When Olympia was founded in 1848 it was still part of the vast Oregon Territory. Edmund Sylvester, who had grown up working the impossibly rich fishing grounds off Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Levi Lathrop Smith, a Presbyterian divinity student, each claimed a 320-acre land grant from the Oregon Provisional Government around the southern shores of Puget Sound. The two struck a pact that should either die, the survivor would gain the whole of Smither, which they christened their property from a mingling of surnames. It did not take long for the morbid pact to play out as Smith suffered an epileptic seizure while piloting a canoe and drowned.
Sylvester laid out building lots and the United States Congress authorized a custom house in 1851 that was the first port of entry created on Puget Sound. When Colonel Isaac N. Ebey arrived to take the post of customs collector he persuaded Sylvester to change the town name to reflect the magnificent Olympic Mountains visible to the north. About the same time a new territory was cleaved off the Oregon Territory north of the Columbia River in March of 1853 and Olympia was proclaimed capital. Six years after Sylvester and Smith made their wilderness claims a Territorial legislature was convening on the land. Olympia was incorporated as a town in 1859 with a population of 1,489.
Over the years there were repeated efforts to haul the capital away from Budd Inlet and down to the Columbia River. Roads were bad and the railroad didn’t reach town until the 1880s but the Territorial government remained anchored in Olympia. When another vote was taken to the move the capital upon statehood in 1889 Olympia prevailed with 37,413 ballots out of 41,416 cast.
Although oystering and logging and distribution all brought jobs to Olympia ithas been at heart a government town, serving as county seat for Thurston County as well as state capital. Much of the streetscape reflects that service, a panorama of shaded avenues and low-rise structures. That streetscape was permanently altered in 1949 when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake jolted the Puget Sound region. Almost all large buildings in Olympia suffered some damage and when repairs were made and structures shored up a great deal of early architectural personality was lost.
Out walking tour of the Washington capital will move from downtown out several blocks to Capitol Campus and we will begin on a still empty remnant of land from Edmund Sylvester’s first sketch of his planned townsite...
bounded by Legion Way, Capitol Way, Seventh Avenue and Washington Street
This square was Block 16 of Olympia founder Edmund Sylvester’s original plat of the town in 1850. Sylvester donated the land for a public square with the condition it remain a park in the tradition of the New England town square he knew from his native Maine. When the county courthouse was constructed in 1893 the square was formally landscaped for the first time and named after Sylvester. There was a Victorian gazebo and a fish pond and an ornamental iron fence erected around the edges. The pond has been filled in, the fence removed and the gazebo razed and replaced but the statue of John Rankin Rogers has stood in the square since 1905. Rogers, another Maine ex-patriate, was a two-time Washington governor who died in office of pneumonia in 1901 at the age of 63. A Populist, Rogers championed the “Barefoot Schoolboy Act” that spread public education to rural Washington counties with state support.
EXIT SYLVESTER PARK TO THE EAST, ON THE WASHINGTON STREET SIDE. IN FRONT OF YOU, THE IMPRESSIVE STONE BUILDING IS...
Old County Courthouse/ Old State Capitol
600 SE Washington Street between Legion Way and Seventh Avenue
This grand Victorian pile was created in 1892 to serve as the fourth Thurston County Courthouse. Architect Willis Ritchie, an Ohioan who practiced in Spokane for some 40 years and designed several Washington county houses of justice, tapped the brawny Richardsonian Romanesque style then popular for important government buildings. Based on the works of influential Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson, hallmarks of the style include rough-cut stone, triangular gables, rounded turrets and powerful arches. Chuckanut sandstone from Whatcom County quarries was used to craft the courthouse. In 1901 it was purchased for $350,000 to serve as the second Washington State Capitol, and after a second wing was added, it performed that duty from 1905 until 1928. After the legislature moved out a crippling fire swept the building and the 1949 earthquake claimed several turrets and the centerpiece octagonal clocktower as victims. Another tremor rattled the building in 1965 leading to a state commission to determine its fate. The answer was a $9 million renovation that was completed in 1983 for the home of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
FACING THE OLD STATE CAPITOL, TURN RIGHT AND BEGIN TO WALK COUNTERCLOCKWISE AROUND THE BUILDING. TURN LEFT ON SEVENTH AVENUE AND LEFT ON FRANKLIN STREET. ACROSS THE STREET ON THE CORNER IS...
Olympia Carnegie Library
620 SE Franklin Street at northeast corner of Seventh Avenue
The first books were lent in Olympia in 1869 from a reading room operated by Good Templars Lodge. In 1896 the Women’s Club of Olympia began taking donations for a library service. About that time Scottish-born industrialist Andrew Carnegie was selling his steel company for $400 million and becoming the world’s richest man. He set out to give away all his money and one of his pet projects was public libraries. He funded over 2,500 of them around the world, including 44 in Washington, most of which were in communities that had no existing public library. The libraries were constructed between 1901 and 1916; 33 still stand with 14 still active. In 1909 the city offered to assume responsibility for the 900-volume Women’s Club collection and maintain a public library. A Carnegie grant of $25,000 funded the creation of this compact Beaux Arts library building in 1914, fashioned of buff-colored brick and terra cotta. It served as the town library until 1978.
CONTINUE WALKING NORTH ON FRANKLIN STREET AND TURN LEFT ON LEGION WAY. WALK BACK TO WASHINGTON STREET.
208 SE Legion Way at northeast corner of Washington Street
This corner commercial building is a souvenir of the 19th century but like most Victorian-age structures in Olympia was treated roughly by earthquakes in 1949 and 2001, costing the Reed Block its parapet and Romanesque-styled windows. Thomas Milburne Reed was born in Sharpsburg, Kentucky, on December 8, 1825, of Scotch-Irish parentage. Reed made his way to San Francisco in 1849 to chase gold but wound up peddling goods and studying law. In 1857 Wells, Fargo & Company sent Reed to Olympia where he settled in as a store-keeper and surveyor while handling his sales agent duties. Reed also immersed himself in local politics, becoming president of the Territorial Council. He bankrolled this commercial block that housed the post office and the presses of Daily Olympian in 1891 while serving as Washington’s first state auditor. “Honest Tom Reed” passed away in 1905.
Old Hotel Olympian
116 SE Legion Way at northwest corner of Washington Street
City fathers in the early days of Olympia always harbored a nagging insecurity that the capital might be snatched away by a larger city. One of the things that was necessary to maintain the viability of Olympia was a first class hotel. Planning for just such a facility, the Hotel Olympian, began in 1916 but the doors did not open until July 16, 1920. The H.L. Stevens Company, a hotel construction specialist out of Chicago, executed a Georgian Revival composition that featured 155 rooms, half of which sported a private bathroom - the epitome of luxury at the time. So much political haggling took place in the Olympian’s meeting rooms and elegant dining rooms that it was consider the “real” capitol when the Washington legislature was in residence across the street.
113 SE 5th Avenue at southwest corner of Washington Street
George Martin arrived in Olympia in 1889 and got into the plumbing supply business. With his son James, the Martins expanded their reach into hardware and building materials. James also helmed the Olympia Sand and Gravel Company. The Martins constructed this commercial block in 1920 on plans drawn by Joseph Herman Wohleb. Wohleb was born in Connecticut to German parents in 1887 and came to Oakland with his family in 1900. He studied at the University of California in Berkeley. Pursuing architecture in Olympia, Wohleb brought California design influences with him as he became the town’s most prolific architect. The two-story structure faced in dark brick displays some hallmarks of Wohleb’s work such as inset tile laid in geometric patterns and a fondness for glass blocks. This corner was home of Woodbury Doane’s popular oyster house for many years. The captain began his trade in the 1870s pan-frying oysters on the Olympia waterfront but his tiny delicacies (the Olympia bivalve was so small it took 1,600 to create a gallon-pack) sold so well that he pulled up anchor and moved the restaurant downtown.
500 SE Washington Street at southeast corner of 5th Avenue
Joseph Wohleb filled up this intersection over the years, beginning with this studio for Joseph Jeffers, the town’s go-to photographer. Wohleb tapped the Mission Revival style for the 1913 building, drawing on his California sensibilities. Jeffers’ family came to Olympia in 1881 and he worked in lumber mills as a young man. He developed a fascination for Kodak’s early box cameras and in 1902 he struck out with his Kodak Brownie as a traveling photographer before returning to Olympia two years later to start a studio with his brother. Jeffers’ images would form a photographic record of everyday life in the capital in the early 1900s until his death in 1924 from a fall in the Olympic Mountains during a photographic expedition.
TURN RIGHT ON 5TH AVENUE.
Capitol Theater and Office Building
206 SE 5th Avenue at northeast corner of Washington Street
In 1909 E.A. Zabel purchased the Acme movie house that operated in this location presenting slides and live entertainment. The Acme would be the foundation for Zabel’s entertainment empire in Olympia which grew to include such houses as the Lyric, Rex, Ray, and Strand theaters at one time or another. In 1924 Zabel and William Wilson sunk $180,000 into The Capitol, destined to become the town’s grandest movie palace. Joseph Wohleb drew up the plans for the theater and the slightly less ornate office building attached. The architect dressed the Capitol in stucco with a classically inspired terra cotta cornice awash in sculpted scallop shells and rosettes. The theater could seat 900 and boasted such amenities as earphones for the hard of hearing, a glassed-in section for parents with small children and oversized seats for those challenged by the width of normal theater seats. The Smith pipe organ featured nine ranks of pipes for silent film accompaniment and live vaudeville acts and musical performances by such acts as Judy Garland. The building was damaged by a fire in 1937 and it emerged with a wholly new interior and a large neon marquee that became an Olympia landmark until it was removed in 2008. Ownership of the Capitol passed into the second generation of Zabels and has recently been purchased by the Olympia Film Society that has been the sole tenant since 1986. The Society has replaced the 1940s marquee with a replica of one the Capitol’s original signs.
TURN LEFT ON FRANKLIN STREET. TURN LEFT ON 4TH STREET.
210 SE 4th Avenue
Although the two storefronts have been compromised you can still look up and see Beaux Arts elements such as white terra cotta and the decorative cornice from the original 1914 building. It carries the name of its predecessor, the wooden frame Columbia Hall, that stood on this site from 1869 until it burned in 1914. Columbia Hall harbored both the Olympia town government and the fire department, whose pride and joy was a Columbia fire pumper. The moneymen for the commercial replacement were attorney P.M. Troy and banker Fred Stocking.
204 E 4th Avenue at northeast corner of Washington Street
Born on the Greek island of Andros, Alexander Pantages spent his twenties digging the Panama Canal, boxing in San Francisco and prospecting for gold in the Yukon Territory. He began his career as a show business exhibitor in Dawson City, Yukon as a partner to saloon and brothel-keeper “Klondike Kate” Rockwell, operating a small, but highly successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Orpheum. In 1902, at the age of 27, he was in Seattle opening the Crystal Theater and launching a chain of theaters across the West in Canada and the United States. His go-to architect was Benjamin Marcus Priteca, a Scot, who was barely 20 years old when he hooked up with Pantages in 1910. Priteca designed 22 theaters for Pantages and another 128 for other theater owners; this is one of his later designs, from 1949, in collaboration with Joseph Wohleb. The State traced a familiar storyline for downtown theaters in the battle with television and suburban malls - its original 1,000 seats were divided for three screens in the 1970s and then the movie house screened second-run films and finally dollar shows before shuttering in 1983. It was one of the fortunate ones, however, and rather than being reduced to rubble it received a million-dollar facelift in 1998 for the Harlequin Productions theater company.
203 E 4th Avenue at southeast corner of Washington Street
Olympia’s first “skyscraper” - five stories tall - joined the city streetscape in 1926. Since it was built on a part of Olympia that had once been tidal marshes about 300 60-foot long pilings were sunk for a foundation. This served the structure well when the city was rocked by earthquakes in 1949 and 2001. Architect Abraham Horace Albertson, a graduate of Columbia University and a veteran of the Spanish-American War, tapped the orderly Chicago Style for the design. Albertson was availed with some of the finest building materials seen in Olympia - the entry columns are formed from Mother-of-Pearl granite found only in a single quarry in British Columbia and inside are marbles imported from Europe and rich mahogany woodwork throughout. Albertson livened the building, which takes it name from the Security Bank that once anchored the ground level, with polychromatic terra cotta and fanciful decorations on the facade, including pineapples, griffins and roselies.
The Spar Café, 1935
114 SE 4th Avenue
Since the 1860s this lot has contained a saloon, a bowling alley, a pool hall and, beginning in1935, this Art Moderne-influenced building. For over 60 years, starting in 1945, the Spar was in the McWain family, evolving from a rough-and-tumble rooming house/bar into an Olympia institution. In its early days Olympia was known for its famous spring water with as many as 90 artesian wells in town; one located in the Spar’s cellar could pump eleven gallons a minute for customers. Like others on this block, the Spar is outfitted with Carrera glass tiles.
110 N Capitol Way at northeast corner of 4th Avenue
Andsworth H. Chambers was born near Olympia on June 25, 1851, seven years after his parents became some of the earliest homesteaders in the area. His work life began at the age of 12 and by 19 he was in business with his father, operating a meat packing operation. When he erected this eclectic commercial block in 1887 on the site of the original town pump, he was in his third term as Olympia mayor. Tacoma architect John G. Proctor provided an ornate design with projecting bays and soaring parapets. The 1949 earthquake claimed most of the decorative details although replacements attempt to capture the original form.
Olympic Block/Mottman Building
101 N Capitol Way at northwest corner of 4th Avenue
This commercial building was constructed in 1888 by Charles Williams and taken over in 1891 by Nathan G. Kaufman and Ferdinand Toklas for their mercantile store, southwest Washington’s oldest, largest and finest. Toklas’ 14-year old daughter would eventually settle in Paris, France and gain fame as the partner of poet Gertrude Stein for almost 40 years. Toklas and Kaufman would sell out to employee George A. Mottman, a future four-term mayor who is most associated with the building. Mottman added a third floor to the block in 1911 and installed the town’s first elevator. Mottman’s Mercantile remained open until 1967, all the while heeding to 19th-century ways of doing business with wire baskets on a pulley system carrying orders to the sales desks. The store became a tourist stop of sorts for nostalgia buffs as it was heralded as the last store of its kind in the United States. Thanks to damage during a 1949 earthquake and multiple renovations today’s rectangular building looks little like the Romanesque-flavored original.
Capital National Bank
402 S Capitol Way at southeast corner of 4th Avenue
Clarence J. Lord, a native New Yorker, left his father’s livestock importing business in 1890 when he was 25 years old to come to Olympia and open a bank. Despite the nationwide Panic of 1893 Lord prospered and by 1900 had sold his majority interest in Capital National Bank and headed for the richer grounds of Seattle. But he was shortly back in Olympia, re-acquiring control of the bank he founded and even getting elected as mayor in 1902. Lord commissioned the building of this stately bank headquarters in 1922. Architect Joseph Wohleb drew up a restrained Beaux Arts plan executed in Wilkeson sandstone from quarries fifty miles to the east. The next year Wohleb would design a grand Spanish Colonial villa for C.J. Lord that now does duty as the State Capital Museum. Lord was the dominant financial figure in Olympia during the first third of the 20th century until his death in 1937.
TURN LEFT ON CAPITOL WAY.
Olympia National Bank
422 S Capitol Way at northeast corner of 5th Avenue
This Neoclassical vault was raised in 1915 for the Olympia National Bank that had been organized back in 1899. Its creation moved the local press to gush, “One cannot gaze upon the solid, artistic white tile without a feeling that here is beauty, strength, and progressiveness. The building is a classic, both in point of exterior appearance and interior finish and arrangement.” Louis and Michael Beezer, twin brothers who began their architectural practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before coming west in 1907 to work a quarter-century in Seattle, drew up plans for the Beaux Arts confection that was built upon a base of high-quality native Wilkeson sandstone.
500 S Capitol Way at southeast corner of 5th Avenue
J.E. Walker, an accountant, hired his business associate Joseph Wohleb to design this commercial block for him in 1916. Like many of downtown Olympia’s properties it featured offices on the second floor and retail space below. Large plate glass windows were just coming into vogue at the time of their installation here.
609 S Capitol Way at southwest corner of Legion Way
The Benevolent Protective Order of Elks were founded in New York City in 1868 in the theater district. At first they referred to themselves as the Jolly Corks. The Olympia Lodge, BPOE #186, organized in 1891 with mostly state officials on the membership roster. In the late 1890s a change in party power and defections to the gold fields of the Yukon left the lodge so depleted it surrendered its charter. The Elks retained their number, however, confident of better days to come, which arrived on June 20, 1903. This four-story red-brick lodge was raised in 1919, created by Elks member Joseph Wohleb. It served the fraternal organization until 1958 and thirty years later received a makeover for housing and retail space, including a restoration of the glass pergola at the entrance.
North Coast Lines Depot,
107 SE 7th Avenue at southeast corner of Capitol Way
This small splash of Art Moderne on the Olympia streetscape was crafted in 1937 for the North Coast Lines, a bus operation started by the Puget Sound Power and Light Company in 1922 to augment is electric rail service. In 1949 North Coast became part of the Greyhound conglomerate. There have been makeovers to the building in 1942 and 1960 but it retains the sleek streamlined chrome canopy with sensuous curving corners.
Federal Building/Dolliver Building
801 S Capitol Way
Olympia’s grandest hotel in the 1800s stood here until it burned in 1904. A decade later this Neoclassical structure rose in its place as Olympia’s first dedicated post office building. Economical terra cotta was originally slated to be used in construction but it was replaced by Tenino sandstone and Alaska marble bringing the price tag to $120,227.00. James Doherty took his place as the first postmaster in the new building on opening day January 6, 1915. Over the years it served the U.S. Forest Service and myriad other federal agencies. Although most of its early 20th century contemporaries between Capitol Campus and downtown Olympia have been razed, the Federal Building stands as a vestige of an earlier time; in 1998 it took the name of James Dolliver who served for 22 years on the Washington Supreme Court.
Gibbons Rooming House
1017 S Capitol Way
This beefy Craftsman-style house with 18 rooms was constructed in 1918 by E.B. Crews for his daughter Jesse Crews Gibbons. She operated a boarding house here with a parade of Supreme Court justices and legislators as tenants until she closed the business in 1962. The building has since been fitted out as apartments; the pioneering Olympia businesswoman died in 1972.
TURN RIGHT ON 11TH AVENUE. TURN LEFT ON WATER STREET.
Water Street and Cherry Lane
Using Depression-era stimulus funds this greenhouse was constructed in 1939; it is another Joseph Wohleb design. The Conservatory provided bedding plants for the roster of Capitol Campus gardens, including a sunken garden across the street. Hundreds of varieties of tropical and desert plants were cared for here as well as native specimens used to populate the 54-acre capitol grounds. Its most famous resident was a Christmas cactus carried to Washington on the lap of a pioneer woman. The Conservatory, which in its heyday sheltered 500 varieties of plants and produced 70,000 flowers, was closed in 2008 and faces an uncertain future.
TURN RIGHT TO WALK TO THE FRONT OF THE WASHINGTON STATE CAPITOL.
State Capitol/Legislative Building
416 Syd Snyder Avenue at northwest corner of Cherry Lane
In 1893, four years after achieving statehood, Washington announced a nationwide design contest for its State Capitol building, allowing for a budget not to exceed $1 million. From almost 200 entries, New York architect Ernest Flagg’s plan was selected. Excavation was begun and a foundation laid but an economic recession halted construction. After moving into the old Thurston County Courthouse the plans for a Capitol Building were again kickstarted in 1909. Flagg was called back as a consultant and this time he recommended a group of buildings rather than an all-inclusive Capitol Building, the first such plan in the United States. Another design contest yielded Walter Robb Wilder and Harry Keith White of New York who proposed a grouping of six structures that would play off views of Puget Sound and the Olympia Mountains, The centerpiece was the Legislative Building that was dominated by a 287-foot high dome, the tallest self-supporting masonry dome in the country. It is flanked by four smaller sandstone domes; inside the floors and walls are sculpted with marbles from Alaska and across Europe. Count the steps on the north entrance leading through the Corinthian portico - there should be 42, symbolic of Washington’s admittance to the Union as the 42nd state.
TURN AROUND TO SEE...
Temple of Justice
415 12th Avenue SW at southwest corner of Cherry Lane
The Temple of Justice was the first of Wilder & White’s designs to come online, completed in 1920 as the home of the State Supreme Court and the State Law Library. The 15-foot high entrance doors are made from cast bronze; sandstone from the high-quality quarries of Wilkeson, Washington was used on the exterior. Its construction brought an end to the peripatetic wanderings of the court that began in Tacoma Hall in Tacoma in 1890. It then convened in Talcott’s Variety Store and Olympia’s commercial Kneeland Building.
CONTINUE PAST THE CAPITOL TO THE WEST END TO SEE...
Governor’s Mansion Road
You can glimpse at least the upper half of the gated and lushly landscaped Washington Governor’s Mansion. The 19-room executive house was crafted in a Georgian Revival style in 1908 by Everett Phipps Babcock and and Ambrose J. Russell of Tacoma. Although it was planned to be a temporary structure the mansion has survived several recalls and has been the home of every Washington governor for more than 100 years. Governor Albert E. Mead helped lay the cornerstone but was voted out of office before its completion and successor Samuel G. Cosgrove served only one day before falling ill and being whisked away to a spa in California where he died five weeks later. So the first governor to move into the mansion was Marion E. Hay whose wife Elizabeth went on a $15,000 shopping spree to fill the $35,000 home with furniture, much of which is still in use.
CONTINUE TO WALK AROUND THE CAPITOL. ON YOUR RIGHT, ACROSS FROM THE LEGISLATIVE BUILDING ARE THE...
John Cherberg/John O’Brien Buildings
304/504 Sid Snyder Avenue SW
These state office buildings were the last of the Wilder & White buildings to be constructed to complete the original plans for the Capitol Campus, in 1937 and 1940, respectively. The Senate Office Building is named for John Cherberg, a one-time University of Washington football coach who won eight-consecutive terms as Lieutenant Governor beginning in 1957 and served in the post for 32 years. The House Office Building now carries the name of John Lawrence O’Brien who served 26 terms in the legislature from 1939 until 1993, through the administrations of nine governors. O’Brien served on every major House committee and assumed every post in the House, including Speaker.
302 Sid Snyder Avenue SW at northeast corner of Cherry Lane
There were supposed to be two matching office temples but the Insurance Building is the only one that was built, in 1921 (the other was to be raised on the opposite side of the Legislative Building, on the site of the Governor’s mansion - th efirst time the house staved off demoltion). Behind the stately Doric facade and other classical trappings of the Insurance Buidling are modern office suites. Like most stately Olympia structures it is finished in Wilkeson sandstone.
TURN LEFT ON CHERRY LANE IN FRONT OF THE INSURANCE BUILDING AND WALK PAST IT TO SEE...
Winged Victory Monument
western terminus of the South Diagonal and the North Diagonal
The grounds of the Capitol Campus were laid out by the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, inheritors of the landscape design business of their father, Frederick Law Olmsted who is considered the Father of American Landscape Architecture. The Winged Victory Monument was first conceived as a remembrance to World War soldiers in 1919 but dedication did not take place until Memorial Day 1938. Alonzo Victor Lewis sculpted a bronze monument group including a sailor, soldier, marine and Red cross nurse protected by a 12-foot figure of Nike, the goddess of victory at war. Lewis, a Utah native, was honored as Washington Sculptor Laureate by the State Legislature shortly after the unveiling.
WALK PAST THE MONUMENT AWAY FROM THE LEGILATIVE BUILDING AND HEAD UP THE NORTH DIAGONAL TO YOUR LEFT. AS YOU HEAD BACK TOWARDS CAPITOL WAY LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT TO SEE IN THE MIDDLE OF THEGRASS TRIANGLE...
between North and South Diagonals
The original terraced Italian fountain upon which this hydrospectacular is based was created in the 1500s in the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, a village outside of Rome. It has since inspired many replicas, most notably a design by Danish architect Fritz Meyer in Copenhagen. It was that fountain that Peter Schmidt, president of the charitable Olympia-Tumwater Foundation stemming from the locally famous brewery, was smitten by during a European trip in 1949. He was so convinced that a similar fountain belonged on the Washington State capitol grounds that he began purchasing essential components for the fountain before even returning home. In 1953 the 50-foot fountain became a reality with 540 jets surrounding a 25-foot spout. Today the fountain is shut down between April 1 and October 30th each year, resting through the winter.
Thurston County Courthouse/Capitol Court Building
1100 S Capitol Way at southeast corner of 11th Avenue
Joseph Henry Wohleb plied his architectural trade for nearly 50 years until his death in 1958, contributing over 150 buildings to the Washington landscape. In the 1920s he eagerly embraced the stripped-down classicism of the Art Deco style that was adopted by the government for many of its buildings. This gray sandstone edifice of Wohleb’s from 1930 is a prime example of the form which featured poured concrete walls with metal frame windows. It was originally constructed as the courthouse for Thurston County, which stayed until the late 1950s.
TURN RIGHT ON 11TH AVENUE. TURN LEFT ON FRANKLIN STREET,
220 East Union Street at northwest corner of Franklin Street
The YWCA of Olympia organized in 1945 with a founding meeting of ten women looking towards the needs of thousands of service wives in the area. Three years later the YWCA purchased this commodious residence with a Tuscan porch and oversized roof brackets as a clubhouse. It was constructed in 1907 by J.F. Kearney, a grocer.
TURN LEFT ON 10TH AVENUE.
Abigail Stuart House/Women’s Club of Olympia
1002 Washington Street SE at southeast corner of 10th Avenue
Abigail Howard Hunt Stuart, a college-educated Boston native, was campaigning for women’s suffrage in Olympia as early as 1871. The Territorial legislature actually granted women the vote in 1883 but the law was struck down by the Supreme Court. In 1883 a group of nine women, including Mrs. Stuart, organized the Woman’s (now “Women’s”) Club of Olympia focusing at first on social and literary and travel subjects rather than politicized issues. The club used the Stuarts’ downtown commercial building as meeting grounds before purchasing a clubhouse that would burn down several years later. This handsome clubhouse was constructed in 1908 and named in honor of Abigail Stuart who passed away in 1902. Could members from 100 years ago come for meetings today they would recognize their original clubhouse that has changed little through its century of use.
TURN RIGHT ON WASHINGTON STREET.
Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Exchange
119 NE 7th Avenue at southwest corner of Washington Street
Carl Freylinghausen Gould was one of Washington’s most prolific architects and founder of the University of Washington’s Department of Architecture. New York-born and Harvard-educated, Gould brought a classical training from the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France with him to Seattle in 1908 when he was 35 years old. Gould designed several buildings for the phone company which favored the Art Deco craze in the 1930s, of which this brick structure is representative. Since 1997 it has done duty as residential apartments.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT SYLVESTER PARK.