HISTORY OF THE BALL
Territorial Governor, Isaac Stevens, was the first to be welcomed by a reception and a dinner to honor his arrival in Olympia in 1853. The event was held at the Gallagher Hotel in Olympia.
The first inaugural ball was held on November 18, 1889 to welcome the new governor, Elisha P. Ferry. Miles C. Moore, who served as Territorial Governor before statehood in 1889, commented “We are assembled here today to celebrate this event, the most important in the history of Washington, and to put into motion the wheels of the new State Government…Let us not forget in this hour of rejoicing the responsibility that comes with autonomy…” The ball was held at the Odd Fellows Hall.
The Olympia Hotel’s grand ballroom was the scene of the inaugural ball in 1897, in honor of Populist Governor John R. Rogers, who insisted that the party be open to all Washington citizens. Governor Rogers refused to wear a silk hat and ride in a shiny carriage. Rogers second inaugural ball, held in 1901, was described by the Morning Olympian as “the greatest social event in the history of the capital city.”
In 1913 Governor Ernest Lister attended his inaugural ball at the newly opened Temple of Justice. There were three bands on each floor.
Over the years, the balls have been held at various locations, including Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater. During the 1930s the balls were held at the American Legion Hall. From the 1940s through the 1960s the Olympia Armory served as a location. For the next 20 years, the balls were held at the Tyee Motor Inn, St. Martins Capital Pavilion, and Westwater Inn.