Capitol Campus Press House oral history airs on TVW

Long-time Northwest Network Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins moderates the discussion and trip down memory lane

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An aerial photo of two Capitol Press Houses: Ayer House, also known as the White House, and Carlyon House.
OLYMPIA – Current and former press corps members discuss how media coverage of Washington state government has evolved during a panel discussion about the Capitol Campus press houses, airing on TVW Thursday, Sept. 8, at 8 p.m.

The discussion, Historic Washington: Capitol Press Houses, provides an oral history of the Carlyon and Ayer Houses that were occupied by members of the Capitol Press Corps between the early 1980s and 2021. The Capitol Press Corps moved into new space in the Legislative Building earlier this year.

Long-time Northwest Network Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins moderates the discussion and trip down memory lane. Panel members are:

  • David Postman, former Seattle Times chief political reporter and Gov. Jay Inslee chief of staff who now serves as the Liquor and Cannabis Board Chair
  • David Ammons, former long-time Associated Press (AP) political writer and columnist, former president of the Capitol Correspondents Association, host of TVW’s Inside Olympia, communications director for the Secretary of State, and chair of the Public Disclosure Commission
  • Rachel La Corte, long-time AP correspondent and president of the Capitol Correspondents Association since 2012
  • Melissa Santos, former statehouse reporter for the News Tribune of Tacoma and Crosscut

“Serving as an AP Olympia-based political journalist for 37 years was an honor and privilege,” says David Ammons. “The Press Houses were jammed with reporters until the economics and industry took a tumble. Toward the end, the houses deteriorated, and I joked that both the buildings and the occupants were condemned!”

David Postman adds: “It was a great place to work and a great time to be a statehouse reporter. It really was the good old days. It just wouldn’t have been the same if we weren’t all crammed into those two old, raggedy houses.”

The press houses will be removed as part of Legislative Campus Modernization (LCM) to accommodate a rebuilt Irving R. Newhouse Building. The building at 215 Sid Snyder Ave. on the West Capitol Campus has significant health and life safety hazards and must be replaced. LCM will also renovate the Joel M. Pritchard and John L. O’Brien Buildings, and make other improvements to the Capitol Campus.

The Washington State Department of Archeology (DAHP) and Historic Preservation generated the idea for the oral history project, which was implemented by DES.

Dr. Allyson Brooks, State Historic Preservation Officer/Director for DAHP says, “Campus modernization required the loss of the historic press houses. In order to honor their legacy, we developed an oral history project that reached out to journalists who worked in those buildings. We thought it important to capture their experiences covering the work of the legislature during the days of print media and beyond."