Mark Foutch, President, Olympia Historical Society

Your Olympia Historical Society is enjoying an interesting and productive year.   We’ve had some new members join OHS and lots of current members renewing.   And so far there’s enough cash in our tiny treasury to cover expenses.

In February those attending our first General Membership meeting of 2011 heard an outstanding presentation by Gretchen Christopher, lead singer and composer with the late ‘50s-early ‘60s group The Fleetwoods.  She did a fine job of relating the realities faced by those three young Olympia High School students finding their way in the exciting but very money-oriented music business.   Early in June we’ll be partnering with the City of Olympia and the Stream Team in events that educate the public about Olympia’s historic shoreline.  And in between we’ll be participating in a series of events by the Washington State Historical Society and other groups commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Wilder and White plan for our State’s capitol campus.  (See Allen Miller’s story, below.)

Your OHS board has been reaching out to other groups devoted to various aspects of local history, or which could otherwise enter into a mutually-advantageous relationship with OHS.  One of the latter is the newly-energized Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau with its dynamic new director, George Sharp.   He is looking for partners in attracting more visitors to our area; we are looking for ways to interest more people in local history.   Your OHS board has welcomed Mr. Sharp’s offer of a no-cost two-way reciprocal membership between our organizations.  I’ve just sent him a letter accepting his offer in principle and raising a couple of details (e.g., would these be voting memberships?).  We’re looking forward to a productive partnership with the VCB and its tourism-oriented members.

Our Collections specialist, Sue Goff, has received from a local family a box of documents and photographs relating to a former Olympia mayor, David Gammell, who owned the Eastside Trading Company.  One fascinating item was his business ledger, showing retail transactions and credit purchase records over 20 years, by customers all over town.  Nice work, Sue!

And while I’m handing out “props,” I want to thank Sean Krier for agreeing to stay on as our website wizard.  Due to other demands on his time he had to resign from the OHS board but we’ll continue to benefit from his tech help.  Thanks, Sean!

So now:  Scroll down, enjoy Allen Miller’s lead article on Wilder and White’s seminal plan for the Capitol Campus.  Then see OHS Board Secretary Mark Derricott‘s story about Bush Prairie, the pioneer George Bush, and the butternut tree he brought across the Oregon Trail and planted here.  With a scion from that tree he then connects the narrative circle from Bush Prairie back up to our State Capitol grounds.

After that, take a break, and between gusts of cold wind, and showers of rain and hail, get outside and welcome Spring to Olympia!  (Or as a friend wisecracked last year, “If June is here, can Spring be far behind?)