Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Naramore, Bain, Brady, and Johanson, (NBBJ) (firm); Wohleb and Wohleb, Architects (firm); William James Bain Sr. (architect); Clifton J. Brady (architect); Perry Bertil Johanson (architect); Floyd Archibald Naramore (architect); Joseph Henry Wohleb (architect); Robert Henry Wohleb Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1951-1952

2 stories

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600 Capitol Way North
Downtown, Olympia, WA 98501

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This was Georgia-Pacific's corporate headquarters for one year, while the plywood and lumber company moved its base of operations from Augusta, GA, to Olympia, WA, in 1953. Following his move west, and, due to its founder and chairman, Owen Cheatham's unorthodox and aggressive financing methods, Georgia-Pacific (G-P) became " of the nation’s fastest growing businesses in the 1950s." (See Harvard Business School, "Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century," accessed 07/05/2016.)

Designed by the Seattle architectural firm of Naramore, Bain, Brady and Johanson (NBBJ) and its Olympia-based associate, Wohleb and Wohleb, the Olympia headquarters building cost $200,000 to complete in 07/1952. It served double duty, housing executives of the firm, and serving as a three-dimensional advertisement highlighting G-P's plywood and timber products.

Building History

Businessman Owen R. Cheatham (1902-1970) founded the Georgia Hardwood Lumber Company in Augusta, GA, in 1927, and had, within eleven years, grown to control 5 mills across the south. With tree supplies being depleted in the south, Cheatham turned his attention to WA State in 1947 to secure large supplies of old-growth Douglas fir trees for plywood use; he acquired the Bellingham Plywood Corporation in 1947. The new firm changed its name to the Georgia-Pacific Plywood and Lumber Company in 1948, and began expanding in the Pacific Northwest, buying up old-growth timber acreage and nearby sawmills. (See W. Scott Prudham, Knock on Wood: Nature as Commodity in Douglas-Fir Country, [New York: Routledge, 2005], p. 70.) Mills were purchased in Olympia, WA, and Springfield, OR, and G-P gradually shifted its administrative operations west. In 1953, it transferred its headquarters from Augusta, GA, to Olympia, WA. In 1954, G-P set up new headquarters in Portland, OR. (See Donald Mathew Alanen, The Logger's Encyclopedia: A Road to the Past, [Baltimore : PublishAmerica, 2008], n.p.) By the early 1960s, it had become the largest producer of softwood plywood in the US and its fourth-largest manufacturer of Douglas fir-lumber.

PCAD id: 20310