Location: 915 Capitol Way S
local register; Wohleb; transportation
Rear view of Weidner Auto Court, on 10th Avenue, 1965, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives
Weidner Auto Court buildings today (2014), photo by Deb Ross
The Pacific Highway in Washington State was designated in 1910, at the advent of the automobile age, to connect the cities of Washington State. In 1926, it later became part of U.S. Route 99, the major north-south route on the West Coast. In Olympia, the Pacific Highway proceeded along Capitol Way and then turned onto Fourth Avenue. Along with the highway’s establishment came the need for automobile-oriented businesses. Olympia obliged by creating and promoting several eating establishments, hotels, and automotive services along the route. It also was one of the first cities in the west coast to create one-way street pairs through the city, State and Fourth Avenues.
Ernie Weidner (brother of O. Weidner who owned the Weidner Rummy Club) commissioned architect Joseph Wohleb to create one of the area’s first motels, the Weidner Auto Court, in 1929. Its two Capitol Way facades are decorated in mock-Tudor style, and its rooms stretch along an inner courtyard. Built on an L-shaped lot that faced both Capitol Way and 10th Avenue, the motel wrapped around the Congregational Manse. The view at above left shows the 10th Avenue side of the motel in 1965. The building has been well preserved and is on the local heritage register.
The portion of the court facing 10th Avenue was the site of the Louis P. Ouellette House. Ouellette was an important figure in early Thurston County history. He founded the Puget Sound and Chehalis Railway, one of the early logging railroads, and was surveyor general for Thurston County.
Washington State Historical Society photograph (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box), C1952.226.67 (Ouellette House, not scanned)
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross