Location: 909 Capitol Way SE
Transportation; mid-Century modern

Olympia_Golden_Gavel_1960Golden Gavel Motel, 1960s, Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGolden 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.

More information:

Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation inventory 

Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation mid-Century Walking Tour

Washington State Historical Society, building under construction ca. 1958, not scanned, enter the following catalog number in Collections Search page C1986.43.0.569

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross