Welcome to the Olympia Tumwater Foundation

What We Do

Founded in 1950, the non-profit Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) honors both the history and future of Thurston County through its commitment to a wide range of community projects including student scholarships, historic preservation, and stewardship of Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls and the historic Schmidt House.

Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls

The most ambitious project undertaken by OTF was construction in 1962 of a 15-acre park along the falls of the Deschutes River. Today, it is a popular tourist destination with over 250,000 annual visitors!

Scholarships & Grants

Since awarding its first college scholarship in 1967, OTF has given more than $2.4 million in scholarships and grants and helped hundreds of students pursue undergraduate degrees.

The Schmidt House

Built by Olympia Brewing Co. founder Leopold Schmidt in 1904, the elegant Schmidt House contains the extensive Olympia Brewing Co. archives and history program offices and is available for tours and rentals.


Schmidt House History Talks Are Here Again

History talks return to the Schmidt House! After a long closure due to COVID and a construction project, we’re pleased to announce that monthly History Talks are back! Join us each month for a free hour-long talk on social or natural history, each presented by a recognized expert. All talks will be at noon on a specified Thursday. First come, first seated until capacity is reached.  November 2 A Confluence

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The Salmon Return to Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls

It’s the beginning of September, and that means the annual return of the Chinook salmon is almost here! This time last year, Tumwater Falls was full of salmon. As of today, September 7th, the WDFW fish ladder here in the park has just been turned on for the season. We expect to see only more and more salmon in the viewing windows over the next few weeks! If you’re interested in learning more about the annual salmon run here at Brewery Park, check out this video made by Thurston Community Media, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the City of Tumwater. There will also be plenty of opportunity to learn about the salmon at the annual Falls Fest held at Brewery Park on September 30th, 2023! There will be ongoing educational presentations about the salmon from WDFW employee, Lee Pilon, outside the fish ladder during the entirety of the event (10am-4pm). Make sure to mark your calendars so you don’t miss out!

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Welcome to Our New Rose Garden Volunteers!

The Centennial Rose Garden on the grounds of the Schmidt House has been tended by a loyal group ofvolunteers since the garden was dedicated in 1989. However, these stalwart volunteers have been agingout, so we’ve been looking for some young blood to help out in the garden. The Master Gardeners ofThurston County have come to the rescue! On the first of August, 24 Master Gardeners attended an afternoon meet-and-greet hosted by theFoundation. The get-together included an informal talk on rose care by Dr. Gary Ritchie, nationallyrecognized rose expert and de facto leader of our rose garden volunteers. After a break for beveragesand snacks, Gary and other existing volunteers led the newcomers on a tour of the rose garden,including a hands-on session on deadheading (removing spent blossoms to encourage new flowers). A full dozen Master Gardeners signed up to continue volunteering in our garden! Midge Price, currentpresident of the Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County, was pleased to see such a bigresponse. She says that our rose gardeners and Master Gardeners have many aligned interests. We alllook forward to a continuing friendship: the rose garden will get extra care, and the new gardeners willbe able to learn from the best. We’ll

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“Little Oly – A Real Blast”, An Article By Karen Johnson, Schmidt House Curator

Back in 1962, the Olympia Brewing Company of Tumwater, Washington added a new container to their line: a seven-ounce can affectionately dubbed the “Little Oly.” The tiny can was at first test-marketed in Oregon and a few other states that allowed the little containers. The concept proved popular with “lady customers” as well as “boaters, campers, fishermen and many others for reasons of novelty, space-saving, daintiness, small-thirst, and so on,” according to an interview with then brewery president Bump Schmidt. A couple of frat rats at Oregon State University in Corvallis were fond of the little cans of Oly and put them to a unique use which the brewery hadn’t foreseen. Bruce Stennett, a junior in 1965, was reading a magazine article on ‘do it yourself’ manufacturing of firearms. Finishing the article, he turned to his fraternity brother, Terry Brock, and nonchalantly said, “Let’s build a cannon.” Terry, a senior mechanical engineering student, was not in the least dismayed by his friend’s statement and with equal aplomb replied, “Great. When do we start?” The initial question that had to be resolved was the size of the projectile that was to be used, for this would determine the size of the

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Support the Foundation, Make a Donation

As a non-profit organization, we rely on support from donations and charitable contributions to fund our programs.

What's New

September Newsletter

Read about the what we’ve been up to here at the foundation, and what’s coming next!

History & Nature Center at Brewery Park

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation is pleased to announce plans for a new History and Nature Center to enhance visitors’ appreciation of the rich cultural resources and spectacular natural beauty of Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls. We need our community’s help to fund this incredible project!

The Return of the Salmon

The annual salmon run through Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls has begun! The WDFW fish ladder in the park features an incredible viewing platform with windows. Come see these incredible fish while they’re here!

Historic Photos of Tumwater

Explore the history of the Tumwater area through vintage photos. In 2020, OTF was awarded a grant from the Thurston County Historic Commission. This grant allowed OTF to digitize over 4,400 images from its collection. From time to time, more photos will be added to our website. Our expansive archives are in the process of being digitized. This means anyone curious about Tumwater’s past can browse through a catalogue of incredible photographs. 

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