Location: 2621 Capitol Way S
Local register; South Capitol National Historic Neighborhood; Women’s History
|Lo Ma Villa 1939, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives|
Lo Ma Villa today (2014), photo by Deb Ross
Lo Ma Villa, built in 1921, was undoubtedly named after the first letters of its owners, Louis and Marie Muench. The design is by architect Elizabeth Ayer, the first female graduate of the University of Washington School of Architecture. Ayer is noted for her elegant, spacious homes both here and in the Puget Sound area, often on an English Revival or French Eclectic style (see Westhillsyde and Bridges House). This home, like those, was built overlooking the Deschutes Estuary. It also would have had a view of the Olympia Brewery and over to the Schmidt Mansion, owned by the Muenches’ daughter Clara and her husband, Peter G. Schmidt. The home had extensive landscaping, including a waterfall.
Louis Muench was an industrialist who spent most of his working life in the eastern United States. Clara married Peter G. Schmidt in the early 20th century, and the Muenches were frequent visitors. In 1920, Louis and Marie, already in their 60s, and their remaining children, moved to the Olympia area, spending the first year or two living with the Schmidts, and then erecting Lo Ma Villa. Muench wasted no time on his arrival establishing himself as an important contributor to the state’s economic, financial and manufacturing environment. Deploring the waste from lumber mills, he founded the pulp industry in Washington state in Anacortes in 1925. He was a popular speaker on industry and economics both before and after his arrival in Olympia. The Muench genes produced prodigious number of daughters, with Louis and Marie’s 5 girls and Clara and Peter Schmidt’s 4.
For a time Lo Ma Villa was owned by Olympia city council member, Mary Lux. It is on the local register and at the very southern end of the South Capitol National Historic Neighborhood