Bigelow House Museum: A Portal to Olympia’s Past


Nestled in the picturesque city of Olympia, Washington, the Bigelow House Museum stands as one of the oldest and most significant residential buildings in the area. This museum, rich in history and character, offers visitors a unique glimpse into the lives of early settlers in the Pacific Northwest.

Historical Significance

The Bigelow House, built in the 1850s by pioneer lawyer Daniel R. Bigelow and his wife Ann Elizabeth, is a testament to the region’s early history. The house has been preserved to reflect the Bigelows’ commitment to social justice and public service, as they were influential figures in the anti-slavery movement and champions of women’s suffrage.

Architectural Features

The house is a prime example of the Carpenter Gothic style, characterized by its steep gables, pointed arches, and decorative wooden trim. The architecture reflects the aesthetic and cultural influences of the time, making it a valuable piece of Olympia’s architectural heritage.

Preservation and Restoration

Over the years, the Bigelow House has undergone careful restoration to preserve its original structure and appearance. Efforts have been made to maintain the authenticity of the building, using period-appropriate materials and techniques to ensure that visitors get a true sense of the house’s historical ambiance.

Exhibits and Collections

The museum houses an array of artifacts and furnishings original to the Bigelow family, including:

  • Furniture: Period furniture that dates back to the mid-19th century, offering insights into the domestic life of that era.
  • Photographs and Documents: A collection of historical photographs, letters, and documents providing a personal perspective on the Bigelows and their role in the community.
  • Cultural Artifacts: Items that showcase the cultural and social dynamics of Olympia during the mid-1800s.

Educational Programs and Tours

The Bigelow House Museum offers guided tours, providing detailed narratives of the house’s history, the Bigelow family, and their impact on Olympia’s development. Educational programs are also offered to schools and groups, focusing on local history and the evolution of the community.

Community Engagement and Events

As an integral part of Olympia’s cultural landscape, the museum hosts various community events, including historical reenactments, lectures, and seasonal celebrations. These events serve to engage the public with the region’s rich history.

Conservation and Research

The museum plays a crucial role in historical research and conservation in Olympia. It serves as a resource for historians and researchers studying the Pacific Northwest’s past, offering access to archives and artifacts that provide valuable insights into the region’s history.


The Bigelow House Museum is more than just a historic home; it’s a living chronicle of Olympia’s past, offering a tangible connection to the city’s early days. It stands as a celebration of the region’s heritage, architectural beauty, and the pioneering spirit of the Bigelow family. A visit to this museum provides a unique and educational experience, immersing guests in the rich tapestry of Olympia’s history.

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