Location: 110 N Capitol Way
Local Register, Downtown National Historical District, Wohleb; Diversity: Native Americans, Gay and Lesbian History
|Chambers Block around 1891, Drawing by Edward Lange from Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue 1891, Washington State Library||Chambers 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 not added until around 1985.
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:
Olympia Downtown Historic District
Washington State Historical Society Photos enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1996.6.9 (earthquake damage); C19220.127.116.11.5; 2010.149.37.2 (around 1914); C2017.0.33
Moody collection, showing intersection with Chambers Block, taken after earthquake before second story bays restored.
Olympia Gay and Lesbian History Tour
Chambers family, see Residents section of this website
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross