Tucked into a corner of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor is an exhibit of early office equipment and furniture that would have been used in the Capitol shortly after its completion in 1928. Visitors can examine such up-to-date equipment as a Number 5 Standard Underwood typewriter and Remler Intercom System which allowed for interoffice communication. The operating Pierce Wire Recorder with foot pedal is the forerunner of modern dictation and recording equipment. Also on display are a desk telephone, General Electric fan, and faux-wood Remington Rand file cabinet, and other office supplies typical of the early 1930s.
The desk was manufactured by John W. Graham and Company of Spokane. It is made of white oak and mahogany woods and was part of the initial furniture order placed by Wilder and White, the architects of the Capitol Group buildings. The oak swivel chair and coat stand are also original furnishings. Even the waste paper basket is an authentic Capitol piece.
Although individual legislators did not have private offices or personal staff, but worked from their desks in the House and Senate chambers, committees did employ some staff to help with the work of the Legislature. Members counted on help from a “pool” of stenographers who could take dictation and type letters. Each member was furnished with one hundred first-class stamps for each session, giving some indication of the expected level of correspondence. Rare telephone calls were routed through a central switchboard which would deliver messages; return calls were the responsibility of the legislator. Secretaries were paid $100 to $125 per month in the era depicted in this display and were expected to have a wide variety of skills. However, they were only employed during session, from January to March, every two years. Extraordinary sessions were unusual and brief in duration.
This display is provided courtesy of the Capitol Furnishings Preservation Committee to showcase the variety of furniture and artifacts that help tell the story of our Capitol Buildings. We would like to thank the Department of Enterprise Services, the Washington State Senate, the Washington State House of Representatives and the Office of Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen for their generous support. We also thank Walt Sonnenstuhl of Olympia, Bigelow Office Supply of Olympia, the Tacoma Telephone Pioneer Museum and the Washington State Supreme Court for their contributions of historic artifacts for this display.