Many people ask me questions about the building that we occupy here at 705 4th Avenue. Until recently, I had only known that it was once an automobile showroom, and had thought it was built in the 1920’s, but I’ve recently learned more!
The building is named the Indian Creek Building and was built on this site in 1918. It is right on the edge of what was the historic shoreline of Olympia’s tidal flats. It was built not long after the flats were filled and Moxlie Creek and Indian Creek were piped underground, right next door to us under Chestnut Street.
The building itself is of masonry construction, and was the home to McClain Motors, one of the first automobile dealerships in Olympia. Although the first floor is now separated into three different businesses, originally, I imagine it was one big open showroom. Most people don’t know that there is a large ramp in the back of the building. Though the current one is probably not the original, there must have been one like it there to move cars to the upstairs portion of the building. When I first moved into the building, there were oil stains on the ceiling, and my romantic side imagined that those stains were from some of those early cars.
The one-way road in front of the building, 4th Avenue, was then, as it is now, one of the main roads out of town. It has carried the historic designations of US 99 and US 101 when those highways were in service and the main thoroughfare. The state recognizes the building as representing the local shift from water-based transportation to land-based. Later the building was home to McMahan’s Furniture store.
How about prior to the current building? Prior to the Indian Creek Building, the site was the home of Charley Vietzen, a German immigrant who operated Charlie’s Place Saloon on the corner of 4th and Capital Way where the US Bank is now. Each day on his way to work, he would have had to cross a bridge over the Swantown Slough (which was later filled as described above.) Before Mr. Vietzen, of course, this location would have been occupied for millennia by early ancestors of the Squaxin Island Tribe.
Today, and most days, I think about all the people who have occupied this space before me. It’s been a good home for me, and I enjoy my neighbors Doo’ps Copy Tech and Courtyard Antiques. I hope the next time you are here you take a look around to appreciate the building and it’s location as much as I do.