History of the Armory
The Olympia Armory, built in the late 1930s on the site of the first Washington School, is part of a long history of Army National Guard presence in Olympia. Guard members have served both nationally and in the state including in World War II, the Korean War, the Middle East and in state assignments. We thank them for their service.
The Armory has been central to Olympia’s community history as a well-used venue and gathering place for events such as basketball games, antique sales, pet shows, wrestling matches, car exhibitions, festivals and Inaugural Balls.
Designed by Olympia’s premier architect, Joseph Wohleb, in association with noted Tacoma architect Roland Borhek, the Armory has been a building “fitting for a capital city” during its long military and community service.
For more history about the building, visit Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum’s Where Are We? page and additional links here:
Present – the Storytelling Project
The Armory Storytelling Project has collected and will display documents, images, and videos that captured the rich experience of this iconic building. The project is sponsored by the Washington Military Department and Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum in partnership with:
Washington State Archives
Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
City of Olympia
City of Olympia Heritage Commission
Eastside Neighborhood Association
Washington National Guard Museum
Olympia Arts & Heritage Alliance
Olympia School District
Future of the Armory: a Creative Campus
Following the transfer of the Armory building to the City of Olympia, it is being transformed as a place for community building and economic development through the arts. For more information, visit: https://engage.olympiawa.gov/olympia-armory-building-creative-campus