Building History

Welcome to the Home of the Steilacoom Tribe

Preserving History, Building the Future

Welcome to the online home of the Steilacoom Tribe! Where history comes alive and the future takes shape. Our Museum, housed in the iconic 1903 Oberlin Congregational Church building, stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Steilacoom Tribe. Along with our rich cultural heritage. Here we share the story of our People and the Town we call Home today: Steilacoom, WA.

A Glimpse into History: The 1903 Building

Step back in time with us as we explore the history of our beloved building, our Home. The Oberlin Congregational Church was founded in 1883, six years before Washington become a state. It is now known as the Steilacoom Community Church. In 1902 church members voted to erect a new facility. The old building was torn down and some of the lumber was used in construction of the building that stands here today. In 1961, the church moved and the building found a new purpose as a home for over two decades.

In 1987, the Steilacoom Indian Tribe acquired this historical gem. On May 13, 1989, we opened our doors, celebrating the State's Centennial with an exhibit on the pre-history of Washington State. The dedication reads, "In the memory of the Tribal Ancestors who walked here before us, to be shared for all time with those that follow."

Preserving Our Heritage: Challenges & Triumphs

Maintaining a historical building is no small feet. As a non-profit organization, we rely on fundraising and donations to sustain our Museum. In 2012 we undertook a significant renovation project, completing it in 2014. The front porch, once separating from the building, was restored. A wheelchair ramp was also added, granting access to our upstairs gallery.

Now as we embark on a new chapter, we continue to face the challenge of preserving our building's exterior. At a first glance it may appear that a quick fix would be to add a fresh coat of paint; unfortunately that is not the answer. We have painted the building multiple times only to have it immediately begin peeling again. We discovered in the process that the siding will need to be replaced, which is a much bigger project to complete! While repainting, and even replacing the siding, may seem like a simple task; the complexities of a historical site demands meticulous care and consideration. Our commitment to preserving our building's authenticity guides every decision that we make.

Looking Ahead: Building for Tomorrow

We are excited to share that another building project is in the works! With the support of the Town of Steilacoom, along with the dedicated volunteers on our Steilacoom Tribal Council, we are moving forward to ensure the longevity of our Museum. The Town helped us to procure a grant that will make this project possible. While we anticipate a temporary closure during construction, the end result will be a building with many beautiful restorations! This will only be phase one of this project, as we do not have the funds to complete the entire project at this time. However, we are excited for everything that is to come!

We understand there is much curiosity surrounding our building's appearance. We invite you to follow along on our journey. We will be sharing updates with you on the progress of our construction. We will share photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into this project. Your support means the world to us, and we can't wait to show you the transformation as it unfolds! Thank you for being part of our story. Together we are preserving the history and building a vibrant future for the Steilacoom Indian Tribe and the Town of Steilacoom, WA.

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