Location: 522 Franklin St SE
|Sunset Life Insurance Building 1964, image from Thurston County Assessor files, Washington State Archives||
Original Sunset Life Insurance Building today (2012), photo by Deb Ross
What we now call the Sunset Life Insurance Building was constructed in about 1922 and originally used as a garage. It was built of concrete ashlar and had fixed metal awnings, recently removed. In 1923 First Congregational Church acquired the structure to use as a Sunday School building. First Congregational had recently abandoned its building on Main Street and merged with First Presbyterian; it held its services across the street at the First Presbyterian church building. About ten years later, First Congregational sold the building to the newly incorporated Sunset Life Insurance Company for their headquarters. Sunset Life occupied the location until 1958 until it moved to the new mid-century modern building, the Sunset Life Building on Capitol Boulevard. At some time during its tenure on this location, letters spelling out SUNSET were placed on the sidewalk along Legion Way. These have been preserved and are still visible. Several offices have occupied this site including, as seen above, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. The building was damaged during the 1949 earthquake. The building was also for a time the home of the Olympian newspaper, across the street from its earlier location at the site of Selden’s furniture store.
For more information follow these links:
Washington State Historical Society (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): C1996.6.5 (damage from earthquake)