This view of the 1909 Memorial Day parade marching south on Tower Avenue in Centralia is the earliest image we have of the Olympic Club. The street is dirt and the hotel that has stood next to the Club since 1913, is still four years from construction in this photo. Here, the north bay of the Club houses shelves of liquor. A year or so later, the Olympic Club café would take over the space.
The Olympic Club is seen here in its original incarnation and location. It opened in 1907 on Main Street, just around the corner from today's Club on Tower Avenue. A 1908 fire, that destroyed many buildings on east side of Tower between Main and Pine streets, prompted the Oly Club's move.
Storm clouds still linger after soaking Tower Avenue, around 1906. The view is to the north. Main Street intersects just beyond the first telephone pole. The Olympic Club's predecessor stands on the right just beyond Main Street. The building, along with all of its neighbors on that side of the block, were destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1908.
The calling card for The Oxford, which operated in 1906-07 on the future site of the Olympic Club. The Nugent brothers ran their raucous saloon with few rules, and were closed down because of that practice. The name was revived though by what is today's Olympic Club Hotel. Prior to McMenamins' renovation of that building, it was known as the Oxford Hotel.
Early denizens of the Oly Club, circa 1910. The cook stands outside the café, while the houseboys stand in front of the central "Billiards" door. Note the bar sign hanging on the right. In about three years, the Club would undergo a major interior renovation, complete with mahogany paneling, beveled glass mirrors and Tiffany light fixtures.
On the nation's first Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, violence erupted in Centralia arising from the community's volatile relations with the resident members of the radical labor organization, the Industrial Workers of the World (aka The Wobblies). The resulting six deaths, including one lynching, of several recently returned servicemen sent shock waves around the world. One prominent gathering place for the Wobblies during this period was the Olympic Club (its proprietors supported their cause and welcomed their patronage). This rare image shows the memorial procession through Centralia on November 14, honoring the veterans killed three days earlier.
Saloon man extraordinaire, Jack Scuitto, stand behind the bar of his newly, and extravagantly, remodeled Olympic Club, 1913.
The reason for the Olympic Club's grand 1913 remodel was the appearance earlier in that year of this man and his lavishly appointed New Tourist Bar immediately next door. In this 1913 photo, A. J. Forgues stands in front of his newly opened venture, which occupied the south storefront of the just completed hotel, today's Olympic Club Hotel.
What has captured their attention? Well-dressed men assemble outside the Olympic Club, circa 1914. Are they waiting for a parade or horse race? The Hotel Crawford next door is today's Olympic Club Hotel. The New Tourist Bar still occupies its southern storefront.
A. J. Forgues, whose New Tourist Bar had earlier occupied the southern storefront of this hotel, took over management of the hotel around 1916. He converted the bar, closed by state Prohibition, into the hotel's lobby. Forgues' young son can be seen in the open, second-story window.
A. J. Forgues, proprietor of the New Tourist Bar, sits in his buggy outside his business, circa 1915. Within months, Washington State's ban of alcohol forced the closure of Forgue's business. He rebounded by taking over management of the hotel.
This 1916 article was the first of many headlines chronicling the bootlegging activities of the Olympic Club during the Dry Years.
This 1916 arrest warrant was likely the first served upon Jack Scuitto and his Olympic Club for suspected bootlegging activity, but definitely not the last.
John L. "Jack" Sciutto knew the ropes. He had been a barman in British Columbia during the Klondike gold rush and ran a brisk, rough-and-ready saloon business in the coal-mining town of Rosalia, Washington, before coming to Centralia in 1907. His success allowed him admittance into Centralia's elite, however, his loyalties, not to mention his bread-and-butter, remained with his blue-collar customers.
A. J. Forgues, manager of the Hotel Oxford, now the Olympic Club Hotel, mans the desk in the hotel's lobby, accompanied by his young son. This same room had earlier been Forgue's New Tourist Bar until Prohibition forced it to close.
Hotel Oxford manager, A. J. Forgues, stands with his daughter outside the hotel, circa 1920. She was born in the hotel in 1916.
The headline from this June 17, 1921 Seattle paper screams out the news of the capture of the notorious train bandit, Roy Gardner, at the Olympic Club Hotel.
The Olympic Club Café offered much like what a logger of that era could expect from his camp dining hall: nothing fancy, but good, hearty food. Today, a larger commercial kitchen for the Olympic Club occupies much of this space. The great back bar seen in this shot, now graces the Backstage Bar at McMenamins Bagdad Theater in Portland.
Louis Sonney, the Centralia Cop who captured Roy Gardner in the Olympic Club Hotel in 1921, quickly realized he had much better and more interesting prospects in re-telling the details of the bandit's capture to audiences then remaining in law enforcement. So, Louis hung up his badge and began road-showing around the country. This newspaper clipping from around 1922 features the former cop with his car on which he was marking his route from one state to the next.
After capturing Roy Gardner, Louis Sonney went from road-showing to filmmaking as a way to tell the story of the capture. Sonney went on to be a very successful producer in Hollywood. This movie poster, from about 1923, advertises one of the first silent pictures made about Gardner and Sonney. The theater was in Kelso, Washington, not far from Castle Rock and Centralia, where the exploits of 1921 had taken place.
By the time of Roy Gardner's capture in Centralia, the train bandit was front-page news all around the country. He had developed a Robin Hood-like appeal. This illustration, which ran in the San Francisco Bulletin, depicts the arrest of Gardner in the Olympic Club Hotel.
Roy Gardner arrived in Centralia in mid June 1921, he came across wanted posters like this one, prompting to create a disguise comprised of bandages on his face and hands.
Louis the Cop, around 1921. Louis Sonney was a coal miner holding the record for most coal mined in an 8-hour period, when he was recruited by the Centralia police department to put on a badge and help clean up the town.