Builder Of Potential Governor’s
Mansion Overly Optimistic
A note from history…
The residents of Ellensburg, Washington, were so sure in 1880 that their centrally located city would be the capital of Washington that they built a governor’s mansion there.
The building was a 3-story structure, with the most up-to-date features available at the time. There was a spiral staircase, brick chimneys and the best heating, lighting and plumbing known.
Tragedy struck Ellensburg in 1889 when a big fire swept the city, and at the same time, the decision was made to make Olympia the state capital. The potential governor’s mansion escaped the fire but it didn’t have an occupant. The builders were left with a huge dwelling of grandeur on their hands. There was no one wealthy enough in the area to want to buy such a mansion.
When the mortgage came due on April 1, 1892, a sheriff’s sale was ordered. Nathan Cushing bought the property for $4,300. He died soon after the purchase, leaving the property to heirs in the East. They had no interest whatsoever in what was considered to be a white elephant and the building began to decay. Instead of governors, it was inhabited by owls and bats.
In 1904, the 15-year-old building was sold for $800. The new owner sold it again the same day for $950. This owner made a few repairs and restored some of the building to a habitable condition. In 1914, it was converted to an apartment house and, as far as is known, no governors ever lived there.
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