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100 years: Olga Community Center

July 19, 2013 · Updated 4:12 PM

The road up Mt. Constitution was originally near Olga. / Courtesy of Orcas Island Historical Museum

The Olga community is celebrating the Olga Community Center’s 100th birthday.

Originally the clubhouse was built in 1913 by the members of the Olga Energetic Club, a group of 12 women who wanted to have fun quilting, sewing together and doing good works for their community.

Sunday School, school programs, funerals and social gatherings all were held at the clubhouse. Smaller get-togethers, card parties and 4-H meetings were held in the downstairs rooms.

In 1995, the few remaining members of the Energetics presented the deed to the building to the Olga Community Club. It stands as one of the only remaining buildings from the early days of Olga.

Olga is a community rich in history. Ancient bison bones were found near Olga, which places human activity there some 125,000 years ago.  In the 1850s the Lummi Nation considered Olga to be part of their territory.

The first white settler in Olga arrived around 1859. This settler, William Moore, married a native woman, who was the niece of Chief Seattle. They settled on a homestead claim of 160 acres just north of the bay.  Within a year or so, John Bowman settled nearby and set up a sawmill at Cascade Creek, which was later moved to Newhall, now referred to as Rosario.

After the resolution of the Pig War in 1872, settlement proceeded at a greater pace.  Olga is named for the mother of Anton Ohlert, the first storekeeper and was granted a post office on March 3, 1890. Mailboat service was a huge factor in Olga’s growth and development.

Residents of Whatcom (now called Bellingham) began acquiring land here for summer cottages.

In the early days, the only road up Mt. Constitution was near Olga (see photo), and local men operated businesses giving tourists wagon rides to the top of the mountain.

Jane Barfoot-Hodde, the oldest Olga resident, was also born in 1913. It is only fitting that Jane's two daughters, Irene O'Neill and Fran MacMillan, were the founders of Olga Daze, a fundraiser for the community center.

Twenty years later, Olga Daze has blossomed into a full day of fun for everyone. It is this Saturday, July 20. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy a bake sale, lunch, barn sale, silent auction, quilt raffle, and parade (at noon) with grand marshal Barfoot-Hodde.

New this year is an Olga History booth with local historian Tom Welch and offerings for children (starting at 12:30) like cotton candy, a sack race, an egg toss, a three-legged race and a pie-eating contest (at 1:30 p.m.)

Thanks to Tom Welch and Irene O'Neill for sharing this historical information.


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