New paint job brightens historic Eagles Club building in Olympia

The historic Eagles Club building in Olympia has two new coats of paint — and a new first impression.

Last weekend, about 30 volunteers helped paint the lower facade of the three-story building at Fourth Avenue and Plum Street. All In One Painting took care of the upper floors, and will put some finishing touches on the building this weekend.

The building’s faded yellow exterior was replaced by gray paint with black trim along the bottom. Despite all the donations that poured in, the Eagles came up nearly $3,000 short of covering the job’s cost of about $9,100, club member Nicole Mercier said.

“We needed two coats of paint, but had only counted on one,” she said, noting that All In One will soon apply an anti-graffiti coating to the building. “We’re so worried now that someone will come by and see a new clean slate and start writing on it.”

More renovations are planned for the building, including the installation of new windows and bar stools next week. The building also needs a new rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, but money is an issue, Mercier said.

Founded in 1899, the club is officially the Olympia Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 21. The club raises money for South Sound organizations and national charities, notably for diabetes research. The current headquarters on Fourth Avenue opened in 1927, but has deteriorated over the years, and money for renovations is in short supply.

“Now we’re the organization that needs help,” Mercier said.

Club members hope the long overdue paint job sends a message to other community groups — namely, that the building is an asset for Olympia. Aside from a lounge, the building includes a ballroom, dance studio and thrift store.

“People have no idea what a jewel it is on the inside,” said Diana Fowler, a longtime member who was moved to tears at the building’s shiny new gray exterior. “We’ve neglected ourselves, and we need to keep healthy in order to have this venue.”

The club’s membership totals about 565, said LeAnne Hine, board of trustees chairwoman. She chatted with a passerby who complimented the new paint job Thursday morning.

“I would like to see the community coming together here,” Hine said. “This is a charity hub.”