Turn the clock 90 years to a time when some women were “flappers,” gin was made in bathtubs, good times were enjoyed by many and few foresaw the Depression just around the corner.
Beginning July 19, the Kirkman House Museum presents “The Roaring Twenties” - an exhibit that looks at how Walla Walla lived after the “War to End All Wars” and before the Crash of 1929.
The 1920’s brought momentous change to Walla Walla as its borders and businesses grew rapidly. Even as other Washington cities grew, Walla Walla continued to be an important Northwest center of agriculture and culture. Vegetable farming expanded as canneries were established. Washington women had been voting since 1910 and, in 1920, women throughout the US won this right. Jazz became a mainstream enthusiasm, even in Walla Walla. And at the end of the decade, the Walla Walla business community bankrolled the construction of one of the grandest hotels west of the Mississippi, the Marcus Whitman Hotel.
“Most people don’t know that Whitman College owned the Kirkman House during the Twenties,” said Carolyn Priest, exhibit curator, “and used it as a men’s dormitory. One of the student-residents was Walter Brattain. Brattain went on to win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956 for his contributions to the development of the transistor. And he used to study physics right here.”
“The Roaring Twenties” runs through October 27 and will be followed by “Hope in Hard Times,” an extraordinary presentation of life during the Depression produced by Humanities Washington.