Squaxin Park (formerly Priest Point Park)

Location: 2600 East Bay Dr NE
Local register, Religious institutions, Diversity: Native Americans

Dock Priest PointDock, Priest Point Park, early 20th century, Olympia Historical  Society Collection Priest Point Park

Squaxin Park (Priest Point Park) today (2012) photograph by Deborah Ross

Originally a Native American settlement, the area just north of Olympia was settled by Euro-Americans in 1848, when an Oblate Mission was established here in the very first years of Olympia’s birth. The mission of French-speaking Catholic priests was headed by Father Pascal Ricard, who established a church for Native American boys here. Members of the local Squaxin Tribe as well as neighboring Nisquallies, Puyallup and Snohomish also had an ongoing trading post here.

After the dissolution of the mission, the property changed hands several times and was subdivided. During the depression of 1893 the property was foreclosed, and city fathers proposed turning the property into a park. Local citizens donated materials and labor to establish a wide range of entertaining activities here, including a chalet, a zoo, and a swimming pool. The park retains some of its original elements in the form of picnic shelters, a swing set, the beaches, and the popular gliders, as well as extensive walking trails.

The name of the park was changed to Squaxin Park in April 2022. 

Additional links:

Article: Olsen and Fenske, The History and Memories of Priest Point Park

Article: Echtle: The Early History and Development of Priest Point Park

Olympia Heritage inventory

Washington State Historical Society (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box) C1988.16.8

City of Olympia webpage, Squaxin Park

Youtube video, part of Now, Where Were We series on PCTV/TCTV
















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