Location: Block bounded by Capitol, A, Washington, and B
Women’s history; Popular culture; Transportation

OlympiaCanningCo_1948Olympia Canning Company, processing pears, 1948, Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Southwest Regional Archives
Harbor Heights building, photo courtesy Harbor Heights

As various fill operations extended available land north from State Avenue in the early 20th century, industrial development moved in to take advantage of the new space. The availability of the Budd Inlet watercourse made this a natural location for industries that required access to shipping. The Olympia Canning Company was established here around 1912 and took up an entire block between A and B Avenues. The company processed not only fruit, but also vegetables and even fish and shellfish. The company employed many girls and women, some as young as 11 or 12. The company continued here until 1959.

Soon after, the Seamart store opened in the aging building. One of the earliest mega-grocery stores, it evolved into a funky combination of cut-rate goods, amusement rides and arcade. The store was a favorite for youngsters and, later, Evergreen students looking for bargains, or just a way to get out from the rain (although some fell through the leaky roofs). Seamart and its successor Yardbirds store closed in the late 1980s. In 1999 a three-alarm fire destroyed the vacant building. The property sat vacant for a number of years and is now the Harbor Heights apartment complex. 

Olympia Historyspot

Article, Mary Zindt, Memories of Olympia in the 1920s and 1930s

Olyblog post, Seamart/Yardbirds

Three alarm fire destroys Yardbirds building, Youtube posting

Women’s History Walking Tour

Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross