Bettman Block

Location: 312-324 Fourth Ave. SE
Diversity: Jewish heritage

bettman blockThe Bettman Block around 1891
photograph courtesy of Washington State Historical Society
bettman block nowBettman Block today (2012)Photograph courtesy of Deb Ross 

The Bettman Family was a dynasty of merchants beginning with the early days of Olympia. Louis Bettman had a men’s store on Main Street (now Capitol Way), first located north of State Avenue and later between Fourth and Fifth, and was involved in other commercial ventures in town, as were his children. The Bettman Block, built in 1891, and located at the northwest corner of Adams and Fourth Avenue, was near the center of town, and was built on the site of the Bettmans’ first home. It was the home of the Willard Hotel, Van Arsdale Hardware store, the Van Eaton grocery store, the Capital City Meat Market, and other businesses over the years. The Legislature regularly rented several rooms to conduct business in during Legislative Session, and the hotel was conveniently located near the Old State Capitol Building. The 1949 earthquake so badly damaged the building that it had to be partially demolished and its current configuration bears little resemblance to the original building.

For more information about and historical photographs of the building and the Bettman family, follow these links:

Washington State Historical Society: enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1943.11.30 (Bettman home around 1874, first on left) C1980.22.10, C1981.30x.7 (post earthquake damage), 2010.149.25.1 (Van Arsdale Hardware Store in about 1914), C1964. (building in late 1930s); 1981.94.488 (view of 4th Avenue looking west, Bettman building first building on right); Van Eaton grocer in 1914 (Esterly photograph) 2010.149.19.2; Capital City Market in 1914,  2010.149.31.1; Edward Lange drawing of the interior of the Capital City market is at Selected Transcriptions from Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue of 1891 under listing for C.M. Moore

For photograph of the Bettman family, link to our Residents page 

Other sites relating to this family include the Bettman-Oppenheimer house, and the Bettman store’s first and second sites.

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross



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