Schmidt House

In 1983, the Foundation acquired Tumwater’s elegant Schmidt House, built in 1904 for Olympia Brewing Company founder Leopold Schmidt and his wife Johanna. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Tumwater Register of Historic Places and is within the Tumwater Historic District. The picturesque grounds are graced with native gardens, reflective pool and graceful statues brought back from Europe by Leopold Schmidt.

The historic house and grounds are made available for the Public History Programs organized by the Foundation’s Public History Manager, and for a limited number of rental opportunities for weddings, receptions and other special events.

A historical marker, “A House Called Three Meter.” stands just outside the front gate of the Schmidt House grounds and provides a detailed history on the home and family who had lived there.

The grounds also feature the Centennial Rose Garden cared for by the Olympia Rose Society, the Pacific Northwest District of the American Rose Society. For information on the history of this garden and of the variety of rose species grown, go to www.pnwdistrict.org

Congressman Denny Heck visits the Schmidt House Archives
This view of the six-story brick building known as the Old Brewhouse (1906) was taken around 1910. Midway up the bluff stands a white wood frame house called Hillside Inn (no longer standing today). And at the top of the bluff on the right is the Schmidt House before the addition of the west wing in 1911.
The Schmidt House as it originally appeared before the 1910 addition. Note the gardener edging the lawn by hand.
This view of the Schmidt House, taken sometime after 1910, shows the addition of the new west wing.

Schmidt House History

The Schmidt House, set high on a wooded bluff at the mouth of the Deschutes River, was built at the turn of the 20th Century for local brewery owner Leopold Schmidt and his wife Johanna. Mr. Schmidt already owned a successful brewing operation in Montana when a business trip first brought him to the Tumwater area in the early 1890s. Discovering that the artesian springs here were perfect for brewing beer, Schmidt sold his Montana holdings and built a new brewery at the foot of Tumwater Falls. The brewery shipped its first beer in 1896.

At first the Schmidt family lived in Portland, Oregon. Leopold and Peter spent much of their time in Tumwater, since they were actively involved in brewing. When Leopold brought the family north, they first lived in a house near the intersection of Main (now Capitol) and Maple Park in Olympia. As his brewing business prospered, Mr. Schmidt began planning a larger, more elegant residence that would stand at the top of the hill. In 1904 the couple moved into the new house with their daughter, the youngest of six children. Their five sons lived at Hillside Inn, an older home on the slope just above the brewery. For reasons lost to posterity, the Schmidts called the new house “Three Meter.”

A Blend Of Popular Styles

By the time the first part of the house was built, the fussiness of the Victorian age was giving way to simpler, less elaborate house designs. Though the overall shape of the Schmidt House belongs to that earlier period, its decorative details—a portico with classical columns, a front door with transom and sidelights—borrows from the Colonial Revival style that was gaining in popularity at the time the Schmidts built their home.

Around 1910, as his health began to decline, Leopold Schmidt added a conference-room wing onto the west side of the house so that he could meet with his sons to discuss brewery business without having to make the long walk down to the company office.

The Next Generation

Leopold and Johanna Schmidt, both born and raised in Germany, pose with their six children in a portrait taken in the late 1890s. The tallest boy is their oldest son, Peter, who inherited the family home.

Leopold and Johanna Schmidt, both born and raised in Germany, pose with their six children in a portrait taken in the late 1890s. The tallest boy is their oldest son, Peter, who inherited the family home.

After the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt, the house known as “Three Meter” passed to the oldest of the Schmidt sons, Peter, and his wife, Clara, who had been living at Hillside Inn. Although the couple undertook some modernization of the home in the late 1930s and early ‘40s, the Schmidt House remains largely in its original state today.

“I have wonderful memories of looking out of the breakfast nook, dining room and living room windows, which all looked out over Tumwater Bay,” recalled Peter G. Schmidt, Jr., who grew up in the house. “There was a beautiful view of the Olympic Mountains. At night when the Capitol dome was lit, it too was a beautiful sight.”

Clara Schmidt had a particular interest in the gardens and grounds, and many of the mature trees and rhododendrons surrounding the house were planted during her lifetime. Until the 1950s, there was a small orchard of apple and pear trees located east of the house. At various times, there were also dairy cows, poultry and sheep on the property.

In 1960 the Olympia Brewing Company purchased Three Meter from the estate of Peter and Clara Schmidt. When the descendants of Leopold Schmidt sold the brewing company in 1983, the Schmidt House property was donated to the non-profit Olympia Tumwater Foundation, which continues to own and maintain the house. The Schmidt House is now listed on the local, State and National Registers of Historic Places. No longer used as a residence, the house and its beautiful gardens are made available for community activities as well as a setting for weddings, receptions and a wide range of special events.

Schmidt House Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns the Schmidt House?

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization acquired the historic home in 1983.

How do I set up a time to see the home for a possible reservation?

Call (360) 890-2299 or email kjohnson@olytumfoundation.org to schedule a time.

Can I use a caterer of my choice for my event at the Schmidt House?

Yes, you can use a caterer of your choice.

Can I schedule a history tour of the home?

Directions & Map

Southbound:

I-5 South
Take 2nd Ave. Exit 103
At stop sign go straight
At light take left onto Custer Way
Take 1st left onto Schmidt Place. The Schmidt House is straight ahead behind the iron fence.
Parking is to the right of the home.

Northbound:

I-5 North
Take Deschutes Way Exit 103
Turn right onto Deschutes Way
At light turn left onto Capitol Boulevard
At light turn left onto Custer Way
Take 1st right onto Schmidt Place. The Schmidt House is straight ahead behind the iron fence.
Parking is to the right of the home.

CONTACT OLYMPIA TUMWATER FOUNDATION

Get In Touch Today!

Mailing Address: P.O Box 4098, Tumwater, WA 98501

Physical Location: 110 Deschutes Way SW (Tumwater Falls Park), Tumwater, WA 98501

(360) 943-2550

OTF@olytumfoundation.org

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