From Armory to Arts Center

fountain pen and watercolor in 8 X 8″ Travelogue W/C sketchbook

A sunny day at last and it lured Jan and I out to attempt some on location sketching. Sunny but too cold for on the street sketching, so we sheltered in our respective cars for a cramped, but warmer experience!

I picked this spot at the Olympia Armory in town for its art deco era design and historical impact. It is in the process of transitioning from a military installation to a creative campus owned by the City of Olympia. 

This iconic Art Deco style building was constructed by noted architects Joseph Wohleb of Olympia and Roland Borhek of Tacoma in the late 1930s.  It has been an integral part of the community’s history and  the Army National Guard presence in Olympia. Guard members from the armory deployed to the Pacific Theater during World War II, and the Middle East during Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, while continuing to serve our state during countless disasters. The Armory has been used not only by the National Guard, but by the community as a venue and gathering place for events such as basketball games, car exhibitions, festivals, inaugural balls, and more.

As the army vehicles leave, the arts community is gearing up with ideas for using the quite generous space. The 41,160 square foot Armory building and adjacent 9,700 square foot outbuilding offer key spaces adaptable to a range of uses, including a 10,000 sf multi-use space, commercial kitchen, industrial loading dock and storage, and ample offices readily convertible to classrooms. 

For now I enjoy passing the building on my way into town. Maybe I’ll even have a space to teach again there! 

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