Location: 327 Sherman NW

MClelland_1939McClelland House, 1939, photo from Thurston County Assessor, State Archives McClelland House

McClelland House now (2010), photo by Deborah Ross


This attractive, unassuming Pioneer-style home is one of many in West Olympia built as part of the development of this part of town to serve middle class families. The land was acquired by Sam Woodruff and divided into building lots, with enough land to accommodate a small garden and a cow, which every family of the day owned. In 1893, J.R. Chaplin, a Congregational minister, had the idea of building a university in the wilderness above Butler’s Cove, and traveled to the midwest to attract settlers to this community. Several arrived here in 1894, and Chaplin arranged with Woodruff to secure what was planned as temporary home places for them in this neighborhood, possibly including this house. Chaplin also leased the Olympia Collegiate Institute building as temporary quarters for his “People’s University.” See also Chaplin House

In 1902 Benjamin McClelland was living here, listed as a teacher at the People’s University; but by 1909 he was teaching at the high school, as People’s University never realized its dream of locating at Butler’s Cove, and lasted only a few years.

Although assessor’s information shows this building as having been built in 1904, it is likely older: historian Adah Dye recorded this home as being over 50 years old in about 1949, and the McClelland family was living here in 1902.

Olympia Heritage inventory

Washington  State Historical  Society photographs (enter the following catalog number in Collections Search box):C1964. (unscanned photo circa 1949)

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross