Location: 118 8th St SE
|Sylvester Mansion 1860-1870|
Photograph courtesy of Washington State Historical Society
|Site of Sylvester Mansion today (2012)Photo courtesy of Deb Ross|
Edmund Sylvester co-founded the City of Olympia and platted its downtown in 1848. At first living in a log cabin, he began building his mansion in 1857, hiring local craftsman Konrad Schneider to clear the land and build the home. It was an Italianate structure with a tower overlooking the Public Square (Sylvester Park), which Sylvester had laid out and donated to the city following the town commons concept from his native Maine.
The mansion set the standard for this part of Olympia, between Downtown and the Capitol, which eventually boasted several large residences, adapting to the prevailing architectural styles of their day. Only a few remain. The Sylvester Mansion was moved to make way for commercial development, served briefly as a children’s home, and then was burned by arsonists in 1961.
The Sylvester’s Window project, spearheaded by historian Lynn Erickson, features a series of paintings reflecting the changing landscape of Olympia as though seen from the mansion’s tower. The paintings and associated materials are on permanent display at the Olympia Timberland Regional Library and available on-line here.
Washington State Historical Society Photos (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): C2009.0.1044, C2018.0.114; C1922.214.171.124.4
For more information on the Sylvester and Schneider families, see Residents section of this website