Location: 405 Water St SW
Transportation; Diversity: Vietnamese heritage; mid-Century modern

pearl cityPearl City Cleaning and Dye Works around 1914, Robert Esterly photograph courtesy of Washington State Historical Society Boat and Motor Mart (Little Danang) building

Boat and Motor Mart building in 2012, photo by Deb Ross


Water Street, at the western edge of downtown Olympia, was created in the late 19th century, partly to accommodate the arrival of the Great Northern Railroad to this area. It quickly became a hub for industries connected with transportation – by boat, train, and road – as well as transient and immigrant populations. The corner of Fourth Avenue and the new Water Street, which had originally been part of the long Fourth Avenue Bridge, was between Little Hollywood to the south, and Chinatown to the west and north. The Pearl City laundry pictured above seems to have been a rare example of a Euro-American-owned laundry in this part of town, as laundries were almost exclusively owned by Chinese. Behind this building we can also see an oyster packing plant, another of the important industries in this area.

With the increased importance of automobile traffic, and the establishment of Fourth Avenue as part of Route 101, the main east-west highway along the coast, transportation industries took even greater prominence. The building most recently at this location was built in 1956 and, like its predecessor, took advantage of its strategic location to operate a boat and automobile dealership here. Over the years it housed an insurance agency and a Vietnamese restaurant. The building was included in the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation inventories for its mid-Century and transportation-related significance. However, it was demolished in 2015.

Additional resources:

Washington State Historical Society photographs, enter the following catalog number in collection search box 2010.149.10.1

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross