Chambers Block/Town well site

Location: 110 N Capitol Way
Local Register, Downtown National Historical  District, Wohleb; Diversity: Native Americans, Gay and Lesbian History

chambers block thenChambers Block around 1891, Drawing by Edward Lange from Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue 1891, Washington  State Library chambers blockChambers Block today (2012), Photo courtesy of Deb Ross

The Chambers Block was and still is one of the most important downtown structures, built in 1887 by Mayor A.H. Chambers, a member of the pioneer Chambers family (see Andsworth Chambers House). As evident in the lefthand image, it originally had elaborate projecting bays and a parapet. Joseph Wohleb was responsible for a remodel that added several of the features characteristics of Wohleb buildings. The building was badly damaged in the 1949 earthquake. The original bays were removed, and new bays added several years later.

According to historians Bernice Sapp and George Blankenship, this was the location of the original town well, used by Native Americans before European arrival, and by Native Americans and Europeans alike thereafter.

Beginning in 1978, this was the home of The Book Store, focusing on women, women’s issues, and lesbian literature.

For further information and links, see the following:

Digital Archives photograph

Olympia Heritage inventory

Olympia Downtown Historic District

Olympia Downtown Walking Tour

Washington State Historical Society Photos enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1996.6.9 (earthquake damage); C1964.; 2010.149.37.2 (around 1914); C2017.0.33

Private postcard collection

Olympia Gay and Lesbian History Tour

Chambers family, see Residents section of this website

Sapp, Olympia 100 Years ago




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