Tumwater

The City of Tumwater is located at the southern tip of Puget Sound. The rugged Olympic Mountains rise in the distance and Mount Rainier seems close enough to touch on a clear day. Tumwater is just south of our state capitol, the City of Olympia.

Welcome to Tumwater, Washington

As Washington’s First Community, Tumwater has a rich heritage.  Located at the southern tip of Puget Sound, the rugged Olympic Mountains rise in the distance and Mount Rainier seems close enough to touch on a clear day. 

The importance of parks, recreation, art, culture, ecology and biodiversity continues to be valued in the Tumwater community.  Tumwater is home to nine city parks spanning in size from .3 to 85 acres.  The city’s many parks and open spaces offer a variety of opportunities to relax, unwind, and recreate.  Enjoy hiking trails, sports fields, picnic areas, river access, and a chance to reconnect with the beautiful natural environment.  From the Tumwater Valley Municipal Golf Course, golfers take in beautiful views of the Deschutes River and Mount Rainier.  See wildlife ranging from red tail hawks, blue herons, river otters, beavers, whitetail deer, coyotes and, of course, the fall salmon run. 

Explore Tumwater’s rich history by visiting the Crosby House Museum, walking the grounds of the historic Henderson House, or exploring the Pioneer Calvary Cemetery – site of the oldest burial plots in Thurston County, including some of the area’s original settlers.

The City of Tumwater is building upon our rich history to create a better tomorrow and always striving to be a wonderful community in which to live, work, and play.

History of Tumwater

Bounded by Interstate 5, the Schmidt House, the falls of the Deschutes River and Tumwater Falls Park, the district was occupied in prehistoric and historic times by Salish Indians, known as the Stehchas, or st tcas bc people.

Old Tumwater Historic Dist.The Hudson’s Bay Company called the falls "the Chutes" or "Puget Sound Falls". The falls were a rendezvous point and in 1833, they considered moving the Ft. Nisqually to the site. The Bush-Simmons Party, who crossed the Oregon Trail in 1844, overwintered at Fort Vancouver and probably heard of the falls from the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In 1845, their party of 30 including the Simmons, Bush, McAllister, Kindred and Jones families, along with Jesse Ferguson and Samuel B. Crockett, established the first permanent American settlement on Puget Sound at the falls, called "New Market".

In 1863, the settlement became known as Tumwater, a Chinook Jargon word meaning "falling water." During the 1860s and 1870s many small factories grew up along its banks, including a tannery, lumber and flour mills, a water pipe factory, a prune drying company, a blacksmith shop and a box factory. General stores, hotels, a literary society, a school and a church followed. Through the early to mid-1900s the area continued as a small business and residential district. However, many historic homes and businesses were razed when Interstate 5 was built in 1957-1958.

Tumwater Falls Park was established in 1962 by The Olympia-Tumwater Foundation, and Historic Park was built by the City of Tumwater in 1980.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Old Brewhouse

On May 6, 2006 the Capital Community celebrated the 100th birthday of the Old Brewhouse and the Tumwater City Council proclaimed the next twelve months as "The Year of the Old Brewhouse".

The Old Brewhouse 1906 - 2006

In 1906 the Olympia Brewing Company, which was owned by Leopold Schmidt, constructed what is now called the "Old Brewhouse".  It is six-stories tall of red brick, elegant arches, copper roof with Tenino sandstone trim.  The Old Brewhouse served as the proud centerpiece of the Schmidt family brewing operation until Prohibition. The Old Brewhouse has long been associated with the Olympia Brewery which was the Capital Community's largest private employer for a significant part of the past century.  The importance of the structure was recognized in 1978 when the property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is seen by tens of thousands of people every day from Interstate 5Old Brewhouse image and is one of the Capital Community's most iconic structures.  The Old Brewhouse influenced the design of dozens of new buildings in the region including Tumwater's City Hall, Fire Station, and the Timberland Regional Library in Tumwater.

The Brewhouse Today

Over the years the Old Brewhouse fell into disrepair, with little maintenance ocurring.  In 2004 the structure was listed as one of "Washington State's Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties" by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

The City of Tumwater has taken a number of actions designed to protect the Old Brewhouse.  These have included adopting Comprehensive Plan goals and policies to: "protect designated … national landmarks" and "encourage the development of the Tumwater Historic Commercial Zoning District."  In the mid-1990's the City adopted special zoning and shoreline designation for the Old Brewhouse to encourage its redevelopment.

Brochure of the Old Brewhouse

Welcome to Tumwater, Washington!