Revitalizing the Old Brewhouse has been a community and City priority for several years. After a period of dormancy and lack of building maintenance, this seminal piece of Tumwater history was purchased by Falls Development in 2010. On April 5, 2016, Mayor Pete Kmet was authorized by the City Council to sign a Letter of Agreement with the owner to that would donate the Old Brewhouse to the City.
The City's ownership will not be official until the deed has been transferred.
A Community Icon: The Historic Old Brewhouse
In 1906 the Olympia Brewing Company, owned by Leopold Schmidt, constructed what is now called the "Old Brewhouse" of red Chehalis brick, lumber hauled by horses from Ward Lake, and Tenino sandstone trim. The Olympia Brewery was our community's largest private employer for a significant part of the past century and many local residents have their own stories of family member’s experiences working for the Brewery. The Old Brewhouse is one of the community’s most iconic structures and is seen by thousands of people every day from Interstate 5. Over the years the Old Brewhouse fell into disrepair. The City of Tumwater has taken a number of actions designed to protect and revitalize the Old Brewhouse for generations of Tumwater residents to come, as it serves as the last reminder of the flourishing riverside industries that once formed the heart of this town.
The Old Brewhouse is a regional asset with a high degree of cultural and historic value. The potential for economic development will contribute to increased regional employment opportunities, revitalization of the local and regional economy, and reinvigorate a site that has lasting community value. The challenges to viable and feasible development are the complex environmental dynamics of the site and age of the structure. The Old Brewhouse is vulnerable to extreme weather and earthquakes, and is currently unsafe to occupy. Remodeling and preserving the Old Brewhouse will cost an estimated $5.6 million. To offset costs, the City will commence discussions to develop funding strategies. Possible new sources include:
- Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits
- Foundation grants
- Washington State Heritage Capital Project Grants
- Washington State Community Project Grants
- Transportation funding for trails
- Capital campaign
- In kind donations
- Foundation partnerships
In addition to a trail system and boardwalk to allow public access, the City continues to work with a team of partners to incentivize redevelopment of the brewery site and build on the historic brand through the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center. This would be a “Center of Excellence” for the rapidly growing brewing and distilling industries in Washington and could generate more than 600 jobs and more than $100 million for the local economy.
Presentations and public comments given at the April 5th, 2016 City Council Meeting:
- Old Brewhouse Acquisition
- The Old Brewhouse: A Community Landmark
- Historic Brewery Tower
- Public Comments
Saving the Old Brewhouse, one owl at a time; post on the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center website, 12/2/2016