Location: 208 West Bay Dr NW
Iverson House at far right, 1903, detail from Edward Lange drawing, Olympia, the Capital on Puget Sound, Washington, Library of Congress collection
Iverson House today (2014), photo by Deb Ross
The Iverson House offers a striking example of the importance of both water and rail transportation before the advent of the automobile age. The house’s construction was begun by Frederick R. Brown in about 1900. Brown was an early settler who rose to become president of the Olympia & Tenino Railroad, which first brought rail service to Olympia. He was also extensively involved in the timber business throughout Puget Sound. Brown built this home immediately to the west of the railroad’s depot in West Olympia, near the Fourth Avenue Bridge.
The small detail at above left, from Edward Lange’s large promotional print from 1903, Olympia, the Capital on Puget Sound, Washington shows the home, identifiable by its circular tower, at grade with West Bay Drive as it existed then (the home is currently well below grade). The depot is at the left of the image, with railroad tracks running along pilings in back of Brown’s house. The Fourth Avenue Bridge, with its drawbridge, can also be seen behind the house.
Although the home was and is accessed via West Bay Drive, most of its decorative features, including a distinctive oval window with stained glass borders, a large porch with turned posts and balustrade, and a turret, are on the east side of the house, facing Budd Inlet. Brown would have had a satisfying view of his railroad — and Olympia and Mount Rainier beyond it — from the large east-facing window. Likewise, Olympia citizens, as well as visitors traveling by water or rail, had an impressive view of the home.
The home was later lived by the Iverson family, who occupied it until 1970. Oliver Iverson was a Norwegian immigrant who worked for the United States Survey and was known as a local historian. When Iverson died in 1940, he was one of the last two surviving veterans of the Civil War in Thurston County. Today, the building is home to a social service agency.
Link to Library of Congress image from which above detail was taken.
For more on Frederick R Brown, see the Residents section of this website.
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross