We live in one of the most gorgeous counties in the state. The numerous lakes, the rivers that change with glacial runoff, our mountains – all of the natural beauty gives us not only excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation, but these scenic backdrops make for great family photographs as well. [more…]
Posts Tagged With: Centralia
It seems everyone is brewing something at home these days. Beer, wine, kombucha even hard cider is making a comeback. The first question you may ask is, “Why brew your own when your store-bought choices are endless?” Centralia native, Chris Rohr, owner of Flood Valley Homebrew was just like you, asking himself the same question. [read more on LewisTalk.com]
In your travels, have you ever noticed that the really good food is in the restaurant where you think you would least expect it? However, you don’t always have to travel to experience the great little joints – don’t overlook the ones in your hometown. Shanghai Cafe in Centralia, Washington is one of those places.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It barely looks like a restaurant. It’s very small, non-descript and whenever we tell folks what to look for, it’s the big butterfly on their sign. When you walk in, it still looks small, but cozy not cramped. The Asian décor is fun, but looks dated. It should be – it opened in 1929! However, don’t let any of this deter you – have a seat and enjoy the feast to come!
They will start you out with a mild tea while you are looking over the menu and of course, they have other beverages available. On the table underneath a plastic cover, is the Chinese Zodiak calendar. I always enjoy looking at it, picking out myself, kids and grandkids.
David always does the ordering for us. He has been going there for years and introduced me awhile back – I have difficulties eating certain food and have to be careful, so luckily he knows what I can eat, and which of the foods won’t give me problems. It always sounds like he only order 3-4 dishes, but when the food starts coming out, it seems endless! First the Egg Drop Soup arrives, then the Kimchi, then Sweet and Sour Pork. Just as we finish that, out comes the Special Garlic Chicken, Orange Chicken and on and on.
We can never eat it all! But that doesn’t break anyone’s heart, the leftovers are even better after they’ve soaked in the juices overnight. But I always leave room for the Fortune Cookies, of course. And here’s an unusual idea for you – Chardonnay wine and fortune cookies taste amazing together!
Shanghai is a family-run business (the current owners are only the second owners) and they always remember you and what you like to order. You don’t get that kind of warm, personal service most places.
Our motto when traveling is “always check out the local restaurants.” So don’t forget those in your own town – who knows what you might be missing!
Shanghai Cafe is located at 519 South Tower in Centralia.
When asked how he started in the coffee roasting business, Justin Page, owner of Santa Lucia Cafe located in downtown Centralia, Washington, looked at us for a moment, then quietly said, “Coffee is a journey.” His journey began when he was about 12 or 13 years old. His father was “in the coffee culture” in Seattle, and Justin has been passionate about coffee ever since.
He began roasting his own coffee in 2002 in the basement of his Centralia home. He expanded to roasting from family, friends, and neighbors. Then he placed a kiosk on the front porch of his house and people would put their money into his mail slot. After a few years (and one visit from the Centralia Fire Department because of all the smoke coming out of his basement), Justin ran out of room and decided to open Santa Lucia Café in his current location in 2006.
Santa Lucia is the namesake for Justin’s wife, Lucy. The setting is rustic, with three rooms with tables comfortable chairs, and even books to sit and read with children. It’s cozy enough for small conversations as well as small work meetings. Local pastries from San Francisco Bakery in Olympia, Market Street Bakery in Chehalis, and Main Street Cookies in Rainier, are temptingly displayed.
Justin tells us that he gets beans from all over the world, but most specifically from a small farmer, Edwin Martinez, in Guatemala. Huge 150 pound bags can be seen sitting near the walls. One coffee roaster is placed in the third room. There Justin roasts about 200-300 pounds of coffee each week. We were surprised to hear it only takes about 15 minutes to roast a batch of coffee. He doesn’t have a set schedule, just roasts as needed as they run low on coffee, so it’s very fresh.
We asked about the “flavors” and how he achieves them because we truly had no idea. It turns out coffee is a bit like wine, that flavors are not added, but come naturally from the areas where the beans are grown. Then he decides which flavors he likes, what his “interpretation” of them is and then roasts them to bring out the flavors he likes best. This is done by varying the length of time of roasting as well as temperature.
David asked if he would like to see his product on big store shelves. Justin thought for a moment and said no, he actually preferred that people find him on their own based on the quality of his coffees.
As Josh is in high school and learning a lot about future careers, he had his own question: What would Justin tell a high school student thinking about opening a coffee roasting business. Justin replied that he would ask a lot of questions, why do they want to do this, how passionate are they – he would challenge them and ask deeper questions rather than just say, “Yes, do it” or “No, don’t do it.”
When asked where he thought his business would be in five years, Justin said that this is an individual journey for him and he expects to stay small and still be in the same place. The best part of this business for him is the personal touch, being part of the community and the friends that he has made. He feels that it is now at a point that it is a self-propelling entity and that is a very exciting point to be for an entrepreneur. He would only like to grow larger though, if it didn’t take away from the personal aspect that he enjoys so much now.
Santa Lucia coffees can also be found served at local establishments such as Centralia College and Jeremy’s Farm to Table restaurant.
Santa Lucia Café is open Monday through Friday, 7am-5pm, Saturdays 8am-3pm and Sundays, 9am-3pm and is located at 202 S. Tower Ave., Centralia WA 98531. They can also be found online at http://www.luciacoffee.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/santaluciacoffee.
Every year during the second weekend in July is the annual STP (Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic). Ten thousand riders start their trip in Seattle on Saturday morning. Some ride clear to Portland in one day, but most stop about halfway and finish the trip on Sunday.
Centralia is the halfway point. During this weekend the population and number of bicycles on the road explodes. For years I have always avoided leaving the house on this weekend in order to avoid the chaos, because years ago when I went to town it was very real chaos. It was stressful to drive through town and worry about grazing a rider.
But this year I decided to check it out. I went to Centralia College (where David and I work) about 10:30, not expecting much to be happening yet. Boy, was I wrong! Riders were coming in steadily and had been for a couple of hours. The college puts a lot of effort into welcoming the riders and providing all sorts of resources for them, encouraging them to camp on the grounds, eat, get a massage, and enjoy the beer garden. It has the energy and atmosphere of a fair!
Starting on the east end of campus was a blow-up arch, welcoming riders coming onto campus with people cheering them on and congratulating them on making it half way. As they proceed west down the “Aadland Esplanade” more people are cheering them, directing them to service, water, food, and handing out ice cream.
There is a designated area for riders completing in one day. Food and port-a-potties are available for them. The rest of the site has vendors such as REI, bicycle parts folks, water and repair stations. There is a bicycle corral for riders to store their bikes in safety. This corral is overseen by the Centralia Police reserves.
The beer garden opened at 11:00 but I didn’t see anyone using it at that time. I assumed it would be much busier later in the evening. (Yes, it was – they apparently went through 20 kegs!)
One special booth that I had to visit was a dedication to a co-worker and friend, Jeanette Speigelberg,. She was the manager of the Children’s Lab School (day care) on campus. In June of this year, she passed away unexpectedly while training for the STP. Her friends and staff wanted to honor her by having a booth at the event. The college earns money for scholarships by hosting riders on campus, and Jeanette’s friends have started a scholarship in her name.
As I left campus, I intended to skirt the main roads in order to avoid the chaos I remembered from years ago. However, much has changed and I was very impressed! The road heading over the viaduct and leading south of town towards Chehalis is a two-lane one-way street. Orange cones blocked off the entire right-hand lane almost all the way into Chehalis. Instead of getting away from the riders, I decided to follow along in the other lane, knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about driving close to the riders. I finally turned off to head home, while the riders continued on south.
I see now why everyone gets so excited about the STP. It was the same energy and atmosphere as graduation day. In a sense, I imagine that it is like graduation day for those that have trained for so many months to prepare for this day – and they made it!
If you would like to be involved in the STP but don’t want to actually ride it, come on down to Centralia College next July and show your support by cheering on and welcoming the riders! Everyone really can be involved!
In 1855-56, Washington State had what was known as the “Indian Wars”. In response to concerns about possible attacks, two very small forts were built in Southwest Washington. Erected around the same time period, they both ultimately served very different purposes.
First is Fort Henness, which was located on Grand Mound Prairie in Rochester, Washington. There is nothing left of it now except for a marker and map of the fort. It’s a beautiful area, flat, with views all around. The fort was built in 1855 and stayed in use for about 16 months until 1856. It was actually quite large considering the one-building Fort Borst described later. It contained two block houses, a school, barracks, and living quarters. At one time 30 families lived there. Fortunately, the fort was never attacked and families returned to their homes.
A few miles south in the town of Centralia sits the Fort Borst Blockhouse. Unlike Fort Henness, there was just one building and it is still standing. It was also built by volunteers around the same time as Fort Henness, at the junction of the Chehalis and Skookumchuck Rivers. It was also erected in case it was needed for protection from Indian attacks. However, the only thing it ever had to do with Indians was to hold grain that was bought from the Indians in the area. It was originally built without windows and only one door. Later, after the concerns for war passed, Joseph Borst bought the blockhouse and it was used a few times for his family to live in while their home was being built. That’s when the windows and second door were added.
As with Fort Henness, there was never an Indian attack on Fort Borst and relationships with Indians in the area settled down. The blockhouse is currently located in Borst Park in Centralia. There are plans to move it back nearer the Borst Home where it was originally located, a site that allowed settlers the same advantage that Fort Henness did – views to watch for attackers.
Next time you’re in Southwest Washington, take a quick stop in Centralia at Borst Park and you can just walk right up to the blockhouse. You’ll appreciate the sturdiness and the quality of the craftsmanship – after all it has survived for over 150 years! Then make a quick 15 minute drive out to Rochester and stand at the site where Fort Henness stood – you’ll understand why the site was chosen when you look around and can see what would have been unobstructed views back then.
It is a relief that these structures were never needed for their original purpose, but they are still an interesting piece of history in the area.
Getting there: Fort Borst Park in Centralia – From I-5, take exit 82 and head west. Before the first traffic light you’ll see there’s a turning lane to turn south in front of the Safeway gas station. Take that turn and go one block and you’ll see the entrance to Borst Park in front of you. Head on in and you’ll see the blockhouse off to your left in the park.
Fort Henness: Located across the intersection on 183rd Ave. and Apricot Street. The least confusing way to get there is take exit 88, heading east towards Tenino. Turn left on Loganberry Street and go north until you reach 183rd, then turn left again. Head back west over the freeway and go about a mile and a half. You’ll see Grand Mound Cemetery on your left and the field with Fort Henness marker on your right.
As soon as you see it in its quaint little corner spot you are drawn to it. It truly looks like an old-time soda fountain but Holley’s Place is a yogurt shop. The bright colors of the goodies showing through the window along with the outside décor are unique. The south wall is the side of a larger building and holds several of Centralia’s famous murals. The storefront is right next to the old Fox Theater which is being restored and the new marquee sign that was just placed above it draws attention to not only the theater but the yogurt store.
Holley’s Place was opened two years ago by Holley Kaiser and her husband, Jamie. They simply decided that they wanted to start a business for their whole family to take part in, and there were no frozen yogurts stores in the area. When they were shown the space they were a little nervous. It had plaster falling off the walls and old cast-iron pipes. But they saw the potential and spent several months painstakingly fixing it up. They went to garage sales and estate sales and gathered up leftover items to sell themselves. After 14 garage sales they finally had enough money to buy the two ice cream machines.
Inside it is quite small (about 235 square feet). There is just one counter with five stools. If they look like originals from an ice cream shop it’s because they are. Holley and Jamie picked them up from an old ice cream shop in Seattle. Silver tin adorns the ceiling in more antique-style décor.
The counter is not an old-time laminate or metal though – it’s a beautiful misty-blue-green glass that seemed destined for the store when it was offered to Holly and her husband for free from their church.
But rather than be served by Holly, you get to decide how much and what kind of yogurt you want. There are two self-serve machines. This day one contained peanut butter and chocolate yogurt, and one contained sugar-free vanilla and sherbet. Holley likes to offer sugar-free and dairy choices for those who can’t process them.
You choose the cup size you want, fill it with however much of whichever flavor of yogurt you want. Then you head over to all the goodies to make more choices. There are syrups, pieces of brownies, gummy bears, marshmallows, Fruity Pebbles, Reese’s Pieces, Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, nuts, fruit and more. If you can’t find something you like here, it would be unbelievable.
When you are finished with your selections, you set your bowl on the scales and pay for it by the weight. Then you dig in and enjoy your own amazing creation!
Holley is excited to be part of the revitalization of downtown Centralia. She says that in 1999 there were 21 taverns along the main part of town and that has tremendously changed. Owners of all the businesses in the downtown core are helping each other out, advertising each other, handing out fliers and gift cards. Even though her shop is small, she plans on staying there in her terrific location. Not only is she next to the Fox Theater, Holley’s Place serves as the concessionaire for it when movies are shown.
Holley has two favorite things about running Holley’s Place – that it is a business that her whole family can be involved in, and getting to know people in the community as well as welcoming visitors to downtown Centralia. It truly does feel like you are coming into her house and being welcomed, just as she wants it to be.
Holley’s Place is open seven days a week except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and her and Jamie’s anniversary (April 10). Hours are Noon-8pm weekdays, Noon-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It is located on the corner of Centralia College Blvd. and Tower St. at 119 S. Tower in downtown Centralia.
Getting there: From I-5 take exit 81 and head east. Just keep following it, it will turn into Cherry St. Go to Tower St. and turn left. Continue north on Tower St. to Centralia College Blvd. Holley’s Place will be on your left on the northwest corner.
November 11, 1919. When I first moved to the Centralia, Washington area in 1985 I heard whisperings of something that happened on this date. But details were sparse. I was told people still didn’t talk about it and that I shouldn’t ask about it. There were still local citizens who were very bitter and angry over what happened that day.
Finally, as time wore on, people wanted both sides of the story told:
On November 11, 1919 an Armistice Day parade was held in Centralia. Marching in the parade were many WWI veterans and members of the American Legion and they didn’t particularly like the “Wobblies” as they were called. These were members of a union called the Industrial Workers of the World and they were demonized quite severely in many areas of society, as they were seen as leading America toward a communist state. Across the country they had experienced their meeting halls and members attacked.
Elmer Smith, the local lawyer for the Wobblies, told them they had the right to defend their property. They took it to mean that they could be fully armed and ready for conflict so they placed several of their men around town in strategic areas.
What happened next is still unclear and controversial. Some say the Wobblies fired the first shot killing the first man. Others say the Legionnaires in the parade rushed the hall. Shots were fired killing three Legionnaires and wounding three. Wobblies were rounded up, arrested and taken to jail. Westley Everest was identified as the man who fired the first shot. He was captured by a vigilante mob and taken to the town jail where he was nearly hanged before the parade marshall talked them out of it.
Later that day, a large group of men gathered and were sworn in as deputies to round up anyone even suspected of being an IWW member. As they went around town arresting men, someone cut the lights. Seizing the opportunity, vigilantes broke into the jail and dragged Everest out of the jail. He got loose and headed towards the Chehalis River but couldn’t cross it because it was flowing too swiftly. The vigilantes caught up to him and dragged him to the bridge over the Chehalis River and hanged him, where his body stayed until the next day.
The vigilantes intended to kidnap other men out of the jail but luckily were talked out of it long enough for the National Guard to arrive and restore order in the town. In the end, eight men were arrested and charged, later being freed. But the bitter feelings remained for decades in this little town where everyone knows everyone else and the facts were debated on both sides.
A statue was later erected in Washington Park to the Legionnaires who died that day. Then in 1999 a group commissioned artist/activist Mike Alewitz to paint a mural reflecting the Wobbly side of the story. It is located in the old Elks lodge, now an antique store and restaurant, right across the street from the park. The mural is called “The Resurrection of Westley Everest.” Its main feature is a man portrayed to be Everest with his arms raised. However, here are a lot of other symbols present in the mural which are not obvious. It took a lot of research to finally find one article that told what the symbols mean. In an article by Mary L. Stough, Librarian, she says:
“Everest is the focal figure of the mural. He is drawn symbolically with his arms raised triumphantly, dressed half worker in overalls and half veteran in a World War I uniform. Black cats are shown as the Wobbly symbol of defiance; a pig representing the profiteers of war is leaning on bags of gold. Angels on the top of the mural are hanging from a long saw-the “misery whip” of the loggers-and below that is a pie denoting “pie in the sky,” the happiness that workers could look forward to when they died.
In the far left of the mural stands a man in dark glasses holding a labor newspaper, the Industrial Worker. The man is Tom Lassiter, a partially blind Wobbly sympathizer who sold labor papers at his newsstand. After he was threatened, kidnapped and his papers were destroyed, Lassiter was warned never to set foot in Centralia again.
Across the bottom of the picture flames lick up, consuming workers who are shown as prisoners. As grim as this scene is, the artist is not without a sense of humor. A small volcano emitting a plume of smoke and sporting a pair of glasses was Alewitz’s thank-you to the mural committee’s co-chair, Helen Lee, director of the Evergreen State College Labor Center. He called it Mount Helen Lee!”
Times have changed and as memories fade and older citizens pass on, the pain and bitterness are healing. The story is still rarely talked about, but probably more because it is fading into town memory. And that’s OK, because sometimes it’s just time to move on while learning from a shameful history that helped shaped the town to be the quaint little place that it is today.
Did you know that the small town of Centralia, Washington was founded by George Washington? No, not that George Washington, but the son of a slave.
Born in Virginia in 1817 to an African-American father and white mother, George was taken in by a couple named Cochran after his father was sold and his mother gave him up. In 1850 they all moved out to Oregon, then north in 1852 to what would later become Washington. However, in 1852, blacks could not own land so Washington had the Cochran’s file a claim for 640 acres (the size of property a person could get under the Donation Land Claim Act). Later, when Washington became a territory and did not bar black’s from owning land, the Cochran’s turned Washington’s land over to him.
George met and married Mary, who was also African-American and white. In 1875 they filed a plat to create the town of “Centerville” when they realized that the railroad would be coming right through the area. But they did so much more than just that. They donated land for a church and a cemetery. They enabled the town to grow, thanks to the Washington’s generosity in selling parcels of land for reasonable prices, and even on payments when necessary. Later on, during financial hard times, they helped set up resources to provide for needy townspeople and buying back land to keep it from foreclosure.
The easiest place to see the continued legacy of George and Mary’s generous donations is the square block surrounded by Pearl, Centralia College Boulevard, Main, and Silver Streets. This is the land they donated for a town square. It is now known as George Washington Park and holds the Carnegie Library, along with a gazebo, and a war memorial. The townspeople enjoy summer nights in the park, listening to “Music in the Park” performed under the shade of several huge trees. This is also where you’ll see the town Christmas Tree lighting up the night all during December.
The town was renamed to Centralia in 1883 because people thought the name was too easy to confuse with many other towns named Centerville.
George Washington died on August 26, 1905. This beloved man had one of the largest funerals ever held in the town and he is now buried in Washington Lawn Cemetery, the cemetery that he provided land for. The large mural of him is painted on the side of the Key Bank building. Key Bank’s address is 201 W. Main Street but the mural is on the side facing Pearl Street. Stop by and take a look at the picture of George along with his dog in front of the door to his house. Then walk on across Main Street to George Washington Park and just stand there for a minute, thinking about how it must have been to be there over 135 years ago planning to begin an entire town. The guts and vision that it took were nothing short of amazing.
Nice job, George, nice job indeed. Thank you.