In early 1889 Ellensburg was in the final running, along with Yakima and Olympia, to become the capital of the soon-to-be State of Washington. Attorney John B. Davidson wanted to erect a grandiose building to help in that effort and show off the modern and sophisticated nature of the territory’s centrally located town.
Construction of the building was well underway when disaster struck. On July 4th, 1889 a giant fire burned a significant portion of Ellensburg to the ground. The fire was fueled by the Kittitas Valley wind and the timber construction of many of the buildings. By the time the fire reached brick structures, like the Davidson Building, it was burning so hot they were also leveled.
Undaunted, the city and Davidson immediately began to rebuild, and the finished Davidson Building was completed later that year. The phoenix sculpture on the building’s peak on the right side in the photo symbolizes Ellensburg’s rise from the ashes. Today the Davidson Building remains one of the town’s most recognizable and beautiful structures.
Ellensburg lost out on its bid to become the state capital, due at least in part to the great fire, though it is still the county seat.
Posted for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with the topic of commercial and industrial buildings.