Location: Northwest corner Adams and 5th
First Methodist, around 1903, First United Methodist Church of Olympia
Former site of First Methodist today (2013), photo by Deb Ross
Another example of a “paved Paradise” in downtown Olympia. The congregation of the First Methodist Episcopal church outgrew its first building just north of here in the early 1890s and began planning a new, larger building. An early conceptual design sketched in the Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue of 1891 must have failed, for a more modest building, though still much larger than the original, was erected here in 1901. When the congregation again outgrew this building, they raised it and built a basement underground, which was subject to flooding due to its proximity to the Swantown Slough and the many artesian wells in the area.
While the congregation was mulling over further expansion plans, the 1949 earthquake hit, causing severe structural damage, and the building was condemned. The congregation met for a time in a theatre, and then moved to its current location at Legion Way and Boundary. This building was still in existence into the 1950s, for Olympian photographs show the Pet Parade processing past it, with its elevated porch serving as a viewing stand. The location is currently a parking lot, the natural fate of many purpose-built ecclesiastical buildings, as narrated in the page for Gloria Dei, which stood across Fifth Avenue from this church.
Thanks to First Methodist Church for information and use of photograph.
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross