Dairy Queen building/site of Washington Equal Suffrage Association

Location: 1050 Capitol Way S
Wohleb; mid-Century modern; Transportation; Women’s history

dairy queen_1965Dairy Queen building 1965, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADairy Queen Building today (2013), photo by Deb Ross

It is difficult to imagine Capitol Way and Fourth Avenue more congested than they are today, but such was the case after 1926, when these city streets were designated part of US Route 99, the main north-south thoroughfare in the Western United States before the construction of Interstate 5. While this designation created transportation nightmares for cities, it also fostered the establishment and growth of commercial and industrial businesses that catered to a population on the move.

The Dairy Queen building at the corner of Capitol and Union was designed by preeminent architect Joseph Wohleb for owner Dean Mohler in 1949. Dairy Queen, the inventor of soft serve ice cream, also pioneered the franchise  model of business ownership and the fast food industry. The business here served both passers-through and local residents until well into the 1990s, when it was extensively remodeled into a business office. (For other businesses that capitalized on Route 99 in downtown Olympia, see the Interactive Map and search by “transportation” theme.)

This site was also the location of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association in 1909. From here members lobbied for female suffrage, including the production of the Washington Women’s Cookbook, which was widely distributed, including at the Alaska-Pacific-Yukon Exposition. The cookbook’s title page bore the inscription:

Give us the vote and we will cook
The better for a wide outlook. 

Women’s suffrage in Washington State passed on a referendum in 1910.

City of Olympia, mid-Century modern context statement, page 16

History Link article, Washington Equal Suffrage Association

City of Olympia Women’s History Walking Tour

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