Steilacoom Historical Museum Association
The Wagon Shop Built by Nathaniel Orr
The original “wagon and blacksmith” shop was located inside the Nathaniel Orr home. Nathaniel lived as a bachelor on the second floor of the home and operated a carpentry and wagon shop with horse powered lathes on the first floor.
Nathaniel Orr’s trade was wagon maker/wheelwright but he also constructed pioneer necessities such as bed frames, tables, chairs, washing machines, spinning wheels, quilting and rug-making frames and coffins. Marriage required some physical change in the house, so the shop was modified to a home and an attached shed/shop was built on the southwest side of the Orr Home. For a time that addition was the location of the shop, but 8 children required further change, and in the late 1870’s the Wagon Shop was built as a separate building on the Orr Property facing Main Street.
The Wagon Shop was reconstructed in 1992 but the location, design and exterior/interior walls were restored true to style and appearance of the original shop. The building was used for small events and eventually for storage of SHMA artifacts. In 2004 SHMA members Russ Cable and George Phillips volunteered to further restore the Shop to look and function as a 1880-‘90s working shop. The building now contains 40 wood-working tools used by Nathaniel. He marked the tools with "NH ORR", enabling the restorers to confirm these as the tools he used in the shop. The Wagon Shop also displays a buggy, a sleigh, and a farm buggy/cart. Many other tools, wood-working devices, forge tools, farm tools, and other items are on display.
Still a work in progress, the building is now open during Town of Steilacoom special events, on special request, or by the SHMA docents during normal museum hours.
To take a 360 degree virtual tour of the Wagon Shop, go to the following link: