Location: west side of Columbia St. between 10th and 9th Avenues
Religious communities

St. Michael Parish, around 1890, from centennial booklet, 1976

Site today,  photograph by Deborah Ross (2017)

St. Michael Parish had three structures on the west side of Columbia St. between 10th and 9th Avenues between 1879 and 1965. The parish was created in 1875, a member of the Seattle Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Early on, the diocese had acquired property just south of the original Territorial Capitol, between Main Street (now Capitol Way) and the banks of the Deschutes Estuary. This area was also the location of Providence Academy and the first St. Peter’s Hospital. The parish was sited in the block bounded by 9th, Columbia, 10th, and Main Street (Capitol Way). It sold the adjacent block to the east to the First Congregational Church

By 1879, a 1 1/2 story wooden church stood at the southeast corner of the block, where it can be seen in the 1879 Bird’s Eye View linked below. According to the centennial booklet published by the parish in 1976, the church building was not dedicated until 1880. Ten years later, in 1890, a new, larger structure was built, at the northeast corner of the block. This is the structure pictured in the image at above left. The original building was converted into a residence for the priest. 

Then, in 1919, a brick veneer building was erected at the site of the original church, on the southeast corner of the block. In 1963 the building was damaged by arson. 

In 1965, the parish was moved to a new building at 1021 Boundary. The original site is now mostly a parking lot, another example of a “paved paradise” in Olympia. 

Additional resources:

Washington  State Historical Society (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box), 2016.0.8 (steeple of second St. Michael structure can be seen behind First Congregational Church building); C1986.  ; C1986. C1986. (brick structure; latter two photographs of arson fire)

Bird’s Eye View of Olympia, 1879 (location number 4)

Thank you to John Grausam for historical information and for sharing centennial booklet. 

Copyright © 2022  Deborah Ross