Location: 904 Washington St SE
Local Register, Women’s History, Religious Institutions; Diversity: African-Americans
St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1891, photograph from Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue, at State Library
First Baptist Church today (2012) Photo by Deb Ross
St. John’s Episcopal Church is one of the oldest congregations in Washington, first organized in 1854. For a number of years it met in various locations, then built its first permanent building on 7th and Main, where the Governor Hotel currently stands. The building shown above, at 9th Avenue and Washington Street was completed in 1891, about the time of the photograph to the left. The bell, rose window and some furnishings were moved to this new location. The congregation moved to its third permanent location at Capitol and 20th between 1949 and 1957. The building pictured here is now the home of the First Baptist Church of Olympia, which has added a large wing to the north. It is on the local register.
St. John’s was the congregation for several important Olympia families, including the Percivals and Woodruffs; and Mrs. Rebecca Howard, African-American proprietor of the Pacific House. Shortly after its completion, it was the host for the most spectacular wedding in Olympia, that between Eliza Ferry (daughter of Governor Ferry), and millionaire John Leary from Seattle. The church also was the home of the Busy Bees, a group of young female parishioners who were responsible for raising much of the funds for this church building.
Washington State Historical Society photographs (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): C19184.108.40.206.6; C19220.127.116.11.26.1.21
Billings home across the street, with glimpse of church at left, from Moody Collection
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross