Location: 701 Franklin St SE
Religious institutions; Wohleb; Local register

firstchristian1897First Christian around 1897, from Lawson, 100 Years of Christian Witness. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst Christian Church today (2014), photo by Deb Ross

The Disciples of Christ (also known as Christian) denomination arrived in Thurston County in the very earliest years of American settlement, when the Longmire family founded a small church in Yelm. Another Christian church was established in Olympia but failed to thrive. Several decades later, the current congregation, First Christian, was founded about 1890. Following the common practice, it met in several public buildings, including the Washington School and Columbia Hall.  This congregation met with immediate success, purchased land at the corner of Adams and Union, and built a church structure there. In 1895, in another instance of “musical pews,” that building was moved to the location of the current church, at Seventh and Franklin, where it is pictured at above left. (For more on the musical pews phenomenon in Olympia, see the Gloria Dei listing)

The current structure at this location was built in 1928. Architect Joseph Wohleb demonstrated his virtuosity and range by adopting a Gothic style, with its characteristic buttresses and arched windows. The longer one-story extension to the south was added in the 1960s. The church is on the local register.

Additional resources:

Olympia Heritage inventory

Sapp, Olympia 100 Years ago

Pioneer History Churches of Christ in Thurston County

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

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross