Celebrating 150 Years of Building Prosperity

Celebrating 150 Years of Building Prosperity

Thurston Chamber 150th AnniversaryJoin us in celebrating our 150-year anniversary! Achieving this milestone is a testament to Thurston Chamber leaders, past, current, and present. We look forward to sharing key moments in Chamber history that shaped our community into the extraordinary place that we all live, work, and play!

The seed of the Chamber got its start in 1874, when a group of visionaries came together to form the Board of Trade with a mission to turn our county into a powerhouse of business prosperity. The leadership and efforts of this inaugural board launched what we know today as the Thurston Chamber of Commerce.

And like its founders, the Chamber remains steadfast in its commitment to uphold the objectives set forth in its first articles of incorporation. These objectives? To foster, protect, and encourage commercial, mercantile, and other public interests; to procure, preserve, and disseminate valuable statistics and information for the greater good of our community.

At 150 years old, the role of the Thurston Chamber is woven into the very fabric of our communities. The commitment of its members, leadership and the community-at-large serves as the catalyst from which the Chamber continues to innovate, grow and build business prosperity.

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Save The Date

150th Anniversary Events

Annual Meeting

May 8, 2024

Community Celebration

July 11, 2024

Our History

Thurston Chamber’s 150-year history and its influence across the region is the result of individuals, partners and advocates who saw opportunity and gave of their time to serve as collaborators and catalysts in transforming our communities.

The following is a snapshot of memorable moments in Chamber history.

1874

Founded as the Board of Trade.

Photo Credit © Private Postcard collection, courtesy of Olympia Historical Society

1885

Intrepid Board of Trade/Chamber leadership led a multi-year (1885-1889) effort to ensure Olympia remained home to the state capitol. Efforts to relocate the capital to Vancouver, Eastern Washington and Seattle proved unsuccessful.

Photo Credit © Old State Capitol Building purchased in 1902 by the State

Late 1890’s

Became the Olympia Commercial Club.

Photo Credit © Private Postcard collection, courtesy of Olympia Historical Society.

1905

Became the Olympia Chamber of Commerce, the first Chamber in Washington State.

Photo Credit © Private Postcard collection, courtesy of Olympia Historical Society

1920

Spearheaded fundraising for the Hotel Olympian.

Photo Credit © Susan Parish Photograph Collections, Washington State Archives

1922 - 1924

The Chamber actively led the campaign for the port district. Members held an option on tidelands north of the fill which were later deeded to the Port for a 50 percent equity. The Port District of Olympia was formed in November 1922 by countywide vote.

Photo Credit © Photo courtesy of Port of Olympia

1924

Joined the lobbying efforts to fight the attempted name change of Mount Rainier to Mount Tacoma.

Photo Credit © Wikimedia Commons

1932

Since statehood, the Olympia Chamber of Commerce had hosted the Governor’s Inaugural Ball every four years. The Chamber adopted a plan to broaden the scope of dance committee members to include representatives from the City of Olympia.

Photo - 1949 Inaugural Ball Invitation

Photo Credit © eBay My Vintage Collectables

1937

Supported and created funding for Deschutes Waterway improvement plan, now Capitol Lake.

Photo Credit © Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives – State library photo collection

1940s

Chamber members joined the war effort early, focusing on hospitality for their military neighbors to the north, including housing, engagement, and entertainment.

Photo Credit © Vibert Jeffers Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

1950s

Led the charge in making the capital city a more attractive place to visit by developing tourist attractions and proposed tourism center.

Photo Credit © Merle Junk Photograph, Susan Parish Collection, Washington State Archives

1960s

Chamber expanded its collaboration and leadership across Thurston County. Investing in higher education, infrastructure, economic development, and tourism.

  • Sowed the seeds of Intercity Transit.
  • Helped raise funds for The Evergreen State College and Saint Martin’s (Norman Worthington Center) Pavilion.
  • Supported Capital Lakefair, including providing office space and the build of the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Facilitated infrastructure projects such as paving Henderson Blvd.

Photo Credit © Courtesy of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation

1962

Recognizing the importance of strong ties with their military neighbors, the Chamber introduced Foofaraw. An annual event that for 74 years, as a show of appreciation.

1980s

A decade of growth, the Chamber was a catalyst for the community.

  • Supported construction of a second hospital to serve Thurston County.
  • Created the Economic Development Council.
  • Backed the City of Olympia recommendation to change the Percival Creek’s shoreline designation, clearing way to build the West Olympia Bridge.
  • Pursued an ambitious campaign for the County, to designate Olympia as site of the United States Olympic Academy.

Photo - Vintage Postcard Olympia Brewing Company Aerial View Olympia, Washington 1980

Photo Credit © eBay DexterDewingsEmporium

1990s

Formed the Thurston County Chamber Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, to focus on three pillars: youth education, community leadership and small business development.

  • Leadership Thurston County
  • Small Business Incubator
  • Diversity in Business
  • Business2Youth Connect
  • Thurston Thrives

Photo Credit © Courtesy of Leadership Thurston County

2000s

The Thurston County Chamber. Advocacy. Workforce Development. Business Vitality.

  • Changed name to Thurston County Chamber.
  • Became second largest Chamber in Washington State by membership #s.

Photo Credit © Courtesy of Leadership Thurston County