Location: 621 Capitol Way S
mid-Century modern, Religious institutions
Governor House, about 1890
Governor Hotel today – Pride Weekend (2012), Photo by Deborah Ross
As the capital of Washington State, accommodations have played an important role in the life of Olympia. The photographic record shows the gradual growth and transformation of this downtown hotel, across from Sylvester Park. In 1890 the hotel (variously called the Governor House and the Mitchell Hotel) was a three story structure with columned entryway (see above left). It was developed by William H. Mitchell, a pioneer businessman. Some time before 1908, the hotel was expanded to the south. In 1928, a larger, seven-story brick structure was built at the location. This building was damaged during the 1949 earthquake but still in existence in 1960. The hotel featured a spa (called sanatarium baths), dining room, and gift shop. The gift shop was operated by Tate Henry Rogers, member of the Henry family of early settlers to Olympia (see links below for sanatarium, dining room, and gift shop images)
The current structure, built in 1971 for the Ramada Inn franchise, was designed by Camp, Dresser, McKee, following the “form follows function” philosophy.
This location was also the site of the first St. John’s Episcopal Church building, until 1891, when it moved to its location on 9th and Washington. The site was then sold to John A. Silsby (see Silsby House), who had a grocery store at the corner for many years. He unsuccessfully sued the Northern Pacific Railroad for disruption association with the construction and operation of the 7th Avenue tunnel, which went by his store (and still goes by the hotel).
Digital Archives photo above, photo from around 1945, photo from around 1960
Washington State Historical Society photographs (bold face indicates that a scanned image is available), enter the following catalog numbers in the Collection Search box: C1981.30x.8, 1998.81.1 (earthquake damage); 2014.130.1.10; C2017.0.56.21 (Sanatarium Baths in the Mitchell Hotel)
Bird’s Eye View of Olympia, 1879 (Episcopal church item 9 on map)
Miscellaneous Images collection, three images of Governor Hotel
Looking Back post with photograph of dining room
Tate Henry Rogers gift shop, from Moody Collection
For more information on William H. Mitchel, John Silsby, and Tate Henry Rogers, see the Who are We? section of this website.
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross