olympia. This image is of the Chambers Block at Fourth Avenue and Main Street (now Capitol Way), then and now the center of Downtown Olympia. The building still exists. Its ornate parapets and bay windows were severely damaged during the 1949 earthquake. Washington State Library collection. Image selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org

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Ann Olson

A native Washingtonian, Ann was born in eastern Washington and raised in Tacoma. She moved to Olympia in January, 1971 and for most of those nearly 47 years has been active in the community. As her children were growing up she had a strong interest in their various activities and education volunteering with many youth programs and educational endeavors. Ann is a past state PTA president and past national PTA vice president serving on those boards over 10 years. Locally Ann co-chaired the Olympia Citizens for Schools levy campaign with Dick Pust from 1982 until 2015.

Ann’s interest in history and genealogy began at a young age when she used to draw pedigree charts of her family. Her mother’s paternal side came to the Dayton, Washington area in the early 1860’s where the first of four consecutive generations were born, Ann being the 4th. Continuing that interest, in 1974 Ann was one of the founders of the Olympia Genealogical Society where she held every elected office and twice served as president. She continues as a board member chairing the Beginner’s Genealogy Workshop held annually at the Olympia library. She is also the society’s annual Spring Seminar registrar, which she has done for a number of years.

A docent at the Governor’s Mansion since the mid 1970’s, Ann was encouraged to seek a tour guide position at the state capitol. She retired in 2011 after 17 years of providing civic

educational tours to 100’s of school children, youth and adults from around the world – a job she thoroughly enjoyed.

Ann was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Governor’s Mansion Foundation in the early 1990’s where she served as the Foundation’s historian. In 2008 Ann co-chaired the Governor’s Mansion Centennial Garden Party held on the front lawn of the mansion. Over 300 guests attended, most in period costume, including then Governor Gregoire and First Gentleman Mike. In 2015 Ann was elected treasurer of GMF and is currently serving a second term in that position.

Ann served on the committees to celebrate the centennial of the Temple of Justice in 2013, our state’s 125th birthday party in 2014 (she was in charge of the giant 3’ by 5’ cake decorated with a historical map of the state), and the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015.

A 33-year member of the local Sacajawea Chapter of the DAR, Ann is finishing her second term as registrar. She is also the chapter’s parliamentarian. She is a life member of the Pioneers of Washington and a 35 plus- year member of the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington where she is a trustee on the state board. Locally, she belongs to Olympia Chapter #4 which manages and operates the Crosby House Museum in Tumwater. She is serving her second term as president of the chapter. Chapter Daughters opened the house as part of the OHS/BHM Holiday Tour of Homes in 2015. She is part of the South Sound Historical Association as well as the group supporting the new Thurston County Journal. She has participated in the History Conferences put on by Don Trosper with the Olympia/Tumwater Foundation and, dressing in period costume, she has manned a booth at the Thurston County Through the Decades event. Ann most recently served on a group providing input to the City of Olympia officials regarding community arts, culture and heritage.

In her genealogical research, she finds she is a distant relative of the Bigelow family.

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Olympia High School – 4/27/14

Olympia High School Capitol Way

State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives,http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov

 
The institution formally named William Winlock Miller High School, but  known by all as Olympia High School, has existed at three locations. The second location, featured here, was built in 1919, on Capitol Way between 12th and 13th, on what is now East Capitol Campus. It was originally a three-story brick building with a parapet. An addition was built to the rear in 1926. The building was torn down in 1961 to make way for the Capitol Campus expansion. Photograph selected and captioned by Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. For more information, see olympiahistory.org
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Mosquito Fleet at Percival Landing – 4/20/14

mosquito fleet for blog

In the days when Puget Sound was the equivalent of our Interstate 5, dozens of small, privately owned steam-driven freight and passenger vessels, dubbed the Mosquito Fleet, plied the waterways between Olympia, at the southern end, all the way to Vancouver, in British Columbia. In this photograph, probably from the 1890s, three sternwheelers – the Northern Light, City of Shelton and Multnomah – are all pulled up at Percival Landing, in Olympia. State Library Photograph Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov

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Sapp, Bernice: Olympia 100 Years Ago

[This article by local historian Bernice Sapp was included in Gordon Newell’s small book, “So Fair a Dwelling Place,” fully transcribed here by Ed Echtle. Miss Sapp wrote this about 1950, so her title, Olympia 100 Years Ago, is not meant to be taken literally. Ed Echtle has helpfully created a Google Earth map pinpointing the locations spoken of in this article. In addition, where Miss Sapp refers to locations included in Where Are We? we will be inserting hyperlinks to those pages as time permits]

 


View Olympia 100 Years Ago by Bernice A Sapp in a larger map

In the area bounded by the then waterfront, Second Street and Third Street (now
State), and Fourth Street and Columbia and Washington, was most of Olympia 100 years
ago. Crowded in these few blocks were all of the buildings of the Town of Olympia, laid
out by Sylvester in 1850 and incorporated as a town in 1859.
Here was the home of Levi Lathrop Smith, first owner of the townsite of Olympia;
he lived in a log cabin which was shared by Edmund Sylvester, his partner. A building
which Sylvester built later contained the famous Gold Bar Restaurant.  Upstairs, the first
legislature of the Territory was held in 1854. Facing Second Street was the first Masonic
Temple. On one corner was Bettman’s Store; on the other were the buildings of Governor
Stevens surveying party. Percivals and Munsons lived down there, and on the corner where
the City Hall is, stood the stable of Rice Tilley, owner of the first Overland Stages. Across
the street was the New England Hotel and the Pacific House – two early hotels of Olympia.
Here Stevens stopped after his long overland journey.

p92

On the corner of Second and Washington stood the building which housed the
Washington Standard for over half a century. Next door, the home of John Miller Murphy,
proprietor and editor of the Washington Standard. Murphy was a brother-in-law of George
A. Barnes who had a general merchandise store in the next block. Barnes also started the
first bank in the Territory which still stands just south of the Daily Olympian building. The
site of the Daily Olympian once was a two-story brick building built by Charles
Burmeister, a saloon keeper. Becky Howard, a negro woman, ran the Pacific House, owned
and built by Colonel Cock.
Over on Columbia Street were John Clark and family who ran the Columbia Hotel.
On the corner of Columbia and Third (now State) was a wagon shop. The top floor, or
story, of the wagon shop was Olympia’s first theater. A furniture store across the street
became the scene of an early school conducted by Annie Stevens. Around the block on
Main Street was the Woodruff Building; one of the first music stores was below, and one
of the first post offices.
On the northwest corner of Main and Fourth stood the residence of Sam Williams,
the hardware man. This house is still here, having been moved to a location just south of
the Y.M.C.A. North of Williams’ house stood his hardware store. After the house was
moved away, Toklas and Kauffman had a drygoods store on the corner, where Mottman’s
Store is now. On the southwest corner was the scene of the first circus.
On the northeast corner was the first water system in Olympia – a town pump where
Indians and whites came to draw water and exchange gossip. Maybe this was the reason
the newspapers have remained on the block so long. Afterwards, the Chambers Building
was erected on this corner and still stands there.
On the southeast corner of Main and Fourth was the Turner Block, built by Dr.
George Turner, the first licensed pharmacist in the Territory. Many governors had offices
in this block, upstairs and handy to the “Capitol”, just across the street. In the Chambers
Block, in an early day, Julian Guyot, formerly of Switzerland, became the first jeweler in
the Territory of Washington. Talcotts came later, in 1873, but have continued in business
all the years. George and Grant Talcott were the makers of the State Seal.
Continuing on around the block on Fourth Street and Washington stood the home
of Thos. Prather, early Indian fighter, who lived to be nearly 90 years old. Across the
street, on the northeast corner of Washington and Fourth, was the home of Burmeister, also
his saloon. On the southeast corner of Fourth and Washington, where the Security Building
stands, was Mann’s Drug Store. Across the alley, on Washington, was the old Odd Fellow’s
Hall, where one of the early schools was conducted by Mary O’Neill. Across Washington
street on

p93

the other corner by the alley was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Ott, also from
Switzerland – with them were their sons, Walter and Henry, and daughter, Gertrude, now
Gertrude Ott Martin. Then on the northwest corner of Fifth and Washington stood the
Tilley home; across on the southwest corner of Fifth and Washington, Doane’s Restaurant,
home of the Oyster Pan Roast, and rendezvous, of Captain Woodbury Doane, a retired sea
captain.
On the southeast corner of Fifth and Washington, about midway of the block, was
the home of Thomas Milburn Reed, Territorial Auditor. The Olympic Theater stands about
where the Reed home stood. Reed built the block on the northeast corner of Washington
and Sixth (now Legion Way). Where the Olympian Hotel stands, stood the home of
Tarbells; north of them were Hamer’s, the first undertaker, and west of them, Carroll’s,
parents of Mrs. Walter Beals. South of Carroll’s, on the southeast [northeast] corner of
Capitol Way and Legion Way where the new building for Miller Brothers is, was the home
of Governor Stevens.
Where the Harris’ Store was, stood Grainger’s Livery Stable, operated by Wm.
Littlejohn. Grainger’s house was across on the other side of Main Street. On the northeast
corner of Main and Sixth, [Capitol and Legion] where

p94

Penney’s Store is now, was the home of Peterfield Turpin. On the southwest corner of
Main and Sixth stood the Charles Talcott residence.
Next, going south, was the Ike Ellis house where the Elks’ building stands; then the
Episcopal Church where the Hotel Governor stands. Next was the Unitarian Church in the
middle of Seventh, and then the T. I. McKenney House. Then in succession, a block-
house, burned up; U.S. Land Office, burned down; Olympia Hotel Building, which burned
in 1904 – all where the Post Office is now.  On the southeast corner of Main and Sixth, at
the corner of Sylvester Park, was a block-house used in Indian War days. After the war, it
was used as a jail. Speaking of jails – one of the earliest was the large brick jail, two stories
high, which stood about where the flats are in back of the First Presbyterian Church on
Legion Way. The jail was there long after the turn of the century, until it was torn down.
Why a jail in a place like that? Well, the courthouse from an early day was only a block
away on the southeast corner of Legion Way and Washington; afterwards the courthouse
was on the northwest corner of Legion Way and Franklin. Then, in 1890, the large stone
courthouse was built which is now a part of the old downtown Capitol, facing Sylvester
Park.
Edmund Sylvester’s house was erected in 1857 on Eighth Street, between
Washington and the present Capitol Way. He donated the land for Sylvester Park, and land
for the Masonic Temple, and 10 acres for the Capitol grounds.
Across the street is the Thornton McElroy house, another old land- mark. Where
the bus station is, was the Harris house, still standing on another location at 7th and
Adams. At Seventh and Adams are the old Harris house, the Alexander Farquhar house
and the T.M. Reed house, all made over into apartment houses. On Eighth and Jefferson
still stands the remains of the old Jefferson Hotel constructed by Farquhar. It was once
known as the Capitol Hotel – now is the Baird.
Farquhar once built and owned a huge barn down on the waterfront on Seventh and
Jefferson, which fell down in a snowstorm, killing his stock. The hardware store he had on
the southeast corner of Seventh and Adams was later used as a legislative building, was the
scene of a Governor’s Ball, was used as the State Printing Office, and last, as the State
Armory, harboring the supplies of the Adjutant General’s office. On the southwest corner
of Eighth and Adams, is the old Territorial manse of the First Presbyterian Church [moved here around 1910 from original site near Franklin and Legion]. Next
door is the old home of Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, a pioneer physician, who was a member
of the Cowlitz Convention at Monticello which sent the Memorial to Congress to create
the Territory of Washington. This house was built about 1875. He also built around the
block, which he owned, houses for his daughters as they married; the Walter Crosby house,
the Fanny Moore house, the Mike O’Connor house, are all in the block. (The O’Connor
house has been torn down.)

p95

Further south on Adams Street are the McFadden house; the William Billings
house, home of the pioneer sheriff; the old school house [building at current location at Union and Adams]; the Howard flat, built by a son of
Becky Howard; the old Ben John’s house, built by a pioneer schoolteacher who held the
first kindergarten in her living room (Mrs. Houghton). The Fidelia Boyd house on 11th and
Adams has been torn down, but her first home is still standing on Franklin Street. She was
the first Mrs. Baker, then Mrs. George Turner, then Mrs. Boyd. Bush Baker is her son.
There are an endless number of old houses all over Olympia: the Chambers house,
on Water Street; the Anders house, on 19th and Capitol Way; some old houses on Maple
Park; the William Sternberg house and old waterwheel was on East Union Street; Ike Ellis
logging camp in that vicinity.
I am returning now to East Bay Drive in order to get in a school building. I almost
overlooked the Olympia Collegiate Institute at Second and Pear. It was organized in 1875
and operated until the early ’90s as a school for the whole northwest. This school is
deserving of a marker.
The old Bigelow home is on Glass Street. The first water system in Olympia was
on East Bay Drive, built by Wm. Horton, and the second brewery in Olympia was East
Bay Drive; the Robert Frost home was there; the Sally Eaton home; the Pattison home was
on Second Street; the Galliher’s donation claim was down toward the park. The
Whitworth’s was in back of the park, the St. Joseph’s Mission just outside the entrance of
the park. The land was acquired for this mission in 1848. An Indian graveyard just south of
the Mission.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS ON FRANKLIN STREET

Starting at Fourth Avenue, going south, the Olympic Hotel is on the site of an early
theater in Olympia, at Fourth and Franklin on the southeast corner. On the southeast corner
of the next block was the C. B. Mann house where Mann’s Seed Store is now. Next was the
J. J. Gilbert house (house torn down). He was head man of the U. S. Geodetic Coast
Survey. Next stands the Chas. Williams house. This once stood where Mottman’s Store is
now at Fourth and Main. On the southwest corner of Franklin and Fifth Street stood the
first real telephone building in Olympia. They had a telephone company before that, but
they were always in rented buildings. The home of Williamson, the logger, was next, high
on the hill. Next south of that, on the hillside, was the first American schoolhouse, north of
Columbia River and west of the Rocky Mountains, on the northeast corner of Franklin and
Sixth Street (Legion Way). Later in this building were the Courthouse and the Daily
Olympian Building.

p96

On the opposite corner, on the southeast corner of Legion Way, and Franklin
Street, was the First Presbyterian Church, erected in 1862.  Olympia had the first church of
this denomination organized north of the Columbia River on the shores of Puget Sound.
The church itself was organized in 1854 in a cooper shop on Fifth and Columbia, but held
Sunday School and church for eight or ten years in the old schoolhouse on the opposite
corner of Legion and Franklin. This church building is still standing and is used by Gloria
Dei Lutheran Church (on Adams between Legion Way and 5th).
On the west side of the next block stands the old Thurston County Courthouse,
built in 1892 and added onto about 1905 for a Capitol. Next to the Presbyterian Church and
across the alley was a low piece of ground where stood the home of Jack Baldwin, pioneer
logger. This house was afterwards occupied by Captain Hatch of Steamboat fame. The
house stood there until the present public [Carnegie] library was built on the spot. The lot
was filled in. As evidence that the lot was low, notice the holes in the sidewalk on the
Seventh Avenue side for a fence which was there once. Across the way on the opposite
side is the old Kauffman house, owned by the man who had the Kauffman store. The
Kauffman house is an ancient edifice with a square roof and a small balcony on the upper
story. South of the Kauffman home is the John Scott and Mary Jane Scott house. He was
an early saloon keeper. She had lived here nearly all of her 82 years, having come from
Liverpool, England at the age of two. Next south of that on the northeast corner of Franklin
and Eighth Street was the house of Sam Willey, a pioneer logger. This home was
afterwards occupied by some people who were related to the Willeys and the house was
known as the Leighton house.
On the southwest corner of Eighth and Franklin were the five houses built by
Lafayette Willey, and occupied for most of his life by Sam. Willey II, his son, who lived in
the corner house and rented the others. They are still standing there. The elder Willey
logged with ox teams, then was the owner of the Willey Navigation Company which
operated steamboats on Puget Sound. Sam Willey II was born here and lived here all his
life.
On the northeast corner of Eighth and Franklin is the site of the old First Christian
Church, organized in 1890; this building was torn down. It occupied most of the corner.
South of the Willey houses and on the northwest corner of Ninth and Franklin is the old
Bettman house. He was a pioneer merchant, having one of the first stores in town at the
corner of Second and Main Street. (The old Bettman store near Fourth and Capitol Way is
still there, but was recently sold to a new concern after nearly 100 years in business in
Olympia.) West of the Bettman house is the Oppenheimer house, belonging to a son-in-
law of Bettman.
The block bounded by Eighth and Ninth, and Adams and Franklin, was known as
the Ostrander Block, so called for Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, pioneer physician, who arrived
in Olympia about 1875 and thereafter built most of the old houses in the block. Besides the
Ostrander house, facing Eighth Street, are the Fanny Moore house

p97

still standing, and the Michael O’Connor house which stood on the northeast corner of
Ninth and Franklin, and which was torn down in 1948.
Next east of that was the Walter Crosby house and next the Pixler house which
formerly was the Ostrander barn. East of that, on the corner, was the large house known as
the Billings house, occupied by Janette Billings, the widow of William Billings, pioneer
sheriff. Just south of that, on the next corner, is the little old house where the Billings lived
in the early ’70s; here Frederick Billings was born. Billings, about 1874, built a brick
house, one of the first in the Territory, on the lot where now stands the Mottman house at
9th and Washington. The next block, bounded by Ninth and Tenth streets, and Adams and
Franklin, was known as the Brown Block. Mrs. Brown was a sister of Edmund Sylvester.
Their house stood on the northwest corner of Tenth and Adams. There were several Mrs.
Browns in those days, and to distinguish them, they were known as: Cold-Water Brown or
Presbyterian Brown.
On the block bounded by Ninth and Tenth, and Franklin and Washington, were two
of the early pioneer churches of Olympia. On the southwest corner of Ninth and Franklin
was the Unitarian Church, built by that denomination, and also the flats facing Tenth
Street; these flats were known as the Unitarian flats. This church was bought years later by
the Baptist denomination. On the opposite side of the block, facing Washington, is the old
Episcopal Church, built about 1890 and still in use. The old Episcopal manse, or Parish
House, which stood for many years on the southeast corner of Ninth and Washington
streets, was torn down years ago to make room for the new Parish House. Down in back of
the Parish House stood the old Holman house, one of the oldest houses in town. (Mrs. Fred
Sylvester is a grand-daughter of Holman; Arno Glidden is a grandson). Where the Baptist
Church stands, once stood a sawmill in the early days, a log pond was in the block, and the
bay was not far away to the east.
On the southeast corner of Tenth and Franklin is the palatial residence, on a hill, of
Sam Williams, the pioneer hardware man. This is the second house he built. (He was a
brother of Mrs. Harry McElroy.) West of that is the Addie Wood house, and next the
Woman’s Clubhouse. On that corner once stood the home of Judge Sparks. This home was
used for years as a Woman’s Clubhouse until the present clubhouse was built in 1908.
Then the Sparks house was moved over to Adams in the middle of the block between
Ninth and Tenth streets. Here the first Christian Science Church was organized and used
the building as a church until they built the present Christian Science Church building on
the southeast corner of Eighth and Washington. Here once stood the home of G. Rosenthal,
pioneer merchant.
Going south from the Woman’s Clubhouse is the home of Helen Cowles and J.
Todd Cowles; her brother and Annie Cowles Claypool, born in Olympia. On the northeast
corner of Washington and Union, where the home of Mrs. J. W. Mowell now stands, once
stood one of the most historic school buildings in Olympia. This was first built for the

p98

Puget Sound Wesleyan Institute, then bought for a courthouse, then leased for a young
ladies seminary, and last was the old Central School. It was moved to the southwest corner
of Union and Adams in two pieces and still stands there – the main part facing Union and
the other part facing Adams. To this school from the earliest days trooped the children of
the pioneers. Among these pupils of Old Central School was Harry Crosby, the father of
Bing Crosby. John Miller Murphy, pioneer newspaperman, attended the old institute.
On the southwest corner of Tenth and Adams is the old Kearney house, on the hill.
On the northwest corner of Union and Franklin stands the G. F. Kearney house recently
sold for a Y.W.C.A. Across the street, on the northeast corner of Union and Franklin, is the
old Woodard house, and north of that the old Dr. J. M. Steele house – over 85 years old.
Next west of the old schoolhouse, on the corner of Union and Adams, is the old home of
Mrs. Raggermeyer, a German woman, who ran a private school in her home. She taught
German, French and music.
On the southeast corner of Washington and Union, on a high point of ground, is the
old Rose [Ross?] O’Brien house, occupied so many years by the daughter, Hazel Aetzel –
now her daughter, Virginia and husband live there (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schmidt). So this
makes about the fifth generation of that family to live in Olympia; on that same property is
a little old house where once lived John B. Allen, a United States Senator, the first librarian
in the Territory.
On the southwest corner of Twelfth and Adams is the William Campbell house. He
was an old pioneer who became blind crossing the plains. The house is very old and of a
type commonly built in pioneer days – large fireplace, a large pantry, big hall, etc. On the
northeast corner of Adams and Twelfth stand the Howard Flats, part of which are occupied
by a grocery store. These flats were built by the son of Becky Howard, a Negro woman,
who ran the Pacific House. The son was a mixture of Negro, Chinese and Indian [sic].
On the southeast corner of Twelfth and Adams is the old B. F. Johns property, but
he didn’t build it. It was built by a family by the name of Houghton. Mrs. Houghton taught
the first kindergarten in town. Two of her star pupils were Carrie Williams, afterwards
Carrie McElroy, and George Tarbell. She taught them their French and Latin. George
Tarbell lived in this same house when he was 85 years old, when the house was sold. Mrs.
Houghton taught the Masonic Temple School also.
On the southeast corner of Franklin and Eleventh (or maybe 12th) is a high level
piece of ground. On it, at the back of the lot, is the old Paisley house. In this house once
lived Fidelia Baker Turner Boyd. She had just come west from old Kentucky, and had
brought along a negro for a servant. She lived there for years until she moved to Eleventh
and Adams where she died when she was past 90 years of age. (Gladys Horton Johnson is
a grand-daughter.)
A house that is one of the oldest and has one of the most interesting histories is the
old William Winlock Miller house at about Cherry and

p99

Eighth Avenues. The house sets back from Eighth Street, in a grove of trees, which is
known as the orchard. He was Quartermaster General for Governor Isaac Stevens during
the Indian War. It is presumed that he built the house about that time – in the middle ’50s.
The old house has a very large kitchen as was customary in those days. The boards in the
floors of the kitchen and the other rooms were very wide, almost a foot, and of rough
lumber. The panels of the rooms were of boards placed up and down, or stood on end. The
Olympia High School was named after this man, because his widow gave a block of land
in the present Capitol grounds for the high school in 1908. This is one of the historic
houses or spots in Olympia that should be marked. It is down by the railroad tracks and I
think is owned by the railroad. The Martensens lived on this property in an early day. One
of the Martensen girls married George A. Mottman. The other girl became Mrs. Harbst.
Emil Martensen was a brother. Mrs. Chris Nommensen was one of the Martensen girls.
Down in that same vicinity, on Jefferson Street and Tenth, stands an old, weather-
beaten, unpainted, forlorn-looking house – standing back among the trees. That is the first
priest’s house, for the Catholic parish, and was moved there years ago from Tenth and
Columbia streets. Where Temple Beth Hatfiloh stands, near the corner of Eighth and
Jefferson, once stood the home of Selucious Garfielde, who was once a delegate to
Congress but was defeated by Judge O. B. McFadden. He was a famous orator of that early
day and campaigned up and down the Sound in Indian canoes, paddled by Indians. The
house is gone now, the Jewish Temple being on the spot. Garfielde was a charter member
of the Masonic Lodge. He married the widow Varner. Varner had a logging camp over on
Union which was afterwards taken over by Ike Ellis. There were two Garfielde boys:
Charles and Guy.
In that early day, the salt water extended to Union Street. Clem Johnston, said he
used to walk logs across Union to get to the camp buildings which were in the vicinity of
Plum and Pear streets. The logs were brought in from Chambers Lake on a tram road, the
cars being hauled by mules, then at the top of the hill the mules would be unhitched and
the cars would ramble clear to Union where the logs were dumped in the water. On Union
in this same vicinity, between Plum and Pear, across Union Street, was the old William
Sternberg house. He was a pioneer furrier who traded with the Indians in furs. His son,
William, had a cabinet shop there and also a big waterwheel in Moxlie Creek to use in
connection with his shop. These were landmarks in early days but are gone now. Clem
Johnston’s house was built in 1879, and it is still there.
At the end of Cherry Street and Eleventh Avenue stands the old Henry Dittman
house which he built in the early ’70s. He came here in 1873 from Chicago and before that
from Germany. He had learned the weaving trade in Germany, but in Chicago did
carpenter work. His widow lived long after him until she was 93 years ago and never spoke
a word of English. Amelia Dittman, daughter, taught in the schools

p100

for 46 years.
Next to the Dittman house was an orchard known as the Thos. Prather orchard. Dr.
F.A. Longaker bought the land from Mrs. J. D. Knox and moved about nine houses onto
the block off the Capitol grounds. One of these houses was the Thos. Mcleay house;
another was the John Percival house. Another was the Ace Rowe house, and many others;
also the Louise Ayer house.
On the southwest corner of Chestnut and Twelfth Street is the old square-roofed
house which was built by a John Slisby, a native of Maine who came to Olympia in 1878.
He was a pioneer grocer who had a grocery store in the old Episcopal Church which stood
where the Governor Hotel stands now. The classic yarn about this store is that Bob Lee,
son of the Presbyterian minister, on Hallowe’en tacked up the following sign on the church,
“My House was a House of Prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves”. Needless to say,
there was many a chuckle as the early passersby going to work saw the sign, but the irate
grocer tore it down when he arrived later.
In the jungle of fruit trees and other trees across Chestnut Street was the home of
James Swan, the original plattor of Swantown. The whole Eastside was his donation claim,
and could only be reached by crossing the body of water. He built a very large house,
although he was a bachelor. Some said the house was to be some kind of a home for men.
Whatever the idea was, it was never used for that purpose. The old house and the orchard
are still there at Eleventh and Chestnut. Swan originally lived over on the Eastside in the
vicinity of Second Street, about where the Pattison house was built. Pattison platted out an
addition over there.
One old landmark that was built in 1890 at the southeast corner of Thirteenth and
Cherry was the old Lincoln School. It was a very large brick structure that nearly fell down
on account of a severe storm while it was being built, so that in later years it had to be
propped up some. However, several generations of Olympia children attended school down
here, before it was torn down. The old steps at the corner of the block are plainly visible,
worn smooth by childish feet.
At the end of Fourteenth East are two houses worthy of mention. One is the old
Butler house or McBratney home. McBratneys had a livery stable. Mrs. Ben Turner and
her daughter, Mrs. Balch, lived there in their later years. Mrs. Balch died in the house. The
real Ben Turner house was in the block between 18th and 19th and Franklin and
Washington. He was a pioneer logger about whom many colorful takes are told.
At the end of East Fourteenth Street, on the south side of the street, on a high bank,
stands the old Whitney house. He logged with ox teams. Fred Reichel and his wife now
live in the old Whitney house. It is at the end of the trail as it were; in the late ’70s, this was
a logging road and logs were rolled over the hill to be taken to the Bay on Union Street.

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Old State Capitol Building after 1949 Earthquake – 4/13/14

SPI earthquake damage

On April 13, 1949 a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Puget Sound, the largest ever recorded. It caused extensive damage and destruction to downtown Olympia and to the State Capitol Campus buildings, as well as the entire Puget Sound region. The Old State Capitol Building (now Office of Superintendent of Instruction) is shown here undergoing repairs. General Subjects Photograph Collection, 1845-2005, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives,http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov. Link here to information about the Old State Capitol Building.

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Looking Back

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Flame Princesses

Photographic negative, of a group of three young women identified as the flame princesses,Olympia, WA, Thurston County, evidently a beauty contest associated with the Olympia Fire Department. They are posed outside of the Olympia Fire Department building (now, 2013, the Family Support Center) standing on a fire truck and wearing fire helmets; taken for Olympian (newspaper) May 4, 1960. Photograph ran in the Olympian on May 9, 1960, page 1. Identities of women are Mary Pat Brownell, Becky Cline, Ann Perrault, June Masser, Jenny Lee Michael, Beverly Ikerd, Linda Dobson. (Looking Back feature March 23, 2014) Washington State Historical Society catalogue C1986.43.60.5.4.3.1

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Olympia Historical Society Newsletter – Summer 2008

Click on link to view a PDF of this newsletter, originally issued in print. Scanned March 4, 2014

OHSnews004

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Olympia Historical Society Newsletter – Spring 2008

Click on link to view a PDF version of this newsletter, which was issued in print. Scanned March 4, 2014.

OHSnews003

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Olympia Historical Society Newsletter – Spring 2005

Click on link to view a PDF version of this letter, which was originally issued in print. Scanned March 4, 2014.

OHSnews002

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Olympia Historical Society Newsletter – Spring 2009

Click on link below to view a PDF of this newsletter, originally issued in print. Scanned March 4, 2014

OHSnews005

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Olympia Historical Society Newsletter – Winter 2004-2005

This is the inaugural issue of the OHS newsletter, which was issued in print form only; scanned March 4, 2014. Click on the link to view in PDF format.

OHSnews001

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Daniel and Ann Elizabeth White Bigelow Family

BigelowfamilyDaniel Richardson Bigelow was born in 1824 in New York State. In 1851, two years after reading law at Harvard, he crossed theOregon Trail. After a short stay in Portland he traveled to the pioneer settlement of Olympia in late 1851. He soon established a law practice, filed a 160 acre Donation Land Claim east of town, and threw himself into local politics.

Ann Elizabeth White was only 14 years old when her family came west from Wisconsin in 1851. They settled on Chambers Prairie southeast of Olympia and by 1853 Ann was employed as a school teacher in the Packwood home in the Nisqually Delta area near Olympia.

In 1854, Elizabeth and Daniel married and began married life in a two-room cabin he built on his land claim just east of downtown Olympia. Soon afterwards they built their neat two-story Carpenter Gothic home where they raised their eight children.

Daniel was among the first settlers to call for the separation of Washington from Oregon Territory. He served as a Councilman representing Thurston County in the Washington Territorial legislature from 1854-56 and as a Representative in 1871.  He also held a number of other public offices during his long career.

He and Elizabeth were devout Methodists and helped organize the Methodist Episcopal Church in Olympia. They were also active proponents of public education, rights for non whites,women’s suffrage and temperance.

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Tim Ransom

  • Vice President
  • Term 2012-2014

Tim Ransom has lived in Washington State since 1974 and in Olympia since 1993.  After receiving his doctorate in Psychology from the University of California, he has pursued a number of careers, including behavioral scientist, professional photographer, musician, owner/operator of an art gallery/custom framing shop, and environmental educator (for The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor and the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority/ Action Team).  In 2002 he retired from state employment to work on local history projects and is currently completing a book on the history of the Braget family and farm, located across the river from the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, in Pierce County.

Tim’s interest in local history was kindled by an opportunity to photograph elders in his community when living on Orcas Island in the 1970s and 80s.  He initiated the “Orcas Elders Project,” an oral history compilation that is still being added to today.  He served as president of the Orcas Historical Society/Museum for several years.

Tim conceived of the idea of writing about the Braget farm while working on water quality protection for the Nisqually Valley.  He has been working on the project for a decade, with the goal of using the story of the farm and family to illustrate the difficulties American society has faced in balancing its needs for public and private lands and in honoring those who have maintained our open spaces.  Tim’s research has taken him into the early histories of Thurston County and Olympia, and he is very pleased to be a part of the Olympia Historical Society.

Tim also serves as President of the Board of Panza, a local nonprofit that developed Quixote Village, a multiunit, permanent supportive housing project for the homeless that received nationwide media attention after opening late in 2013.

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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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219 Percival

Location: 219 Percival St NW

219 percival_1966 (1)219 Percival Street in 1966, photo from Thurston County Assessor, Washington State Archives219 Percival

219 Percival NW today (2010), photo by Deb Ross

The house at 219 North Percival on Olympia’s West Side was built in about 1897. It is another example of the tidy Victorian cottages built on lots developed by Sam Woodruff. It has not yet been  inventoried but appears to be in good condition, with original shingling intact.

For more information follow these links:

Washington State Historical Society enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1964.26.4.20.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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421 Quince

Location: 421 Quince Street SE

421 Quince old421 Quince, unknown date, photo from Thurston County Assessor, Washington State Archives421 Quince 2012

421 Quince in 2010, photo by Deborah Ross

This modest home is included here for its early date, 1880, and its original elaborate shingling. It has not been inventoried by the City; however, it was included in historian Adah Dye’s collection of photographs of early Olympia homes. Tragically, the house burned in September 2011 and the shingling was destroyed.

For more information follow these links:

Washington State Historical Society enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1964.26.4.14.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7th Avenue tunnel

Location: Under 7th Avenue between Adams and Columbia
Transportation

subway construction7th Avenue Tunnel 1913, photo courtesy of Washington State Historical Society7th ave tunnel7th Avenue Tunnel today (2012), Photo by Matthew Kennelly

In early days of the Northern Pacific railroad, Olympia was ignominiously bypassed, and had to build its own narrow gauge to hook up with the NP in Tenino, 15 miles away. Once Washington gained statehood and Olympia became its permanent capital, several railroads vied for the opportunity to serve our city. However, all were contingent on concessions and funds. Olympia raised $50,000 for construction of the line to downtown, but insisted that the tracks not run on surface roads through downtown, particularly along 7th Avenue which was lined with homes of wealthy citizens.

The 7th Avenue tunnel (also known as the Subway) was opened in 1891, the year that the Northern Pacific first brought service into downtown. The depot was built on new fill at its current location on Columbia Street, just past the western end of the tunnel. At first the “lid” of the tunnel was made of wood, and considered an informal extension of Sylvester Park, which ran along its northern edge.

Improvements were made in 1913, when the tunnel was lined in concrete. Railroad historian James Hannum speculates that the set of tracks at the left of the photograph, taken during the construction phase, may have been for a tram to bring materials to a higher level.

The tracks are still used for freight traffic, having been acquired by the Burlington Northern in the 1960s. A homeless man was hit by a train in 2010 and lost his arm.

More information:

Washington State Historical Society photo (above) enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1984.3.1 , C1984.3.2

Olympia inventory (note that this inventory report states the tunnel was built in 1913 or 1914, relying on information from the Burlingon Northern; however,  Sanborn maps, photographs and other DAHP sources indicate that the tunnel was built in 1891 and improved in 1913)

Thurston County Historical Journal, December 2020

Thanks to James Hannum for information and interpretation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Acme Fuel Company

Location: 416 State Ave NE
Transportation

acmefuel_1964Acme Fuel Co building, 1964, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives
acme fuelAcme Fuel Co building today (2015), photo by Deb Ross

The Acme Fuel Company was founded in 1925 by the Springer Mill Company as a way to sell off their waste wood products to homes for heating needs. They soon began selling coal and heating oil as those energy sources became more common. The art moderne style building currently housing the business was erected in 1940. The business has been owned by the Allen family since the early 1940s, and a third generation of Allens are now running the company, which continues to deliver fuel for homes and businesses in the area.

Links:

Olympia inventory

Looking Back article, July 13, 2014 (fuel truck at Legislative Building)

Thurstontalk.com article, accessed May 29, 2015

 

 

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Adams, John and Elise House

Location: 135 Cushing St NW
Local register; Diversity: Scandinavians

Adams House _1939Adams House 1939, image from Thurston County Assessor files, Washington State ArchivesAdams House

Adams House today (2010), photo by Deb Ross

The house at 135 Cushing Street NW was built around 1900, or a little earlier, and was owned by John and Elise Adams beginning in about 1902. John was a Finnish immigrant who, like many other Scandinavians in Olympia, worked at the cooperative Olympia Veneer Company. He was also active in the Swedish church, now Gloria Dei. In 1939 or 1940, when historian Adah Dye took photographs of structures over 50 years old, she called it the Mower House, perhaps a misspelling of one of the early owners, the Marry family. This home is another example of a simple pioneer style Westside home in an area originally platted by developer Samuel Woodruff.  It was added to the local register in 2013.

For more information follow these links:

Washington State Historical Society (enter the following catalog number in Collections Search box): C1964.26.4.3.7

Olympia Heritage inventory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adams/Martin House

Location: 1639 Bigelow Ave NE
Local register

adamsmartin_1939Adams/Martin House, 1939, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives
Adams-Martin HouseAdams/Martin House today (2013), photo by Marisa Merkel

The Adams/Martin House is an attractive small bungalow in the Bigelow Highlands neighborhood. It was built in 1927 by J.B. and Ella Prilman Adams. Adams was listed as a carpenter and may have built the house himself. It has fine, well-preserved Craftsman style features. The Bigelow Highlands neighborhood is known for having a number of homes that were built for workers in the mills and other industry on the waterfront (see Rebecca Christie’s book, Workingman’s Hill). The home is on the local register.

Olympia Inventory report

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Agnew Duplex

Location: 1023 Olympia Ave NE
Local register; Olympia Avenue Historical District

agnew1938Agnew Duplex, 1938, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgnew Duplex today (2014), photo by Deb Ross

The Agnew Duplex was built in 1926 for Elsie and Clifford Agnew. The Agnews owned the City Dye Works and Star Laundry (it’s possible the woman pictured in the link at the Star Laundry page is Elsie). Duplexes were unusual at the time, and the Agnews apparently lived on one side and rented out the other side to millworkers and others. It is notable that the very large tree that is in the front yard in 2014 did not exist in the 1939 photo at above left. The well-maintained home is on the local register, as well as located in the Olympia Avenue Historic District.

Links:

Olympia inventory

For more information on the Agnew family, see the Residents section of this website

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Air show site/Swantown Marina

Location: 650 Marine Dr NE
Transportation

wiseman landingFred Wiseman’s plane landing, May 18, 1911, courtesy of Washington State Historical SocietySwantown Marina

Swantown Marina today (2013), Port of Olympia photo

The Carlyon Fill project in 1910-1911 added 29 blocks to the central peninsula of Olympia, eliminating the Swantown Slough that had divided much of east Olympia from downtown, and adding most of what we now know as the port area. Just after the fill was completed, in 1911, aviator Fred Wiseman piloted his tiny aircraft, billed as the “fastest machine in the world,” to make several landings in the newly filled area. Wiseman went so far as to bring a film cameraman aboard, and the resulting footage was shown in local movie theaters. The little airplane is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, as it was the first airplane to carry mail.

The area where Wiseman landed is now the Swantown Marina, echoing the transportation theme inaugurated by Wiseman’s historic first landing in Olympia.

Thanks to Emmett O’Connell for unearthing the Wiseman story and the location of “Olympia’s first airport.”

Additional resources:

Historylink article

Youtube video on early years of Port of Olympia

Washington State Historical Society,

enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1943.2x.30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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