Bigelow House in Olympia is a look back in time; a museum that captures a wealth of history about Washington from well before statehood. Bigelow House was originally built in the 1850's by Daniel Bigelow, who arrived in Olympia by way of the Oregon Trail, and it is the oldest residence in Olympia. Daniel established himself as a lawyer and territorial legislator, and his wife Ann Elizabeth taught school. Together they raised eight children in the Bigelow House, and ownership stayed in the family for well over one hundred years. The original Bigelow land claim was a narrow plot of 160 acres that started at Budd Inlet and ran clear up the eastside Olympia hill, and included an artesian spring for freshwater. Bigelow House still sits on over an acre of that original land claim acreage and the spring still flows out behind the house.
The style of the Bigelow House is Carpenter Gothic, and the museum is mainly furnished with furniture belonging to the many generations of Bigelow family residents. The furniture includes a massive desk that Daniel brought with him by covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. It was at this desk that Daniel drafted the constitution for the Washington Territory when it separated away from Oregon Territory.
Daniel's grandson - also named Daniel, and his wife Mary Ann Bigleow were the last generation of Bigelows to occupy the home, and they delighted in opening their home to the public and sharing the history within. I was lucky enough to know Mary Ann and attend a number of gatherings in the Bigelow House - and always marveled at the authentic detail that had been maintained through the years. Christmas time was especially exciting at the Bigelow House as Mary Ann decorated extensively, including an enormous Christmas tree which practically filled the "parlor".
Daniel and Mary Ann sold the Bigelow House in 1994 to the Bigelow House Preservation Association (BHPA) to ensure that it could be restored and maintained for future generations to visit & enjoy. Now operating as a museum, you can visit the Bigelow House on weekend afternoons between Memorial Day and Labor Day or year round by appointment. The entry hall exhibit and information center are free to visit, and tours are also offered for the minimal admission fee of $3 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under.
What a treasure Olympia's Bigelow House is - a look back in time at our history!