If all goes as planned, The Evergreen State College could take over management of the Lord Mansion in Olympia’s South Capitol neighborhood later this year.
The building, which for decades housed the State Capital Museum, is owned by the state and managed by the Washington State Historical Society. It has been mostly vacant since the museum closed in 2014.
The historical society had been looking to lease the Lord Mansion, possibly as office space, before Evergreen expressed interest.
The change would require lawmakers’ approval. Supplemental budget proposals unveiled in the House and Senate this past week both included language directing the historical society to transfer the mansion to Evergreen by July 1.
A spokesman for the college declined to comment on Evergreen’s plans for the building until the transfer is complete.
“We’re very flattered to be considered and excited about the potential opportunity,” said Zach Powers, Evergreen’s communications and public relations manager.
This would be Evergreen’s first building in Olympia outside the college’s west-side campus, Powers said.
The State Capital Museum closed for repairs in 2014 and never reopened. Its collection had dwindled over the years since the mansion didn’t meet temperature and humidity standards required of accredited museums.
“That very quickly limited (our) uses of that building,” said Jennifer Kilmer, the historical society’s director.
Museum hours also were cut because of state budget cuts; it had just 2,500 visitors during its last year of operation.
The Spanish Colonial-style home and matching coach house were built in 1923 for Clarence and Elizabeth Lord. Clarence Lord founded Capital National Bank and served as Olympia’s mayor in 1902 and 1903.
After he died in 1937, the Lord family donated the property to the state for public use.
The State Capital Museum opened there in 1942 and later merged with the Washington State Historical Society. The museum’s exhibits were primarily focused on the history of Olympia becoming the state capital.