Vintage display cases originally from a Hoquiam jewelry store were recently donated to the Polson Museum by Richard Mirau, a Lake Quinault area product who owned and operated a logging company and shake and shingle mill in Grays Harbor County before getting into the jewelry business in 1976.
“Mirau grew up in Lake Quinault and got his start in the jewelry business under the tutelage of Carl Kneipp, whose downtown Hoquiam store was a fixture on Simpson Avenue from the late-1930s through the mid-1980s,” said John Larson, Polson Museum Director. “Mirau acquired these six cases from Kneipp when he retired and closed the Hoquiam store, moving them between several jewelry and antique businesses in the Puget Sound region over the past four decades.”
Larson noted that the Kneipp Jewelry Store was pre-dated by the Fred Rowe Jewelry store at 724 Simpson Ave. and speculates that the six cases likely date to Rowe’s opening circa 1915.
Mirau said he moved the business from Hoquiam and had three stores in Puget Sound-area malls — the Capital Mall in Olympia, the Lakewood Mall in Lakewood, and the Commons Mall in Federal Way.
“Mirau is now retiring and in the process of closing his Dynasty Estate Jewelry/Tacoma Antique Center at Fife Square (next to the Poodle Dog Restaurant) and offered the cases to the Polson,” said Larson.
Mirau said of the six cases donated earlier this month, four were made by Edward L. Gomoll & Co. in Seattle, and two by the Grand Rapids Show Case Co. in Portland, Oregon.
Larson said he was “thrilled to bring the Hoquiam artifacts back to the Harbor where they will be integrated into the museum’s permanent collection, both as artifacts themselves and as showcases to house new museum exhibits.
Mirau said a clock from Kneipp’s Jewelry is already on display at the Polson, and “these showcases will be a great addition.”