Les Schwab Building (demolished)/site of P.J. O’Brien’s Blacksmith

Location: 217 Columbia St NW
Transportation; Diversity: Native American history

o'brien shopP.J. O’Brien Blacksmith Shop around 1900, photograph courtesy of Washington State Historical Societyles_schwabCanoe Journey Mural on side of Les Schwab building (2012), Photograph courtesy of Deb Ross

Even before the 1911 Carlyon Fill project, the Port area north of State Avenue started evolving into an area of light and heavy industrial activity, as well as a zone for less genteel businesses such as brothels and saloons (see also Dead Zone). P.J. O’Brien’s Blacksmith shop, adjacent to Percival Landing and on the north side of State Avenue, was an example of the former, as was a recent occupant of this location, Les Schwab tires (now demolished). For a time this site was also the home of the Columbia Furniture Company, and a Coca Cola Bottling Warehouse. The Les Schwab building was erected in 1941. The Port area is gradually returning to an area of mixed use, including commercial businesses, residents, and industrial activity.

In 2012, the Olympia Downtown Association and the Olympia Heritage Commission commissioned a mural painted on the side of the Les Schwab building to commemorate the Canoe Journey Paddle to Squaxin event that occurred that year.

Links to more information:

Washington State Historical Society (enter the catalog numbers in Collections Search box): C1956.20.5 (above photo); C1964.






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