Women’s History Month Tours at the Governor’s Mansion

portrait of woman on stairs
Evelyn Langlie, Photo from Washington State Archives

March is Women’s History Month.  The Governor’s Mansion will be offering a special series of public tours with docents wearing period clothing and giving presentations about various “First Ladies” of the state’s history. Below is the information from the Department of Enterprise Services.

OLYMPIA — Meet some of Washington’s First Ladies and one Governor on “special first-person tours” of the Washington state Governor’s Mansion on Wednesdays March 6, at 2 and 2:20 p.m.; March 13, at 1 and 1:20 p.m.; and March 27, at 2 and 2:20 p.m.

The tours, part of Women’s History Month in March, will feature Governor’s Mansion Foundation docents dressed “in character.” They will share historical moments about the people and events of the Mansion throughout its 110-year history.

From the early years of the Mansion through the dramatic events of two wars and the history-making tenure of the state’s first woman governor, Dixy Lee Ray, visitors will learn and enjoy important history through this personal and unique trip through the Mansion. The First Ladies spotlighted on the 40-minute tour will include Lizzie Hay, Alma Lister, Margaret Martin, Evelyn Langlie, Mabel Wallgren, Lois Spellman and Nancy Evans.

“It is important to point out that current First Lady, Trudi Inslee, has helped the Foundation make these tours possible,” said Dawna Donohue, vice president and chair of the Mansion Tours. “Her support and cooperation have been priceless to help the Foundation continue its mission.”


Reservations MUST be made at least 24-hours in advance (reservations are on a first-come, first served basis so schedule early). To make a reservation go to https://apps.des.wa.gov/Mansion/Mansion.aspx.”

For questions or additional information, please contact the State Capitol Tour Office at 360.902.8880.

Governor’s Mansion tours are available every Wednesday (except holidays and the month of August).  All tours are made possible by the Governor’s Mansion Foundation.

Tour information

Adult tour guests must present photo identification and all visitors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. No cameras, umbrellas, strollers, or food/drink will be allowed on the tour. The Mansion is accessible to wheelchairs and walkers. Visitors must walk a 200-yard incline up to the entrance.

Visitors to the Georgian-style mansion, situated on a bluff overlooking Capitol Lake, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, will get a 45- minute walking tour of the Mansion. The circa-1908 Mansion is the oldest building on Olympia’s Capitol Campus.

Visitors will get guided tours of the Mansion’s permanent collection of antique furnishings and Northwest artwork, including the renowned wall-size murals of Washington scenes in the state dining room.

Governor’s Mansion Foundation

The Governor’s Mansion Foundation, an all-volunteer, non-profit, non-partisan organization, hosts weekly tours of the Mansion on most Wednesdays (except holidays and the month of August).

To learn more on becoming a “Friend of the Mansion”, or for more information on the GMF, visit www.wagovmansion.org.

For the love of words….

Tess Gallagher

Tess Gallagher born in Port Angeles Washington in 1943 found her voice through poems, essays, and short stories. She studied creative writing at the University of Washington. Gallagher wrote extensively throughout her life, encouraged by her husband Raymond Carver. Her honors include a fellowship at the Guggenheim Foundation, two National Endowment for the Arts awards, the Maxine Cushing Gray Endowed Libraries Visiting Writers Fellowship, and the Elliston Award. Tess continues to teach, write, and speak publically. She published two collections of love poems dedicated to her late husband, and an essay titled Instead of Dying. From Willingly “This is ownership, you think, arriving in the heady afterlife of paint smell. A deep opening goes on in you. Some paint has dropped onto your shoulder as though light concealed an unsuspected weight. You think it has fallen through you. You think you have agreed to this, what has been done with your life, willingly.”

Contributed by: Amee Bahr

Working Nine to Five…

Alice Lord

Alice Lord arrived in Seattle in 1892, quickly taking a “pink collar” job, working 12-hour days for a weekly wage of between $5 and $6. In 1900, Alice became an instrumental figure in founding the Waitresses’ Union, Local 240, one of the few women’s unions with a national charter in the American Federation of Labor. Despite opposition from local police and business owners, the Waitresses’ Union led the coalition to pass an 8 hour workday, and the 6 day workweek in 1911. Lord continued to be an outspoken advocate for fair wages. Her work had an impact. In 1913, Washington state enacted the $10 per week minimum wage for women. Although she advocated for “working women,” Lord had a defined view of married women and women of ethnic descent barring Asian and African American waitresses’ from union membership. Lord, a strong independent woman, reminds us that justice is most beneficial when everyone enjoys equality.

Contributed by Amee Bahr

Education for all…

Dorothy Hollingsworth

Dorothy Hollingsworth played a critical role in Seattle’s education system.  She was born in South Carolina in 1920, and moved to Seattle in 1946. Hollingworth worked in Seattle’s Central District as a social worker in the 1950s and 1960s. Dorothy became the first director of Seattle’s Public Schools’ Head Start program in 1965 and served as the first African-American woman on the Seattle School Board from 1975-1981. She continued to serve as the director of early childhood education and was a member of the Washington State Board of Education. In 1966, after protesting racial segregation in Seattle Public Schools, communities organized the Seattle school boycott of 1966 connecting local issues to the national struggle for racial justice. Hollingsworth served her community by standing up for quality education for all children regardless of race, gender, or economic background.

Contributed by Amee Bahr

Fly me to the moon…

Bonnie Jeanne Dunbar

Bonnie Jeanne Dunbar was born the small eastern Washington city of in Sunnyside, but decided that the stars were the limit. Dunbar became a NASA astronaut in 1981. She spent 50 days in space. She flew on five space flights—on three of which she served as mission specialist and as Payload Commander on the other two. Her work included evaluating bone strength and fracture toughness in space. After she retired from NASA, she served as the CEO of Seattle’s led the University of Houston’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center, and taught aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University. She currently serves as the school’s director of the Institute for Engineering and Education and Innovation (IEEI). Dunbar received several acknowledgements including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. In 2000, Dunbar became one of the five women honored by Women in Technology International.

Contributed by Amee Bahr

When you are born to dance….

Ann Reinking

Ann Reinking, born in Bellevue in 1949, performed with the English Royal Ballet at the age of twelve. Moving to New York at 17, she worked extensively as an actress, dancer, and choreographer. Ann starred on Broadway for most of her career including Chicago, Sweet Charity, All that Jazz, and Annie. In 1994, Reinking founded the Broadway Theater Project to connect students with seasoned theater professionals. In 2001, she won the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer and received an honorary doctorate from Florida State University. Even now, dance and theater fill Ann’s life. She continues to judge dance competitions for inner-city youth in New York City, choreographs Broadway productions, and sits on the advisory committee for the American Theatre Wing. Reinking’s dedication to raising awareness of Marfan syndrome comes from a personal connection and she works closely with the Marfan Foundation.

Contributed by: Amee Bahr

For the love of science…fiction

Octavia E. Butlet

All of us are born with a gift, sometimes life challenges make sharing those gifts difficult. Octavia E. Butler began writing at the age of 10, a shy, awkward, slightly dyslexic, African-American diving into the world of science fiction. Octavia’s style of writing focused on marginalized characters and communities often exposing the underside of humanity while giving hope for the future. Octavia received multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, and became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship. Butler once described herself as a “47-year-old writer who can remember being a 10-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an 80-year-old writer. I am also comfortably asocial—a hermit…. A pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive.”

Contributed by: Amee Bahr

When it is all about numbers…

Mary Layne Boas

Sometimes your calling in life takes you into the realm of math and physics. In 1938, Mary Layne Boas earned her bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree two years later in the field of mathematics from the University of Washington. In 1948, Boas earned a Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Boas taught physics and mathematics at Duke and DePaul universites. In 1966, she authored Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, an undergraduate textbook still used today. Boas married Ralph Boas Jr. and they had one child Harold P. Boas, both of whom were mathematicians. At the age of 88, she published the third edition of her textbook, and at 91, established a scholarship fund at the University of Washington to recognize outstanding academic achievements by female students.

Contributed by: Amee Bahr

The one and only…

Bertha Ethel Knight Landes

When most people hear the name “Bertha” and Seattle, they probably think of the giant drilling machine moving under the city’s underground. But there’s another Bertha that pre-dates the one tunneling beneath the city. Bertha Ethel Knight Landes sat on the Seattle City Council in 1922 and became council president in 1924. In 1926, she ran against “Doc” Brown and became Seattle’s first and only female mayor. During her tenure, she advocated for public ownership of utilities and railways, renovated the Seattle Opera House, and appointed professionals to help put the city through “municipal housekeeping”. Bertha Landes organized the Women’s Civic League, studied unemployment, and served as the president of Washington State’s League of Women Voters. She continually urged women to enter politics, their “natural sphere”.

Contributed by: Amee Bahr

Political spotlight…

Frances Axtell sitting at an office desk

In 1939, Julia Butler Hanson began serving the State of Washington as a legislator for the 18th district. She served on the Education Committee and the Roads and Bridges Committee. She championed school lunch programs, better teacher contract laws and retirement systems, promoted community colleges, and helped build I-5 and the state ferry system. While serving on the Elections and Privileges Committee she supported legislation to ensure equal participation by women on county and state party committees. In 1955, she narrowly lost the Speakership of the House and she was the first woman to serve on the House Appropriations Committee in 1967. She supported funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. In 1989, Julia posthumously received the Washington State Medal or Merit and was called “one of the greats. There’s no question about it. She was the epitome of dedication, toughness, and effectiveness in both the Legislature and Congress.”