Location: 700 Capitol Way N
Popular Culture, Diversity: Scandinavians
|Washington Veneer 1924-1930
photograph from Digital Archives
|Farmer’s Market today (2012), Photo courtesy of Matthew Kennelly
With the completion of the Carlyon Fill in 1911, the port area of Olympia was able to accommodate dramatic industrial growth. The Olympia Veneer Company was founded in 1921 as a revolutionary example of a cooperative company, owned by its workers. Located at the far northern tip of the port area, it also developed some techniques that were soon copied by other manufacturers. The mill employed many Scandinavian immigrants, recently arrived to this area in the early 20th century.
Drawing on the success of Olympia Veneer, the Washington Veneer Company was founded in 1924 just to the south of Olympia Veneer. On June 29, 1929, William Jackstead and Grayce Carr were wed atop the Washington Veneer smokestack, as a publicity stunt.
Plywood was in heavy demand during this period for residential construction as well as wartime needs, and Olympia had a steady supply of old growth lumber to draw from. Photographs of this era show a haze of black smoke filling the skies over the port. The Olympia Veneer plant was sold to St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Company in 1949. The smokestacks of both companies were damaged in the 1949 earthquake, but both companies continued to operate successfully until the 1950s.
By 1960 both of these companies were gone from Olympia, and other businesses took their place. The Farmer’s Market began at a location just south of here, and expanded to its current location in the 1990s.
Washington State Historical Society photographs (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): 1998.81.15 (earthquake damage, Washington Veneer); C1962.1716.1 (sawmill department, Washington Veneer)
Youtube video about Port of Olympia wood products industries
Thank you to Roger Gustafson, whose father helped found Olympia Veneer.
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross