Star Laundry Building/Stevens Survey Party Heaquarters

Location: 301 Capitol Way N

starlaundry_1964Star Laundry Building 1960, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives
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 Star Laundry Building today(2014), photo by Deb Ross

When Isaac I. Stevens was appointed by President Franklin Pierce to be the first Territorial Governor of Washington Territory, he chose to kill two birds with one stone by successfully bidding to survey a potential railroad route to the Pacific Northwest. He spent most of 1853 slowly working his way across the country, along with his survey party. When he arrived in Olympia to take up office, he found the new capital of the territory to be little more than a muddy crossroads at the southern tip of Puget Sound. He installed himself in the Galliher Hotel, and, according to historian Bernice Sapp, lodged his surveying party at this location across the street, which would have been waterfront at the time. According to the Thurston County inventory, the property was owned by Gustav Rosenthal, a merchant and early oysterman.

The building at this location today was the home of the Star Laundry, owned by the Agnew family (see Agnew Duplex in Where Are We?). From its earlier modest clapboard structure, shown in the link below from 1914, Sanborn Insurance maps show that it was a large and modern structure, and must have served the booming commercial, maritime, and industrial business here in the 1920s and beyond. As can be seen from the 1960 photograph at above left, it continued in business until at least the 1960s.

The building is now the home of Lassen Electric, founded by Irving Lassen, whose previous sporting goods store is found on this page. See also Lassen House

Links:

Olympia Heritage Inventory

Washington State Historical Society photograph from 1914 (enter the following catalog number in Collections Search box, 2010.129.27.1

Article, Sapp, Olympia 100 Years Ago

1879 Bird’s Eye View of Olympia, showing the proximity of this site to the waterfront at Second and Main.

 

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