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Samuel G. Ward Jr.

1883 - 1958

Often forgotten in the mainstream history books of Olympia, Samuel Green Ward Jr. holds a distinct place in the history of the architectural aesthetic of Olympia.  He is credited with bringing the Craftsman style to Olympia. Ward was the son of one of the early pioneering families in Thurston County.  His dad, Samuel G. Ward Sr., had come to the Pacific Northwest in 1862 via Illinois, eventually settling in Tumwater.  A miller by training, Ward Sr. was elected to the territorial legislature and later the Olympia city council.

Samuel G. Ward Jr. was born in the Olympia on December 16, 1883 and attended local schools. After high school he worked for the Olympia Building & Manufacturing Co., one of the regions largest millwork manufacturers.  Reportedly after his dad passed away in 1904, he left the city for a five-year period to study (at an unknown location), but returned to the community around 1909. Then in January 1910 at the age of 26, Ward opened his own independent architectural firm in Olympia.  During this time he was the only architect who advertising in the local newspaper. Olympia’s better known architect, Joseph Wohleb, came a year later and began marketing himself alongside Ward in April of 1911.

Advertisement - Morning Olympian, Nov 30, 1910

Ward’s residential projects include a duplex for George Filley (1910); the Guy Winstanley House (1910); the M.D. Owings House (1910); the Robert Yantis House (1910); a home for theater owner Fred Zeliff (1910); the B. Hill House (1910); the Robert Yantis House (1911); the D.C. Bates House (1911); and the David Parrott House (1911) all in Olympia. Outside of the city, he designed a large summer home for Thomas Bordeaux (1911) in his self-named lumber town, Bordeaux; and a home for the Mrs. Alice Rich House (1911) in West Seattle.

Ward was also very active on the commercial side and designed a significant number of structures in the downtown core of Olympia, which to this day provide the community with a distinct look. The stucco exteriors and scalloped parapets can be found at the two-story poured concrete Lemon Block (1910), the largest building in downtown Olympia at the time of construction; the Brenner Building (1910); the Knights of Pythias Hall (1911); and the Bolster & Barnes Store (1911).  He also provided designs for the Masonic Temple (1911 with Tacoma architect George Gove); completed a remodel of the Acme Theater (1911); designed a platform for President Taft visit to Olympia in 1911; and the Farmer’s Co-Operative Creamery (1912).

Seeking larger commission he associated himself with the prominent architectural firm of Potter & Merrill of Tacoma around 1911.  Together they proposed a design for a new Olympia City Hall (1911); and a design for the Temple of Justice (1911) on the Capital Campus.  Unfortunately, neither of these proposals were chosen.  Independently he submitted a design idea for a large hotel (1912) in downtown Olympia and submitted proposal for a new Chamber of Commerce Building (1912).

Advertisement - Polk Directory 1911-12Ward’s career in Olympia was prolific but short-lived.  He moved to Tacoma after an illness in summer of 1912 and by 1913 he had become a manager for the Far West Clay Co. (1913-14) in Seattle.  He then became a salesman for W.E. Company (1915) also in Seattle but newspaper records indicate that by the late teens he had moved to the Portland, Oregon area, serving as a supply manager for the Western Electric Company.  By 1930 he had returned to Seattle, this time working as a draftsman at an undisclosed company. Census records note that Ward had moved to Bellingham by 1940, where he served as a manager of a local millwork company.

Ward passed away in Spokane on July 12, 1958 at the age of 74.  At the time he was living with his son, Lt. Col. Samuel G. Ward Jr./III (Deputy Commander of the 84th fighter group at Geiger Air Force Base), at Fort George Wright.

By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - January 2016


Polk Directory – Thurston County, 1911-12

 Houser, Michael "Beyond Wholeb: Olympia's Other Architects" PowerPoint Preserntation - May 2014. Portion of presentation showing Ward's work.

“Banner Year in Prospect For Residence Building, Brenner’s $10,000 Home” Olympia Daily Recorder, March 15, 1910.

“Sam Ward Preparing Plans For Seattle Home” Olympia Daily Recorder, June 19, 1910. 

“Samuel G. Ward Passes Away” Morning Olympian, Sept 3, 1904. 

“New Lemon Block To Be City’s Biggest” Olympia Daily Recorder, June 30, 1910. 

“Mrs. M.D. Ownings To Build Fine Bungalow” Olympia Daily Recorder, August 27, 1910.

 “A City of Artistic Homes” Morning Olympian, October 30, 1910. 

"Attractive Designs For New City Hall – Third Street Best Adapted” Olympia Record, January 30, 1911 

“Best Site For New City Hall” Olympia Record, January 31, 1911.

“City Hall Site Deed Accepted” Morning Olympian, January 31, 1911.

 “Samuel G. Ward” Olympia Record, February 20, 1911.

“Work On Hall To Begin Soon” Morning Olympian, February 24, 1911.

“Ground Broken For New $30,000 Masonic Temple And Work To Be Rushed” Olympia Record, February 16, 1911.

“Temple Is Under Way” Morning Olympian, February 17, 1911.

“Outlook for Banner Year in Building” Olympia Daily Recorder, February 20, 1911.

“Plans for K.P. Hall and City Building” Olympia Daily Recorder, March 11, 1911.

“1911 Olympia’s Banner Construction Year with Nearly $1,000,000 Costs” Olympia Daily Recorder, April 1, 1911

“K.P. To Issue $11,000 Of Building Bonds” Olympia Daily Recorder, April 25, 1911.

“Samuel G. Ward Is Ring Master” Morning Olympian, May 6, 1911. 

“Local Architect to Submit Plans For Capitol Building” Morning Olympian, May 12, 1911.

“Franchise Is Put Over Once More” Morning Olympian, May 25, 1911.

“Acme Theater is Being Remodeled” Morning Olympian, June 1, 1911. 

“Theaters: What The Press Agents Say” Morning Olympian, June 10, 1911.

 “Bordeaux Home Now Under Way” Morning Olympian, June 15, 1911.

“Thomas Bordeaux Building Fine Home” Olympia Daily Recorder, June 15, 1911.

“Heavy Acme Canopy Falls With Cash” Olympia Daily Recorder, June 19, 1911.

“Plans For New K.P. Building Completed” Olympia Daily Recorder, July 6, 1911.

“Bolster And Barnes Plan Cement Block” Olympia Daily Recorder, July 11, 1911.

“Parrot Let Contract For New Bungalow” Olympia Daily Recorder, July 11, 1911.

“Bolster & Barnes To Call Bids On Store Building” Olympia Daily Recorder, July 21, 1911.

“Bolster & Barnes Decided To Build” Morning Olympian, July 21, 1911.

“To Act on K.P. Bids This Afternoon” Olympia Daily Recorder, August 11, 1912.

“Passing Of Another Pioneer Building, First Harness Shop” Olympia DailyRecord, August 12, 1911.

“Drawing Plans For Platform For Taft” Olympia Daily Recorder, October 3, 1911. 

“Four City Hall Plans Submitted: Sam Ward Hands in Lowest Bid $17,245” Olympia Record, October 12, 1911. 

 “Adopt City Hall Plans Of Heath and Gove To Cost $18,000” Olympia Daily Recorder, October 13, 1911. 

“To Dedicate K-P Building Dec 26-27-28” Morning Olympian, November 21, 1911.

 “Creamery Building Contract Awarded” Olympia Daily Recorder, March 20, 1912.

“Scheel Would Help Build Local Hotel” Olympia Daily Recorder, April 11, 1912.

“Chamber Considering Building Project” Olympia Daily Recorder, April 23, 1912.

“A letter from Sam G. Ward received….” Morning Olympian, May 28, 1912.

“Sam Ward Recovers: To Remove To Seattle” Morning Olympian, June 20, 1912.

“Mr. and Mrs. Sam G. Ward after visiting with friends…” Morning Olympian, June 20, 1912.

“Supply Division Moves” Oregonian, October 8, 1922.

Obituary “Sarah D. Ward” Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 27, 1954.

Obituary “Samuel G. Ward” Spokane Daily Chronicle, July 14, 1958.