Location: 315 4th Ave W
Little Hollywood, 1950, after its partial demolition, Olympia Fire Department Collection, Digital Archives
|Heritage Fountain now (2010), photo from City of Olympia|
Before the construction of Capitol Lake in 1951, the wide Deschutes Estuary extended to the north, up to the Fourth Avenue bridge. Float houses were built on the town side of this body of water and housed small businesses as well as residents. By the Depression in the 1930s, this area had developed into a full-scale community, later dubbed Little Hollywood, which housed the less acceptable elements of Olympia society, including immigrants, prostitutes, and alcoholics; as well as continuing to be the location for small-scale commercial concerns and a thriving community of about 100 structures. At this point, the city fathers determined to rid themselves of these undesirable elements and, over a space of two years, torched all of the shanties. (Note the photograph at above left, taken in 1950, shows the Legislative Building dome still under repair following the 1949 earthquake.) In 1951 the process was completed with the completion of the Fifth Avenue Dam and creation of additional land between Fourth and Fifth Avenues adjacent to the bridges. This area is now partly occupied by the Heritage Fountain.
Across from Little Hollywood, on the water side, was an armory, one of three armory locations over the years (see Armory and Farquhar Store). Adjacent to Little Hollywood, running up to and along the Fourth Avenue Bridge, was a series of commercial buildings. The Blake and Riggs Farmer’s Barn was one of these buildings, documented in the 1914 series of photographs taken by photographer Robert Esterly and also linked below.
For more information follow these links:
Washington State Historical Society (enter catalog number in Collections Search box): 2010.149.13.1 (Blake and Riggs barn)
Photo of floathouses as viewed from west side, from Moody Collection
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross