TUMWATER, Wash. – “It’s the Water,” was the slogan that made Olympia Beer famous, but it’s the rainwater that’s making the brewery’s old 1906 brewhouse crumble.
“This place was only 10 years old when prohibition shut it down, so it never had repairs,” said Paul Knight, a retired brewmaster who worked at the brewery from 1961 to 1997.
He’s one of the dozens of volunteers trying to restore the historic building to its past glory.
“That’s our hope,” said Knight. “Someday it will be a shining example again.”
Those volunteers, with the help of a crane, put temporary roofing on the six-story building Friday.
The brewhouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has sat empty since the brewery shut down in 2003.
A private developer purchased the property, but donated the brewhouse to the City of Tumwater last year. The city wants private investors to redevelop the building.
Mayor Peter Kmet said the temporary roofing will protect the building.
“Our hope is that this will preserve the structure until we can get some significant funding to do a more permanent restoration,” said Kmet, who estimated renovating and restoring the building would cost $6.5 million.
Tumwater city spokesperson Ann Cook said the city would like to see the property turned into another brewery or a restaurant.
The city plans on completing a trail along the Deschutes River making it easier to access the property. Cook said the city envisions “a vibrant center to celebrate the community’s rich history and brewing tradition.”