Walla Walla, WAThe Downtown Walla Walla Walking Tour is a delightful way to visit a sampling of the area's historic architecture and share in our rich history.
A good way to start is with a visit to the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation office at 33 East Main, Suite 213, or call 509-529-8755.
The tour begins at the Liberty Theatre (1917). It was known as the American Theatre until 1926 and marks the location of the original Steptoe's Fort (see the plaque at the entrance of the building). The Liberty stopped being used as a theater in the early 1980s. In 1991, the exterior was restored to its original appearance, while the inside was remodeled to become a part of The Bon Marché department store.
Turn west and you'll find Die Brücke (The Bridge Building), with its inscription visible above the main entrance. Completed in 1903 by Max Baumeister, the building "bridges" Mill Creek as it flows through the downtown area.
Just across First Street is the Sayer Building. It was built in 1890 by William Sayer. For more than 70 years, from 1905 to 1977, the structure was occupied by the Bee Hive, a popular dry goods store. In fact, it's still called the Bee Hive Building by long-time residents.
Continue west on Main Street to the center of the block (between First and Second Streets) to the Seil Building. It was one of the first brick structures completed after the fire of 1885.
Falkenberg's Jewelers, a longtime Walla Walla business, is now in the Reynolds-Day Building (1874), one of the oldest buildings still standing on Main Street. On the second floor, in a room known as Science Hall, early politicians held Washington's first State Constitutional Convention in 1878.
At the corner of Main and Second is the Paine Building (1879) with its striking geometric pattern. This was the home for many years of the First National Bank, established by Levy Ankeny in 1878.
The Baker Boyer Building (1910), known as Walla Walla's earliest "sky scraper," stands at the corner of Second and Main. This building replaced an earlier one that was the site of a banking business started by Dr. Dorsey Syng Baker and John F. Boyer in 1869. It was the beginning of the bank that today is still the oldest operating commercial bank in Washington State.
Looking south from this corner you can see the former First National Bank Building (1921), with its ornate Corinthian columns. And at the corner of Third & Main is the restored Baumeister Building.
On the southwest corner of Main & Fourth Streets is the Dacres Hotel (1899). It replaced the historic Stine House, which burned in 1892. The Dacres building is a prime example of Victorian Italiante architecture. Its facade changes from the friezeband and neo-Classic half-columns facing Main Street to the series of arched windows and corbeled brickwork on the Fourth Street facade. The Dacres is on the National Register of Historic Places.
On Main Street, between Fifth and Sixth Streets, is the Walla Walla County Government Complex. Facing Fifth Street, the Hall of Records (1891) is now used as the County Law Library. Adjacent to it is the County Courthouse, built in 1916. The statue of Christopher Columbus was a gift to the City of Walla Walla in 1911 by the Italian Community. The County Jail and Sheriff's Office building was built in 1906.
Information courtesy of Tourism Walla Walla.