Washington Print Museum
Backstory and Context
William Henry Etter was born to Swiss immigrants on November 23, 1816, in York County, Pennsylvania. In 1839, William and his brother moved west to Washington, where they founded the second newspaper west of the Mississippi River (behind the Arkansas Gazette). When the Confederate State Government fled to Washington, the Telegraph was granted the state printing contract, and continued to print throughout the Civil War (save a brief period when the presses were moved to Rondo to avoid capture). Etter himself worked for the effort, and in 1865 was on a mission to Texas and Mexico to purchase supplies when he was arrested by federal troops in the last week of the war. While in prison, Etter contracted pneumonia and died at age 48. Etter’s family continued the printing business, with an Etter having a role in the Telegraph until its eventual shuttering in 1947 by William H. Etter IV.
This brick building was the town’s post office in the 1890s, but by the time the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation was formed in 1957, the building had been converted into a small tenement house. After purchasing it in the 1980s, Historic Washington State Park restored its original storefront frontage so the building could be used to house the park’s growing printing equipment collection.
The collection includes presses, drum presses, linotype machines, and even various typewriters. Demonstrations occur on a drum press, using a large collection of type and graphics. Print shop equipment is also used to make several items in the park, including various documents given to the public, tickets for certain events, and the paper sacks used in the Gift Shop. The museum is one of a few buildings scheduled for touring every day.