Original Olympia Brewery

Tuesday, May 12, 2009



This beautiful old building which sits across from Tumwater Historical Park has quite a history. In the summer of 1895 Leopold Schmidt came to the Pacific Northwest in search of a location to build another brewery. He already owned the largest and most successful brewery in Montana, but wished to be closer to the Pacific coast. The original wooden buildings of the Capital Brewery were constructed in 1896. The Capital Brewing Company became The Olympia Brewing Company in 1902 and branded the slogan "It's the Water", making reference to the pure artesian water that brought them to that location. In 1906 the wooden brewery was replaced with a six story Italianate design building. It was built using local materials. Leopold Schmidt died in 1914, shortly before prohibition came to Washington. His oldest son Peter then took over. During prohibition, brewing companies did what was necessary to stay alive. The Schmidt family continued doing business by producing a near beer called German Brew, another product called Olympia Malt Extract and Olympia Artesian Water. They also produced a product called Appleju. When national prohibition hit in 1920 the Schmidt family invested their money in hotels. Many brewers purchased hotels and/or saloons to have an outlet for their product. In the early 1920's they decided to sell their inactive breweries including this one. They concentrated their efforts on their hotel chain that would eventually become the present day Westin Hotel chain. They also started a bus transport business that became the Greyhound Bus Lines.
The rest of the story tomorrow.........

5 comments

  1. AB Says:

    Beautiful building. What a shame it is not still making beer.

  2. Wow, that's what I call blogging research! It looks a bit like a mill, a forlorn one...

  3. Hilda Says:

    Never heard of the brewing companies but I've definitely heard of Westin and Greyhound. Fantastic history. And a very resilient family.

    This old brewery would make for a nice little hotel, I think.

  4. Abe Lincoln Says:

    This looks more like a castle, to me, than a brewery. When I hear the word brewery I somehow associate it with gangsters. When I was younger the bank robbers used to come to this area to pick off a local bank, I guess. It made the news. I still don't know what there is about the two unless it is bootlegging white lightening.

  5. Local government is trying to figure out what exactly to do with the building. There is an effort to find someone to restore it before it is beyond repair.

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