Cowling Building

Location: 117 Washington St NE
Downtown National Historic District; popular culture

cowling 1964Cowling Building, 1964, Thurston County Assessor, Washington State Archives
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cowling Building today (2014), photo by Deb Ross

This utilitarian building was erected in 1926 and, until the mid-60s was operated as a hotel on the second floor and a tavern or restaurant on the ground level. It originally was an addition to the Cowling Hotel which stood at the corner of State and Washington. The hotel is rumored to have been operated as a brothel at one time. Its appearance has also been enhanced by the restoration of Art Moderne features that harmonize with the adjacent Rockway-Leland Building.

In recent years the building has contributed to popular culture and art. In the mid-90s, the upstairs was an alternative music venue known as Arrowspace. The band The White Stripes played in addition to many other legendary bands. It was also home to the group that originated “Ladyfest” a music festival.

The original mural in the alley was a dedication to a popular local musician who died 
in the mid nineties. The more recent trompe l’oeil mural was created by Yelizaveta Bakhtin
an Evergreen Student from Russia and Lawrence Genette also a TESC student
at the time.

 

The building is in Olympia’s Downtown National Historic District, where it is listed as Historic Contributing.

Thank you to owner Tom Anderson for information about the history of the building.

Links:

Olympia Downtown National Historic District

Olympia Heritage inventory

Link to image of beer token for Roy’s Place, which was at this location (accessed March 19, 2014)

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