Location: 405 4th Ave E
Popular culture

barnes homeGeorge Barnes residence, courtesy of Washington State Historical Society Artesian Commons

Artesian well (2012), photo by Deb Ross

George Barnes was one of the first merchants to arrive in Olympia, coming here with his wife and brother-in-law, John Miller Murphy (see also the Barnes Bank building, the oldest brick building in downtown Olympia). He built this Gothic style home on Fourth Avenue, near downtown, but in an area that at the time was the home to other early residents. The home was still standing till the mid-20th century, when it was photographed in decay by historian Adah Dye.

No doubt part of the attraction of this site for the Barnes family was the presence of good water. The artesian well at this site is now a city park (as of 2019 closed indefinitely), a popular gathering spot and source of fine drinking water for Olympia’s residents, as well as a site for public art. The well is one of several that grace downtown Olympia and have served as public sources of water from pre-European settlement days. Public artesian sites in downtown Olympia over the years have included the Chambers Block, Talcott’s building, and the Spar.

Additional resources:

Washington State Historical Society photographs, enter the following catalog number in collection search box: C1948.18.1 (above photo); C1964. (Adah Dye photo, not scanned); C2015.0.120

City of Olympia site, Artesian Commons

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

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross