I had the opportunity recently to tour the old historic Tumwater Brew House.
It’s a magnificent structure, made of Chehalis bricks and Tenino sandstone on the outside, and concrete and steel on the inside. It’s the landmark for the City of Tumwater and is used as the iconic symbol for all city buildings.
But, time and weather has significantly impacted the building. It’s topless, with no roof and bricks are continuously falling from the top of the structure. The windows have all been removed and the interior is left for the homeless and the elements to destroy.
This landmark of earlier times in Tumwater should be saved. Someone needs to come up with an estimated million dollars to put a roof over the top of the brew tower.
I love history. I love old buildings. I’m also a Tumwater kid and remember very well when the building was in use. My parents worked in the adjacent buildings when it was Western Metalcraft.
But, having said all that. I can’t conceive on any significant public use for the building. There’s no public access to it.
The Brew House operated from 1906 to 1916 – a short ten years. That’s all. It was served by a railroad, which brought in hops, barley and rice. Small boats traveled up Budd Inlet and served the brewery during those times, taking away the finished product.
But, those are gone, and there is no way for the public to get to the property except by a narrow, steep road. Surrounded by water on two sides and steep cliffs on the other two sides, the brewery is isolated.
Supporters talk about building a bridge over the DesChutes River, a walking bridge. I say good luck to that. The Department of Ecology will never allow a bridge over the river. Accessing it by boat at high tide requires the removal of the Fifth Avenue Bridge and the dredging of the lake.
The Brew House is isolated. There can be no public use without access.
My best advice is to stop the deterioration, renew the exterior, remove the old surrounding buildings, clean up the property, open up the land to provide a better view of the restored building – – and let it serve as a city landmark for another century. Forget about trying to find a public use for it. Somethings are beautiful just for their looks.