Location: 909 Capitol Way SE
Transportation; mid-Century modern
|Golden Gavel Motel, 1960s, Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation||Golden Gavel Motel building today (2014), Photo by Deb Ross|
The Golden Gavel Motel building was constructed in 1958. At the time, Capitol Way was still part of the main west coast highway, US Route 99. Motels, hotels, restaurants, and other automotive businesses lined the street, which was often congested. In just a couple of years, however, the construction of Interstate 5 would divert most through traffic away from downtown Olympia.
The building is a classic 1950s-era motor hotel design, the only one remaining near downtown. The design was by the Dawley Brothers, who were responsible for many of the early and mid-century commercial buildings downtown, as well as some residential construction including the L.E. Dawley House and Hart-Dawley House. The Dawley firm was unusual in having in-house architects. The building is very similar to the Dawley Building at Union and Capitol. It is included in the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s “Nifty from the Last 50” project. Its vertical sign is original, though the name of the business has changed. The building next door, the Weidner Auto Court, is about 30 years older, and the two buildings might be considered to bookend the Pacific Coast Highway/U.S. 99 era in downtown Olympia.
WSHS, building under construction ca. 1958, not scanned, C19126.96.36.1999