Evergreen Plaza/Unitarian Church site

Location: 711 Capitol Way S
mid-Century modern; Religious institutions; Transportation

Unitarian Church, detail from 1879 Bird’s Eye view, linked below (marked #7)
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Evergreen Plaza today (2014), photo by Deb Ross

With the establishment of the Town Square (Sylvester Park) by Edmund Sylvester, the social and religious center of town moved towards the streets adjacent to the square. The Unitarian Church was kitty-corner to the square along Main Street (Capitol Way), next door to the home of Thomas I. McKenny, a Civil War general who later became Indian agent for Washington Territory (see also McKenny Block and Margaret McKenny House). At the time, this part of Main Street ran along a rising bluff adjacent to the Deschutes Estuary, so that the back of the church and house were on the water.

As Main Street became more solidly commercial, the Unitarians built a new structure on Franklin Street in 1891. Then, with the establishment of Capitol Way as part of Pacific Highway 1, the major north-south thoroughfare in the Pacific Northwest, this site, like many others along the route, was associated with the transportation industry, serving as  the location of an automobile dealership. In 1972, that building gave way to the construction of the current building, a 12 story commercial complex designed by notable Seattle architect Chester Lindsay. The building was part of a movement in the 1970s to add more commercial space downtown.

Links:

Olympia Heritage Inventory (Evergreen Plaza building)

1879 Bird’s Eye View, showing Unitarian Church site (number 7)

Sapp, Olympia 100 Years ago

For more information on Thomas I. McKenny and his family, see the Residents section of this website.

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