Ray Theatre/Timberland Bank

Location: 423 Washington St SE
Downtown National Historic District, Popular Culture

raytheaterRay Theatre, 1914,  Robert Esterly photo courtesy of Washington State Historical SocietyTimberland BankTimberland Bank building today (2012) photograph from Timberland Bank website

In about 1914, the Zabel family, who owned several theaters downtown, built the Ray Theatre here, pictured at above left, at the corner of Fifth and Washington. In this same year, Robert Esterly took the picture as part of his series featuring Olympia businesses and their owners. The theater later boasted a Wurlitzer organ, as did others owned by the same family. This theater was closed when the Capitol Theatre was built nearby.

This location is now the Timberland Bank, formerly Capitol  Savings and Loan. According to the Thurston County assessor, this is the same building as the Ray Theatre, although it clearly has lost most of its elements. The fixed canopies along Washington and Fifth Avenue are a nod to the original design and the overall architectural themes of downtown Olympia. The building is located in the Downtown National Historic District, but the building itself is not considered to be contributing to the district’s historic flavor. However, long-time employees at the bank confirm that above the dropped ceiling there are still remnants of cinema wall decorations. 

According to historian Bernice Sapp, the property at northern side of this building on Washington Street was the home of pioneer Jacob Ott and family, and on the southern side was the home of the Tilleys (see Tilley Stable site).

Additional links (note that both the Cinema Treasures and Downtown National Historic District incorrectly place the Ray Theatre at the site of the current New Caldonia building):

Cinema Treasures: Ray Theatre

Downtown National Historic District

Washington State Historical Society photograph (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): 2010.149.4.1

Sapp, Olympia 100 years ago

Thank you to bank employee Jacquie for memories of cinema decorations above dropped ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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