Origins of the Olympia Historical Society, Chapter 3

Mark Foutch

 

The first two chapters of this history described the Society’s early organizing efforts beginning in 2001, leading to formalizing the organization and its incorporation in February 2002. At the Society’s next two meetings the group began to change its focus as it scheduled public activities and offered historical information resources online, while continuing to set policy and wrap up its organizing tasks.

The Olympia Historical Society’s meeting for March 30, 2002, was called to order by interim President Annamary Fitzgerald at 10:10 a.m. at the Thurston County Courthouse.  Present were: Virginia Challen, Rebecca Christie, Drew Crooks, Spencer Daniels, Roger Easton, Lynn Erickson, Lois Fenske, Mark Foutch, Beverly Gunstone, Pat Harper, Russ Hupe’, Jim Jenner, Eve Johnson, David Kindle, Barbara McKeieley, Winnifred Olsen, Liza Rognas, Shanna Stevenson, Lanny Weaver, Tom Zahn.

Treasurer’s Report:  $640.00 in revenue; expenditures of $18.50 for checks and $51.40 for reimbursements of expenses; balance $569.66.

Announcements: Russ Hupe’ asked who was keeping the history of the Olympia Historical Society. Rebecca Christie replied she was keeping all materials including emails. Shanna Stevenson reported Drew Crooks’ presentation April 2 on the Hudson’s Bay Company in Thurston County.

Committee Reports:

Publicity Committee: Requested guidance on whether to pursue a newsletter or a (more scholarly?) publication. (See below for discussion/clarification of committee issues.)

Membership Committee: Rebecca Christie reported they were working on a membership brochure, using the Olympia Genealogical Society’s brochure as a model. Also, OHS had 33 members. She noted that only paid members are allowed to vote.
Collections Committee: Susan Goff resigned. Preliminary guidelines have been drafted but the geographical area of interest has not been decided. Examples: “Olympia and Environs” or “Olympia School District”.

Committee Clarifications:

Publicity: After discussion, the group settled on a quarterly newsletter format with OHS activities, schedule of events, possibly some original research.

Collections: Activities outside Olympia (Example: logging) had impact within Olympia.  But if the standard was too vague lots of extraneous material might be collected.  “Olympia and Environs” was the standard suggested by Annamary Fitzgerald; no further action taken. Roger Easton noted that extraneous material could be redistributed to other (interested) groups. Drew Crooks noted that items submitted had to be approved for accession by the Committee. Drew Crooks and Annamary Fitzgerald reported that the South Sound Heritage Association was a group of local museums that it might be good for OHS to join to coordinate accessions and other activities. Drew Crooks moved and Liza Rognas seconded, that OHS join SSHA for dues of $25 per year. (Apparent approval, no formal action noted in minutes.)

Committee Reports (Continued):

Finance and Fundraising: Drew Crooks noted that some people were joining OHS as institutional members. After the brochure is ready, service clubs and other groups will be approached about joining.

Logo Design: Roger Easton presented an oyster shell motif with the motto, “The Pearl of Puget Sound.” Nikki McClure will draw the logo but this might take a few weeks. (No formal action noted; apparent agreement?)

Web/phone: Drew Crooks has secured a debit card for Ed Echtle to use; Echtle will now secure www.olympiahistory.org as the OHS website URL. Ed Echtle also reported costs for a phone line going directly to voice mail: $16 per month plus hookup charges, plus $.02 per minute for incoming calls. Rebecca Christie said this was too expensive; Annamary Fitzgerald agreed. The web presence is more important at this time. (Old media was losing to new media even at this early date!)

Meeting Locations: Rebecca Christie has secured the Courthouse meeting room for future meetings but it is always possible that County business could bump OHS from the room’s schedule. Other locations suggested were Madison School, Apollo’s Pizza, Puget Sound Energy.

Membership (Continued Discussion): Annamary Fitzgerald cited confusion about voting rights for various categories of members. Decision: Clarify Bylaws that one membership means one vote, by changing “regular” to “individual” membership category. Liza Rognas moved, Tom Zahn seconded; approved.

Other matters: Rebecca Christie asked for suggestions to organizations to be added to OHS’ Email notification list.

Programs:

Eve Johnson, representing Friends of the Waterfront, discussed the City of Olympia’s proposed zoning amendment to allow higher buildings on the downtown Isthmus.  She said this would block views of the Capitol and endanger historic buildings. It also would impede views of the waterfront and restrict public access. She reminded the group that local activists saved Sylvester Park and this is a similar situation. Lois Fenske asked what citizens should do; Annamary Fitzgerald suggested contacting the City Council.

Lynn Erickson presented her project, “The View From Sylvester’s Window.”  It will consist of eight views of Olympia looking north from where Edmund Sylvester’s mansion south of Sylvester Park would be built/was built/once was. Years completed to date: 1841, 1856, 2001. She is developing a classroom curriculum using smaller versions of the paintings to discuss urban design, architecture, etc. Members congratulated Lynn on her project, and the meeting adjourned at noon.

The Society’s May 2 meeting was called to order by Annamary Fitzgerald at the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Building on Lilly Road NE at 7:08 p.m.

Present: Bob Arnold, Rebecca Christie, Marilyn Connon, Drew Crooks, Spencer Daniels, Lynn Erickson, Lois Fenske, Annamary Fitzgerald, Susan Goff, Pat  Harper, Genevieve Hupe’, Russ Hupe’, Thomas Kerr, David Kindle, Eve Johnson, Shanna Stevenson, Lanny Weaver.

Treasurer’s Report: Drew Crooks reported $789.66 in the checking account at South Sound Bank.

Housekeeping Items: Need to discuss a Draft Collections Policy, Nominations for Permanent Office, Meeting Location, Monthly or Bi-Monthly Meetings, Logo.

Meetings: Drew Crooks suggested the whole group meet bi-monthly and the officers meet monthly. Bob Arnold agreed. Russ Hupe’ said the group should meet monthly.  Lois Fenske suggested bi-monthly until permanent officers were elected. Drew Crooks suggested the group meet in June but not July; in August there should be a slate of nominees (this would be six months after incorporation, per the Bylaws). But if officers were elected in August they would have less than a one-year term. Annamary Fitzgerald will appoint a Nominating Committee to propose a slate of Board candidates for the August meeting. The Public Health and Social Services building would be the permanent meeting location. There would be no July meeting.

Collections: Some donations received already. Drew Crooks has adopted the Lacey Museum’s accession form to accept them: Postcards of downtown Olympia ca. 1920, collected by Olympia Light and Power. At Sue Goff’s suggestion, Drew and Annamary agreed to establish a screening committee. On an interim basis donated items would be given to Drew who will use his adaptation of Lacey’s accessioning system, marking items in pencil for now. Lanny Weaver reported an inquiry about two clocks from the Olympia Fire Department. The Collections Committee will continue to flesh out the collections policy. Spencer Daniels asked about acknowledgement letters for donations.  Drew Crooks replied that the deed of gift constituted an acknowledgement. Questions arose about the tax deductibility of donations. Annamary Fitzgerald replied that OHS did not yet have 501(c)(3) status; will discuss at the next meeting. (As of 6/18/13 OHS still does not have tax exempt status; in process of applying.)

Logo: OHS will keep “for the time being” the earlier version of the oyster shell logo with the motto, “The Pearl of Puget Sound.”  Will revisit the logo after a permanent Board is elected.

Announcements:

Annamary Fitzgerald noted a (statewide?) request from Secretary of State Sam Reed for Territorial Sesquicentennial projects. OHS will sponsor, probably with the Olympia Heritage Commission, Kent Richards to speak on Gov. Isaac Stevens in November 2003, to commemorate Stevens’ arrival in Olympia November 25, 1853.

Shanna Stevenson reviewed a recent meeting about the (Art Deco) Greyhound Bus Station and concerns for its preservation.

Three requests for information have been posted on the OHS website, about: A chair inscribed November 28, 1853; Jothan Goodall’s Point, A.E. Hicks and Gallatin Hartsock; and Friendly Grove in NE Olympia.

Susan Goff volunteered to be a screener for the web requests and refer them to the appropriate museum or group.

Committee Reports:

Outreach/Education: Drew Crooks reported planning an OHS booth for the August 2 Family History Day at the State Capitol Museum. He is also working on speakers for the June and August meetings.

Publications: Lois Fenske reported the committee is planning a newsletter for September.  Susan Goff will provide an article on the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exhibition by Olympia High School and will ask Michael Houser for an item on Olympia City Hall. Shanna Stevenson will provide information on Francis Sylvester; Drew Crooks will provide one of the donated postcards for an illustration.

Membership: Rebecca Christie presented the draft membership flier. Members suggested 250 copies for the first printing; members would distribute them instead of mailing.

Program: Lois Fenske presented “A Short History of South Puget Sound Community College” as part of the school’s 40th Anniversary Celebration. Lois has been involved with the College since its beginnings as Olympia Vocational-Technical Institute.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

So, in slightly less than nine months after the first organizational meeting, the Olympia Historical society had organized and incorporated, and addressed issues of policy, procedure and logistics.  It had produced its first programs, established an active Website, and received its first collections, all while planning for the next phase:  Electing permanent officers and Board members, which would relieve the general membership of the need to meet as a “committee of the whole” so frequently to conduct Society business. 

 

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