AKA: Washington State Capitol Building #3, Olympia, WA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - capitols

Designers: Ritchie, Willis, A., Architect (firm); Willis Alexander Ritchie (architect)

Dates: constructed 1891-1892

3 stories

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2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502

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The Thurston County Courthouse #1 has served as both a county courthouse and statehouse. It was designed by Willis A. Ritchie (1864-1931), a native of OH, who began a successful architectural practice in KS, before relocating to WA in 1889, the year it became a state. Ritchie would become one of the state's most successful and controversial early architects, well-known for his designs of county courthouses in several WA counties just after statehood.

Building History

The renowned New York architect, Ernest Flagg (1857-1947), won a national architectural competition to design Washington's Second State Capitol Building in 1893. Due to the serious economic depression that occurred that year stifling development across the U.S., the Flagg-designed building never rose above its foundations. After four years, the State Legislature passed additional money to erect the building, but the governor vetoed this bill, opting instead to rent the existing Thurston County Courthouse for use as the capitol. The State of Washington purchased the building from the county in 1901 for $350,000, as a replacement for the stalled Flagg design. The building's west wing served as the Thurston County Courthouse between 1892-1905. Willis Ritchie designed a new east wing for the state legislature's use, which was dedicated on 01/11/1905. The legislature met here between 1905-1927. The building accommodated most state agencies through 1919. In 1928, the new Capitol buildings were completed, and the legislative branch moved out of this one-time courthouse.

Building Notes

Architect Willis Ritchie (1864-1931) created a Richardsonian Romanesque design, cladding his courthouse in rusticated Chuckanut Stone, brought from Whatcom County. A 150-story tower, octagonal in shape, had clocks on each of its eight faces.


In the 1930s, the building was altered, and in 1949, it was reinforced. The octagonal tower was removed.


PCAD id: 9264