Raising up a house and driving 14 blocks to a new location is no easy task. Perhaps that is why the Egbert Ingham house, though an architectural and historical gem of Olympia history, had been slated for a wrecking ball visit instead of being saved. However, fate had other plans, and one sunny July day in 1979, the Egbert Ingham house in Olympia ventured to its new location on a path that was both seemingly perilous and yet a grand ushering forth.

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Egbert Ingham House on the Olympia Capital Campus Record

Joseph Seltzer had the house built for his daughter Dana Seltzer Egbert as a wedding present. Dana’s husband, Curtis Egbert, bought land at 14th Avenue at Columbia Street in 1912 from George and June Mottman. Construction costs for the 1913 build totaled $6,000, and the Egberts moved into their 5,000-square-foot, 3-story, Colonial Revival the following year.

The Egbert house had many notable visitors.Dana Egbert is reported to have hosted volunteer events and entertained WWI soldiers. More than one story circulated that First Lady Lou Hoover, president of the Girls Scouts, stayed with Egbert.

During the 1920s, the Egberts had a prime view of the new state capitol construction. A 1927 aerial photo shows the home just east of the Capitol Campus. In 1927, the Egbert house was also unique as the first house in Olympia that had continuous cabinetry, a garbage disposal and dishwasher.

aerial photo of Olympia in 1927
Just east, southeast of the Washington State Capitol Campus, the second home in-line and to the right of the wooded patch, identifiable by the dormers (three to the north facing side and two to the south) is the Egbert Ingham House. Photo courtesy: Washington State Archives

The Egbert’s daughter, Mary, and Olympic gold medal rower, John White, got married in the living room. Members from White’s University of Washington Olympic crew, whose story was captured in the book “Boys in the Boat,” also attended the 1940 ceremony. After her mother Dana passed away in 1947, Mary sold the home to Doctor Reed Ingham.

Multiple Olympia Houses Moved from Original Locations

Houses were relocated to either save and preserve their character or repurpose a perfectly good structure. The 1920, Dutch Colonial Allen House, previously near Union Avenue and Columbia Street, was moved in the 1950s. Neighbor to the Allen House, the 1928 Tudor revival Partlow House, was also moved. Both the Allen and Partlow houses were moved to the Carlyon neighborhood where they were reunited as next-door neighbors. The 1907 Craftsman-style Redpath House, once on the southern edge of Sylvester Park, was moved to the South Capitol National Historic District.

Once home to Governor Dan Evans and family, and the wedding location of University of Washington Olympic rower John White, the Egbert Ingham House also underwent a monumental relocation. Photo courtesy: David Goularte

The Egbert Ingham House was worth saving too.

“Number one, it’s an excellent example of Colonial Revival architecture, which is not that prevalent in Olympia,” says David Goularte, owner of the Egbert Ingham House. “There are two other houses similar to it in Olympia by different architects. The second thing is that it has been visited by many prominent people over the years. The partner in the firm that built the capitol rented the attic as his drafting office because from the Palladian window at the end, he could watch the whole capitol going up. The capitol went up between 1917 and 1928, so he had a bird’s-eye view of the whole thing when the Egberts were living there in the 1920s.” 

Moving day in July of 1979. The Egbert Ingham House was towed south for 14 blocks on Capital Boulevard on a trip planned to span 4- to 8-hours. Photo courtesy: David Goularte

The Inghams sold the house to the state of Washington in 1971. From there, newspapers tracked revolving sales, uses and plans. The City of Yelm purchased it for $1 to use as a community center, but the cost of raising utility poles, clearing a path to Yelm, did not prove feasible. During early 1970s renovations to the governor’s mansion, Governor Dan Evans and his family moved into the Egbert Ingham house. Next, it became state offices for architects.

The Day Olympia Drivers Saw a House Pass over the Interstate

A Capitol Campus expansion project sealed the deal for either removal or demolition. Saving the Egbert Ingham House, real estate investors purchased it and prepped it for a move. The front porch was taken off and stored in the living room, and steel rods were slotted through the fireplace walls.

Leaving its basement behind, it rolled southbound on Capital Boulevard on a 4- to 8-hour trip for 14 blocks. Together, the house and tow truck were too heavy for the bridge, so a winch was set up to eek the house across to where it could continue its journey by truck to Adams Street where its new owners settled it to a foundation and connected the utilities.

Crossing I-5 by way of a winching system, the Egbert Ingham House had to cross the Capital Boulevard bridge virtually alone as added weight from a towing truck was too heavy. Photo courtesy: David Goularte

Renovations Preserve Olympia Home and History

David and Ruthann Goularte bought the house in 1989. An interior designer and historical interior preservationist, David established a home office and placed his drafting table on the third floor just like the capitol architect did.

Renovations made for the governor and family updated the home but left many original features untouched. Leaded glass around front door and the built-in sideboard in the dining room are still present. The Goulartes removed siding that hid upper sunroom windows, restored fireplace tile marred in the move and amended other elements to the period. Photographs left anonymously on the front porch filled in some of the home’s history. Goularte did keep one single, old-fashioned light switch in the main hall.

The Egbert Ingham House is on the Olympia Heritage Register and remains as another volume of Olympia history. Now, lovingly preserved, it continues to have its story told and has been featured in several print publications.

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