Cunningham’s Building/Site of First Methodist-4th Avenue

Location: 325 4th Ave E
Local register, Religious Institutions

cunninghamScott’s Grocery (Cunningham’s Building), 1914, photo by Robert Esterly, courtesy of Washington State Historical SocietyCunningham Building

Cunningham’s building today (2012), photo by Deb Ross

The building currently known as the Cunningham’s Building was erected in 1896 and is the oldest surviving “pioneer-style” commercial building in downtown Olympia. Old photographs of Olympia show many such wooden buildings with false fronts lining the central thoroughfares of Fourth and Fifth Avenues and Main Street (Capitol Way) (see, for example, Olympia Lumber and Mercantile site). This and the adjacent building on Adams Street are among the few remaining. In 1914 when the photograph at above left was taken by Robert Esterly as part of his series celebrating local businesses and their owners, the first floor was a grocery store, and the Commercial Hotel at the second floor. This was still the case when local historian Adah Dye took a photograph of the same building in the 1940s (link to description below). At some point, the Cunningham family bought the building, and it was operated as a furniture store until at least the mid-1980s (see also Cunningham House, home of Cunningham family). The building has recently been beautifully restored and is on the local register.

This was also the site of the first purpose-built First Methodist Church. A well-known story has it that newly arrived pastor John DeVore made an arrangement with Clanrick Crosby that he could have all the lumber that he could haul in one day. He carried out 30,000 feet of lumber, enough to build the church. The link to First Methodist below is a photograph of that original church. It is also marked as number 13 on the Bird’s Eye View map linked below.

Additional resources:

Olympia Heritage inventory

Washington State Historical Society photographs enter the following catalog number in Collections Search box:, 2010.149.24.1 ; C1964.26.4.12.1 (Cunningham Building); 2010.0.171 (First Methodist); C2013.18.89

Bird’s Eye View of Olympia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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