Location: 202 Capitol Way N, parking lot south of 222 Capitol Way N
Women’s History; Diversity: African-Americans
|Pacific House late 19th century, Public Domain image from Blackpast.org website||Site of Pacific House (parking lot) today, with Rebecca Howard mural (2013), photo by Deb Ross|
In very early days of European settlement of Olympia, the center of town activity was near the then-waterfront, at about the current State Avenue and Capitol Way. Here was the home of the new territorial governor, Isaac Stevens, several commercial establishments, and the home of members of the Squaxin community, who constituted the majority of the population of early Olympia.
Here is where Colonel William Cock built the Pacific House, one of the earliest hotel/restaurants in Olympia. In 1859, African-American Rebecca Groundage Howard took over management of the Pacific House and soon became famous all over the northwest for her hospitality and good food. She was an enterprising restauranteur, active in the local community and in her church, and left a substantial inheritance when she died.
The location of the Pacific House is currently a parking lot on the other side of an alley from the Thorp Motors building, home to a number of retail businesses. In 2011, the City of Olympia commissioned a mural honoring Rebecca Howard, which is on the south side of the Thorp Motors building. Descendants of both the Howard and Cock families were present at the mural’s dedication.