Bethany Montgomery, Staff Writer
Olympia has no shortage of unique restaurants or edgy shops to be visited during free time for Saint Martin’s students who are looking to explore local culture. From within and outside the city limits, there are numerous historic landmarks and buildings that are worth making a stop at while wandering downtown. However, for explorers who want to relive memories or experiences of another era, a different approach must be taken. For anyone who appreciates the culture and history of past decades, there are a number of places within driving distance that can fulfill these dreams of nostalgia.
In the Olympia area, Old School Pizzeria is both an affordable and entertaining place to spend an afternoon or evening. This red leather seated pizzeria features 80s’ vibes, including graffiti lettering and a collage of posters of 80s’ bands, movies, and celebrities on the walls and tables. In addition to the 80s’ rock music, Old School also includes a small arcade and pinball machine in the back for both kids and adults to enjoy classic arcade games while eating New York-style pizza. Just a few blocks away from Old School is a record shop called Rainy Day Records. Rainy Day sells classic vinyl from 1940s to present, cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs, fulfilling music for fans of all decades.
Just a half hour south is the Centralia Grand Ballroom and Hotel, one of the oldest buildings in the city. Once an Elk’s Lodge when it opened in 1920, the hotel was bought and restored in 2013 to its former style and grandeur after nearly 30 years of its closure.
The owners have kept as much of the original elements as possible, stating on their website that they seek to “…find the perfect balance between maintaining the vintage charm and history of the building while adding essential modern amenities.”
Each of the rooms closely replicates the style of the period, including the original flooring, claw-footed bathtubs, and sinks. The hotel, which sits on top of the Centralia Antique Mall, is connected to a popular country café, a bar, and has a stunning ballroom available to guests and as a venue rental. This historic building will take visitors back in time to the 1920s and all the charm of that iconic decade.
Headed north on I-5 a few exits sits a hundred-year-old Gothic castle on the West Coast of the United States. Thornewood Castle (available as a Bed & Breakfast and for photo-shoots or events)was once the home of one of the Port of Tacoma’s founders, who spared no expense in its design, elaborate furnishings, and centuries old decorations. Though it has only been in the United States since 1907, Thornewood’s structure actually dates back 400 years before its move, as an Elizabethan manor built in England that was disassembled and rebuilt here in the States.
In addition to the large fireplaces, outside fountains, the website describes the suites as “…luxuriously appointed and elegantly decorated, filled with antiques and historical pieces.” Guests and visitors can experience the mid-19th century décor and grounds of this lovely house, offering a glimpse into another time.
While the surrounding area has a myriad of historical sights, few have the power to transport visitors to that time. Fortunately, within a reasonable distance are opportunities to take a break from the modern world, experience and appreciate history, and recognize the progress that modern society has made, all while enjoying a nostalgic past.