History and architecture come alive in Walla Walla, particularly along Main Street, composed of buildings not so much restored as polished to their original fine luster. Plaques commemorating contributions to state history abound. Main Street is built along the ancient Nez Perce Trail. Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens convened the First Walla Walla Council here in 1855, in which millions of acres of land were taken from Indian tribes in exchange for reservation life. A year later, Colonel Edward Steptoe built Fort Walla Walla. As a supply hub for the Idaho gold rush, the city boomed and soon was the largest in the territory. In 1878, territorial legislators convened here to draft a state constitution, but the U.S. Congress applied the brakes, rejecting statehood for another 11 years.
While the provenance of the Main Street panorama is unknown, its date lies between 1910 and 1917. The seven-story Baker-Boyer Building from 1910 exists at the far right, while the American Theatre (see its peaked twin roofs at left in the repeat), completed in 1917, had yet to crack its first tin of greasepaint. Colonel Steptoe built his fort where the theater now stands. —JS