The [Egbert-Ingham] house first appeared in print in the forerunner of The Olympian on December 20, 1914 as having been completed that spring. Called “one of the finest homes in the city”, it cost $6,000. to build. The same article noted that the Carnegie library was also completed that year for $21,000. The average bungalow cost $1200 in 1914.
A wealthy industrialist from Shelby, Ohio built the house as a wedding present for his daughter. He owned 5 factories, one of which manufactured the first bubble gum in America. The daughter, Dana Seltzer Egbert had married Dr. Curtis Egbert, a dentist who had come to Olympia in 1902. They married in 1912, having bought the lot from the Mottman family; the house went up in 1913. Move in day was in the spring of 1914.
Dana Egbert’s first party was in 1915 for ladies to knit mittens for the Belgians who were suffering during the First World War when Germany overran Belgium.
The state capitol had not yet been built. The Egberts watched the capitol campus go up from 1917 through the 1928. The house was originally located at 119 West 14th, where the “round” Capitol Information building is now. Dana’s four street trees and some street side landscape are all that’s left. The actual site is now a parking lot.
One of the architects of the capitol, Walter Wilder of Wilder and White, New York City, rented one third-floor room from Dana and had his drafting tables there. He was a friend of the family and supervised the building of the capitol from this house. The whole capitol campus was visible from the house. They were exciting years to watch the magnificent buildings go up between ’17 and ’28.
Dana was very interested in technology like her father and added the first continuous cabinets, the first dishwasher, and the first garbage disposal in Olympia in 1927. She added the wall trim (faux bois) detail in the living room in 1924 and the exterior shutters in 1937. They are still on the house and still operate as shutters as intended.
Dana’s 1946 obituary told that she built the Girl Scout House (on 11th Street, gone now) for the community. First Lady Lou Henry Hoover reputedly stayed with Dana on a visit to Olympia when she was President of the Girl Scouts of America. Many other prominent state and national personalities have been through the house over the years.
Dr. Egbert had died in 1936 of pneumonia, “playing golf in the rain”. Dr. Reed Ingham bought the house from their children in 1947. Reed Ingham was related to Mark Reed, one of the founders of Simpson Timber. The Inghams lived happily here until the fateful day in 1960 when the state told them they had to give up their house for the expansion of the capitol campus. They managed to hold on until 1969 and then the state became the owner of the house. It was to be torn down.
The City of Yelm bought the house from the state for one dollar. Yelm received a grant of $167,000 to use the house for a community center. Yelm could not come up with more funds to move it, however, so the house reverted back to the state.
Again it was to be torn down, but fortunately, the Legislature, after many years of indecision, finally granted funds for the renovation of the 1908 Governor’s Mansion. It was decided to make the house a temporary “Mansion”…saving it from the wrecking ball a second time. When former Governor Dan Evans and Nancy Evans later visited to see their old “home,” Nancy told the Goulartes that of “all the government issued housing she’d had to live in, this one was her favorite.” The Evans lived here in 1973 and ’74 until they moved back into the “real” mansion.
The house then became state offices…the architects of the campus expansion had their office there…just as Walter Wilder once did. When the campus expansion was completed, the house was no longer needed and faced being torn down for the third time.
Just days from demolition, James Curnutt bought the house from the state for $1200 and, in a very publicized move, relocated the house to Adams Street in 1979. The front porch was dismantled and thrown into the living room. The rear projections were thrown away. The house had to be winched across the I-5 Bridge because the bridge could not hold both the truck and the house. The truck BACKED the house into the street and between two ancient apple trees and then TURNED it to face west.
The decrepit house had been vacant for 6 years when David and Ruthann Goularte bought it in 1989. David has his drafting table where Walter Wilder once had his.
Built in the waning years of the Edwardian era ended by WWl, the Goulartes chose to restore and create a contemporary version of the time. You might feel as if you’ve returned to the days of the Titanic when you walk in.