Location: 201 8th Ave SE
Religious institutions; Diversity: Jewish heritage

Christian Science church, 1961, courtesy Washington State Historical Society OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATemple Beth Hatfiloh (Christian Science building) today (2014), photo by Deb Ross

A group of Christian Science students began to meet in Olympia early in the 20th century. According to historian Bernice Sapp, they met in the Sparks home on Adams Street between Ninth and Tenth for a time; the inventory report also notes the Olympia Hotel as a temporary meeting place. In 1917, the group  was recognized as a branch of the Mother Church, and bought the Gustav Rosenthal home that was on this site. Rosenthal was an early merchant and oysterman. See McKenny Block, Turner Block, and Star Laundry Building for other sites associated with Mr. Rosenthal.

The congregation began by remodeling the Rosenthal home into a church, Sunday school, and reading room. Then, the current imposing Greek Revival Building was erected between 1925 and 1947 by the First Church of Christ Science. It served as the home of that congregation until 2004. Then, as another round-and-round-we-go example of “musical pews” in Olympia, it was sold to Temple Beth Hatfiloh, which moved here from its former location on Adams Street, a stone’s throw from the Christian Science congregation’s first meeting place, and perhaps an even more fitting new site, given Gustav Rosenthal’s Jewish heritage. (For more background on the “musical pews” phenomenon, see the listing for the nearby Gloria Dei congregation). The Christian Science congregation is now located on Evergreen Park Drive in West Olympia.

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

Additional resources:

Olympia Heritage inventory

Washington State Historical Society photograph from 1961, enter the following catalog number in Collections Search box: C1986.

Sapp, Olympia 100 Years ago

Article: Temple Beth-Hatfiloh is 75!

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross