New old roses for the Centennial Garden

In 2016 a Thurston County Heritage Grant in the amount of $2,000 was awarded to the Centennial Garden Foundation. The grant provides support for a Centennial Garden Improvement Project that has three parts. Part 1 calls for the research, identification and purchase of several varieties of “roses of historic significance” to be added to the current collection at the Centennial Rose Garden on the Schmidt House grounds. Parts 2 and 3 involve refurbishing the garden pathways with crushed rock and replenishing the bark mulch in the rose beds. The project will be completed by the end of 2017. Here we report progress on Part 1. Continue reading

Olympia Tumwater Foundation archive items featured in Washington State History Museum exhibit

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Steins, Vines & Grinds: Washington’s Story of Beer, Wine & Coffee

The latest exhibit at the Washington State History Museum, Steins, Vines & Grinds, explores the history of three libations that continue to be wildly popular in the Evergreen State. Discover how the passion of beverage industry leaders connected with the unique climate and geography of our state to place Washington at the forefront of the industry.

From these humble beginnings, an intriguing arc of production began. As a territory and a young state, Washington survived (and thrived in many cases) on beer, wine, and coffee grown, produced, and/or processed in the region. Local brewers generally made their beer in town, then delivered it by horse cart. Coffee roasteries either roasted green coffee beans at home or in the local marketplace. Immigrants from many points of origin grew wine grapes on small family farms. Each industry eventually achieved large-scale production: beer with Olympia Brewing Company, wine with Chateau Ste. Michelle, and coffee with Starbucks, among others. These large companies announced to the rest of the country Washington’s affinity with the beverage industry.

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A variety of artifacts, including the first stainless steel keg, from the Olympia Tumwater Foundation’s archives are on display at the exhibit

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A selection of vintage Olympia Beer bottles from the Foundation’s collection

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Many photos and a bottling machine from 1896 highlight the exhibit

Washington loves to drink! Our three favorite adult beverages—beer, wine, and coffee—are practically synonymous with Washington and have become part of our cultural fabric.

Exhibit details:

  • Saturday, Jan. 21 – Sunday, Apr. 23, 2017
  • Location: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Washington State History Museum, WA
  • Phone: 12537273500
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

More information available at www.WashingtonHistory.org.

Spring pruning the Centennial Rose Garden at the Schmidt House

Last October 26, I posted a blog here on fall pruning of roses at the Centennial Rose Garden. I noted that the purpose of fall pruning roses is simply to get the bushes cut down, stripped of their leaves and mounded up with beauty bark to protect them from winter damage. I also indicated that the most important time for pruning roses is in early spring – around here that would be when the daffodils and forsythia are in bloom – early to mid-March. That time is rapidly approaching so our plans call for spring pruning the Centennial Garden on Saturday, March 11, beginning at about 9:00am. Continue reading

Foundation receives grant to preserve and showcase brewery artwork

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Olympia Tumwater Foundation archivist Erin Whitesel-Jones, left, and curator Karen Johnson unwrap a piece of Olympia Brewing Company advertising artwork. The Thurston County Board of County Commissioners awarded seven 2017 heritage grants totaling $29,600. Among the recipients is the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, which plans to use its $5,000 to catalog and re-house 292 pieces of Olympia Brewing Company advertising artwork dating from the 1930s to 1980s. Lui Kit Wong Staff photographer

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Grant will help preserve historic Olympia Beer advertising artwork

BY LISA PEMBERTON – January 21, 2017      lpemberton@theolympian.com

Nearly 300 pieces of artwork used to design billboards and advertising campaigns for the Olympia Brewing Co., will be preserved, thanks to a $5,000 Thurston County Historic Commission grant.

The paintings, photographs and advertising concepts were created to promote Olympia Beer from the 1930s to the 1980s, according to Karen Johnson, a curator with the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, which manages the collection.

“These are just typical ads for all kinds of advertising campaigns that the brewery had,” she said.

Most of the pieces have been covered in brown paper for decades and have been stored in the temperature-controlled archives room in the basement of the Schmidt House, the historic Tumwater home built for brewery owner Leopold Schmidt and his wife, Johanna. The house now is managed by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation.

“We haven’t opened up all of the packages,” Johnson said. “But it’s like Christmas every time we open something up.”

The foundation was one of seven organizations that received 2017 Preservation Grants from Thurston County. The funds come from setting aside $1 from each $5 historic document recording fee that is collected by the Thurston County Auditor’s Office.

The grant program is managed by the Thurston County Historic Commission. It received 10 applications and ranked the requests. The Board of County Commissioners authorized funding for seven of the applications last month.

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation received a Historic Commission grant last year to process and preserve about 6,000 of its collection of 10,000 photographs from the Schmidt family and the brewery.

“It went really well,” Johnson said. “… The logical progression was to preserve the next most fragile thing, which was the artwork.”

The advertising artwork will be placed in acid-free boxes and cataloged. In October or November, the foundation plans to host an art show and feature 20 or 30 of the pieces, Johnson said.

“The whole focus is to share what we have, not keep it locked up,” she said. “… This is our county’s history in here.”

Olympia Tumwater Foundation director John Freedman said he believes the artwork will be a popular draw because the brewery was the county’s largest employer for many years.

“The brewery put Tumwater on the map,” he said.

Freedman said brewery workers saw their job as more of a way of life than an occupation. Olympia Beer items are highly collectable, and the artwork from the historic advertisements will probably tap into nostalgia, he said.

“The Schmidt family was very good to their employees; they had great benefits, great pay for the area,” Freedman said. “There’s a tremendous longing for that life again. It’s a bygone era.”

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton