Location: 503 Puget St NE
Women’s History, Popular Culture

henderson house_1950Henderson House, 1950, photo from Thurston County Assessor, State Archives Henderson House

Henderson House now (2010), photo by Deborah Ross


This house, known locally as the Harriet Henderson House, was built in about 1889, and was the residence of Florence Humphrey and her widowed mother. Miss Humphrey operated a boarding house here and also called herself a “nurse” in at least one directory. Her half-sister, Harriet Humphrey Henderson, is reported to have lived here for a time (hence the name Henderson House); however, contemporary directories show her living on Plum Street (East Bay Drive), just below the Henderson House, at least until after her sister’s death in the 1920s. Her son Edwin Henderson is reported to have sold many of the house’s furnishings.

Mrs. Henderson (who married and divorced teacher John Leland Henderson and then an evangelical pastor, Mr. Noble), was a founder of the Assembly of God Pentecostal church down the street at Puget and Bigelow. She was rumored to take in infants of prostitutes from the Red Light District north of State Avenue, and place them on the doorstep of wealthy citizens. Rebecca Christie’s book Workingman’s Hill devotes a chapter to Mrs. Henderson.

This house is one of the so-called Black Houses owned and rented by a local dentist, the subject of several local legends. 

For more information follow these links:

Olympia Heritage inventory

Washington  State Historical  Society photographs (enter the following catalog number in the Collections Search box):C1964. (unscanned photo circa 1937)

Olympia Women’s History Walking Tour (Assembly of God, information on Harriet Humphrey Henderson)

Video about Bigelow Highlands and legend of Harriet Henderson, available on Youtube

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross