Friday, September 28, 2018

Starbucks Grange Opens Its Doors in Tumwater

Above: Sue and Jim Bert are greeted by friends as they walk into the new Starbucks at the former Chambers Prairie Grange  No. 191 at 1301 Yelm Highway in Tumwater Thursday morning.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A whole new generation of hugs, handshakes, and smiles once again filled the 108 year old former Chambers Prairie Grange in Tumwater on Thursday.

It almost looked like a scene from the old days, except for those taking selfies with the spacious interior from the exposed roof beams to the wooden floor. 

Now hung high on the wall, the original Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191 sign was a favorite image.

Now owned by Tom and Tiffany Schrader, the space is leased to Starbucks and became a new gathering place as customers came from all four directions to the corner of Henderson Boulevard and Yelm Highway, starting at 4:30 a.m. 

The former grange, once located in an agricultural area, is at the physical crossroads of Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard and the cities of Tumwater and Olympia.

It was a moving experience for some. Members of the Wickie family were among the first who came in early to check out the new space, said Ashley Buller, the new Starbucks store manager. 

According to the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191 was organized in 1906 by Fred W. Lewis and reorganized in March, 1908. 

Grange members built the hall through donated work on land donated by the Wickie Family, completing the structure in 1910.

The Chambers Prairie Grange was one of the first in Thurston County.

Above: Aubree Fudge, Bev Eagen, and Jackie Barratt, aquatics staff for the Briggs YMCA, were thrilled to walk across the street to the new Starbucks and get some drinks for themselves and other staff members.

Business was steady throughout the day. 

Families with young children streamed through while one young man camped out with his laptop and a pile of books about anatomy. Another man watched Judge Brett Kavanaugh being grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee on his phone. 

After greeting friends, Sue and Jim Bert positioned themselves at a corner table to admire the scene. They’ve lived in Tumwater for 15 years and described themselves as loyal Starbucks customers.

“I’ve found a new home,” Sue Bert laughed.

Her friend Joan Olson, of Olympia, walked in to greet them. Olson has lived in the area for 39 years and walked over from her residence in Olympia on Yelm Highway.

Staff and members of the Briggs YWCA also walked in from across the street on Yelm Highway.

Bev Eagen, Briggs YMCA aquatics coordinator, audibly exclaimed, “It’s crazy! I love how open it is!”

Kate and Bob Hill walked across the street from Silver Leaf, an active living facility for those 55 years “and better,” on Henderson Boulevard in Olympia, where they have lived for three years. 

“I love it! We’ve been watching it progress for so long. I love how they kept the integrity of the actual grange,” she said.

Above: Starbucks staff member Kendall Crawford offered samples of pumpkin spice lattes and scones at their new location inside the former Chambers Prairie Grange on opening day Thursday.

In the afternoon, Little Hollywood joined the Schraders, who were cuddling at the long table in the back of the building. Exhausted but soaking in the ambiance, they watched customers as they came in.  

A potted plant with a handwritten card saying, “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” sat in front of them, signed by a family living nearby.

Tom Schrader had stayed up late Wednesday night helping put the final touches on everything to open Thursday morning. He did not attempt to make the 4:30 a.m. opening, but his wife Tiffany did.

“I was their first customer at 4:30 a.m. and eight seconds,” she laughed. The prized cup with the time stamp and her name on it now sits at home on the mantle.

Customers came over to congratulate the Schraders, including one woman with her children in tow. As a resident of the adjacent subdivision, The Farm, she had expressed concerns about the project, but was happy with the end result. 

The Schraders used literally dozens of local contractors for all facets of the former grange’s transformation. They played tag team, quickly naming as many businesses as they could remember on the spot:

“Great Western Supply, Valley Supply on Mottman Road for steel supplies, Venables Pest Management, Reliable Electric, Adam Laneer Construction for roofing and soffit work, Capital Gutter, Paul Berschauer for the HVAC system, Bracy and Thomas Surveyors, South Sound Bank for financing the project, Sharp Trucking, Bayview Lumber, H.D. Fowler, Puget Sound Landscaping, Extreme Excavation, Puget Plants, Nature Perfect, Al’s Welding, Zeigler’s Welding, Propel Concrete, Erik Ainsworth, a land developer and structural engineer, Lacey Door, Paul Jensen for finish work, Kell-Chuck Glass, and Mike Anderson for siding and trim,” they said.

“All the trim is original, but Mike added new siding on the backside of the building where it was needed, and was able to replicate the old trim. It’s amazing how close it was. You wouldn't know the difference,” Tom Schrader added.

“The only time we went out of Olympia is if we couldn’t find someone to do a job on our timeline, said Tiffany Schrader, a third generation South Sound resident. It’s easy to name all the companies, but I just have to add that we couldn’t have done it without all the individuals - the neighbors, our friends, and church members who poured their lives into this project.” 

It sounded like an old-fashioned barn raising, showing that some things never change.

Above: The former Chambers Prairie Grange has been transformed into a Starbucks.

For more stories, photos and information about the transformation and history of the Chambers Prairie Grange, the building’s purchase by Tom and Tiffany Schrader in 2015, required property rezones, and negotiations between the City of Tumwater and Tom Schrader, go to Little Hollywood at and type key words into the search button.