Location: 1923 Division St NW
|Huesing House, 1936, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives|
Huesing House today (2014), photo by Deb Ross
In 1892 Samuel Woodruff, member of an early Thurston County family, came up with an innovative sales idea. Woodruff had already platted the Woodruff subdivision just north of Division Street on the Westside, had built the Woodruff Block downtown, and had platted and was developing the city of Gate, Washington. For his new venture, he purchased almost 200 acres of property from the pioneer Konrad Schneider family, whose holdings extended from Budd Inlet nearly all the way to Summit Lake west of Eld Inlet. The acreage was purchased at $100 an acre and Schneider held a mortgage that specified that as each acre-sized lot was sold, it would be released from the mortgage. Woodruff then platted the subdivision and marketed it with innovative terms: first, each acre-sized lot would allow for working class families to have a small orchard, which would be planted by Woodruff as part of the deal. With that size lot they would also be able to keep a cow and plant a garden. Finally, the lots would be sold on the installment plan so that families could afford them.
A great deal of publicity accompanied the release of the lots for sale. Artist Edward Lange was commissioned to create a huge painting of Orchard Park; newspapers announced the new plat, and advertisements were put in the paper warning purchasers to come early on opening day to secure the best lots. The lots were marketed at $400, a 400% markup from the price Woodruff was paying the Schneider family.
Unfortunately for Woodruff, the 1893 Depression intervened, and only a few lots were sold. Schneider foreclosed on the unsold lots and while Woodruff fought the foreclosure, he ultimately lost and the property reverted to the Schneiders, who took over the marketing and sale of the remaining lots. Remnants of the orchards planted either by the Schneiders or Woodruff remain in the yards of the Orchard Park plat homes.
The house at 1923 Division was part of the Orchard Park plat, built in about 1922, several years after the Schneiders reacquired the property. Huesing was a bricklayer and stonemason, which accounts for the house’s brick construction, relatively rare in Olympia. Originally, as can be seen in the above left photograph from 1936, there was a garage entrance at a lower level. The entryway and arched windows are decorated with sandstone trim. The house is on the local register.
Sources for the history of the Orchard Park plat are from court and land records.