Location: 525 Cherry St. SE
Popular Culture, Diversity: Jewish History, Women’s History, Schools, Wohleb

knittingmills1Olympia Knitting Mills photograph from City of Olympia Women’s Walking Tour fish brewingFish Brewing Company today
Photograph courtesy of Deb Ross

The Olympia Knitting Mills began its life in downtown Olympia, founded by Seattle businessman Sol Myer. With the completion of the Carlyon Fill in 1911, and the injection of capital by local financers such as Mitchel Harris and George Mottman, the company was able to build a factory at the corner of Legion and Cherry (formerly under water at the southern end of Swantown Slough). Here the company rapidly expanded, producing knitted sportswear, sweaters and bathing suits. The building was eventually extended to add the current two-story side on Legion, and the adjacent Mission Revival style office building designed by local architect Joseph Wohleb. The company folded in 1929 and the building took on a variety of uses, including serving temporarily as the Olympia High School gym , and as the headquarters for K Records in the 1990s. Over these later years, students and recording artists left their marks in the form of colorful graffiti on the concrete walls of the second floor space. In the 2000s, the building was leased for public performance and rehearsal space to The Loft on Cherry, but in 2009 the current lessee, Fish Tale Ale, removed the second story floor in order to expand its storage capabilities; it is hoped that the extensive graffiti left by decades of occupants will be preserved. A portion of the warehouse is used as an artists’ collective. 

Links to more information:

Ross, the Loft on Cherry (Olympia Historical Society newsletter article – contains additional links and photos of the performing space and grafitti)

Washington State Historical Society (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): Olympia Knitting Mills C1951.250.22;  C1951.250.23, C1951.250.24, C1951.250.29.25 (example of knit blouse), C1951.250.25; C1972.37.14

Olympia Heritage inventory

City of Olympia Women’s Walking Tour (search for Olympia Knitting Mills)

Looking back feature on Olympia Knitting Mills suit

For more information on Mitchel Harris, see listing for Harris Dry Goods store

Copyright © Deborah Ross