It was an active workshop with a blacksmith shop at the back for many years. In the 1930s, it served as a gas station, and the old Shell sign can still be faintly seen. During the late 1940s, two men who had returned from WWII used it as a boat building shop. By the time the Association gained ownership, it had fallen into complete disrepair, with standing water, mildew, and decaying boards. In 1993 the building was completely rebuilt through generous donations and fundraising. Today it is a popular destination with its hands-on activities.
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 into a home, and an attached shed/shop was built on the southwest side of the Orr Home. For a time, that addition was the shop's location, but eight children required further change, and in the late 1870s, the Wagon Shop was built as a separate building on the Orr Property facing Main Street.
The original “wagon and blacksmith” shop was located inside the Nathaniel Orr home. Nathaniel lived as a bachelor on the home's second floor and operated a carpentry and wagon shop with horse-powered lathes on the first floor.
The Wagon Shop was reconstructed in 1992, but the location, design, and exterior/interior walls were restored true to the style and appearance of the original shop. The building was used for small events and eventually for the storage of SHMA artifacts. In 2004 SHMA members Russ Cable and George Phillips volunteered to restore the Shop further to look and function as an 1880-90s working shop. The building now contains 40 woodworking 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.