Location: 107 7th Ave SE
Transportation; Diversity: Jewish heritage; National Downtown Historic District

parade with harris houseParade for dead Spanish-American war soldiers, 1900, with Harris house in background, photo courtesy of Washington State Historical Society Greyhound Station

Greyhound station today (2013), photo by Deb Ross

The Isaac Harris house was built in 1880 at an important location on the corner of Main Street (Capitol Way) and Sylvester Park. It was one among several large homes and mansions built along the Main Street corridor south of the park. (The park and the Old State Capitol Building can be seen in the background of the photograph at above left.)  Isaac Harris was one of the most important merchants in Olympia, arriving here in 1870. His sons Mitchel and Gus carried on the business and built the Harris Dry Goods store a block and a half away. In addition to this mercantile business, they were investors in many important commercial ventures, as well as being prominent members of the Jewish community. Mitchel Harris was a three-time mayor of Olympia.

According to historian Bernice Sapp, the Harris House was moved to a location at 7th Avenue and Adams Street, possibly the hip-roofed apartment building currently (2014) at that location.

In about 1937, the North Coast Lines built the art moderne building that stands at this location. North Coast was one of the many subsidiaries of Puget Sound Power and Light, begun in 1922 to provide electrically-powered transportation up and down the coast, but soon branching out into motorized transportation. With the completion of Highway 99, which ran down Capitol Way and turned onto Fourth Avenue, this corner was a key surface transportation hub for the city and its surrounding areas. It is also the former home of Greyhound Bus Lines ,  now vacant, and has retained most of its original art moderne features. In the 2000s, the Art Deco Society of Olympia, in collaboration with the Olympia Downtown Association, acquired funds to repaint the building, along with its iconic motto: “See America By Bus the Modern Travel Way.” However, the building is currently in decline. It is in the National  Downtown Historic District but not individually registered.

Additional resources:

Olympia Heritage inventory

National Downtown Historic District

Washington State Historical Society (images in bold are scanned), enter the following catalog numbers in the Collection Search box: 2012.0.345; C1947.7.5; C1945.141.2

Sapp, Olympia 100 Years Ago

For more information on the Harris family, see the Residents section of this website

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross