Location: 101 Capitol Way N
Local Register, State Register, National Register, National Historic District, Diversity: Jewish heritage
|The Toklas and Kaufman building (now Mottman Building) around 1891
charcoal-enhanced photograph from Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue of 1891, scanned at Washington State Library
|The Mottman Building today (2012) Photograph courtesy of Deb Ross|
Most would agree that the intersection of Capitol Way and Fourth Avenue is the center of Downtown Olympia. Near here, Gallewski Kaufman and Ferdinand Toklas started a small mercantile store in the mid 1880s. (Toklas was father of famed expatriate Alice B. Toklas). It grew quickly and in the late 1880s Kaufman’s son Nathan persuaded the partners to build a great new building on the northwest corner of the intersection. This building, originally called the Olympia or Olympic Block, and built by brothers Sam and Charles Williams, was complete by 1891 (sources vary on the exact year of completion). It was erected on the site of the Sam Williams’s residence, whose store, Olympia Hardware was next door (the building still exists). According to historian Bernice Sapp, Williams’s house was moved to a location just south of the YMCA building.
The Toklas and Kaufman store store was originally two stories high. It featured all the modern conveniences, including two electric light fixtures (and 8 gas fixtures), an electric signaling system, and an efficient, knowledgeable staff. In the early 1890s, the store was sold to George Mottman. Mottman built a third story in 1911, and installed the first elevator in Olympia. The building was badly damaged during the 1949 earthquake, and has been modified significantly over the years.
For more information about and historical photographs of the building and the Kaufman family, follow these links:
Washington State Historical Society (enter catalog number in Collections Search box): C1949.1242.7 (street paving in 1909, Mottman Building in background); C1981.30x.4 (earthquake damage) , C19184.108.40.206.6; C2008.5.47 (Sam Williams home and store)
Digital Archives photograph (same photograph as above without charcoal enhancements)
Youtube video about the intersection of 4th and Capitol, episode in Now Where Were We? series
Link here to a memoir and selected information about this intersection and the Mottman building (Olyblog, source unattributed)