I was recently in another country where English isn’t even the lingua franca answering the first question one gets when chatting up fellow travelers. “Where do you live?” Usually they’ve never heard of Poulsbo so I end up responding that I live across the water from Seattle when this one, a stranger on the train to Madrid, interrupted me with, “Do you live where that great licorice store is located?”
That great licorice store is Poulsbo’s Marina Market, home of The Licorice Shrine. So hip is the Shrine that it has its own Twitter handle @LicoriceShrine which regularly tweets out updates to its licorice followers: “we have WAYYY more #blacklicorice in stock now! and #buylicorice on Sale!” And a blog. And an online store carrying 502 licorice related products.
I live in Poulsbo and as you know from previous posts, I walk everywhere. Marina Market and The Licorice Shrine are on one of my routes and so I stop by on occasion to pay homage. There are rows of packages and tins of authentic licorice choices from around the world. Brightly colored packages of black licorice from Finland, Holland, Sweden and Germany (Marina Market makes it easy to identify the origin of the licorice by placing country flags on the displays).
There are licorices filled with blueberry, pomegranate and mango. Sweet licorices. Salty licorices. Extreme super hot licorices. Gluten free licorices. Hard and soft licorices. And for those of you who insist, Marina Market carries faux licorice – Red Vines and Twizzlers that don’t even list licorice as an ingredient. In fact, some candies that call themselves licorice are really flavored with anise, a seed similar to but with less flavor than licorice extract. Real licorice candies are made from the root of the licorice plant; an herbal plant originating in China and India and used for thousands of years to relieve pain and heal wounds. The root contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin that’s fifty times sweeter than sugar. When the roots are shredded and ground they create an extract used in the making of licorice.
Why in my Norwegian themed town is there a Licorice Shrine? Because Nordic people have a fondness for licorice. In fact Google any Nordic country + licorice and you’ll find that each has a favorite type and flavor. Marina Market caters to that multitude of tastes. And if you prefer your licorice in liquid form, the store has fifteen varieties of beer flavored with licorice among its stock of 1079 beers.
Mrs. Nell Skinner taught one term at Mcdonald School. Then the school board told her they were against hiring married women so she was out of a job. She ran into the same opposition from the Illahee district but when she told them she had a sick husband and three children to support, they relented and hired her. To get to her job each day she would walk to Captain Anderson’s place and was rowed across the bay to Fletcher Bay. Then she took the little steamer Chickaree from the Fletcher Bay dock to the Illahee dock. After landing at Illahee she walked up to her school and made a fire in the wood stove to heat up the room before her pupils arrived.
In 1902 after graduating from the eighth grade, Chloe Sutton took the State Teachers Examinations, passed and received a certificate to teach. Her first school was located between Brownsville and Keyport.
My second year of teaching at Kitsap Lake School I served the children a hot lunch. Hot cocoa was always served on Mondays and I cooked vegetable soup at my cabin. I bought the soup bone and meat at Silverdale on Saturdays and cooked the stock. Each child brought a potato and 15 cents each week for lunch supplies. Eliza Jane Hanberg
On May 14, 1931, the Bremerton School Board adopted the following resolution: That a married woman having private means of support, income producing property or other property capable of producing an income, or a husband who is physically able to support her, shall not be hired as a teacher by the district.
Excerpts from The Way It Was in Kitsap Schools, Kitsap County Retired Teachers
The local newspapers have been busy covering public education issues in the county over the past month. South Kitsap School District lost its bond election to build a new high school for the second time. The North Kitsap Superintendent is under fire for ignoring teacher and community input. Central Kitsap School District has a bus driver shortage. And I’ve been reading a fascinating book that appears to be the sole resource of collected historical information and archived memories on Kitsap County’s public education history. What was it like back in the day?
Schools in the county were built before Washington achieved statehood and were mostly situated at population centers near lumber mills. Unlike today where the county is served by five school districts: South Kitsap, Bremerton, Central Kitsap, North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island, each early school in the county was a school district. By the time Washington was declared a state in 1889, there were already 615 students in the county and 24 schools located in 24 school districts. As the population grew and shifted, more schools were built. At its peak there were about 34 K-8 school districts in Kitsap County.
The first school was built in Port Gamble in the current North Kitsap School District, though the building that housed the school was used for “public worship, social enjoyment or fraternal communion and to educate the children.” Given the multi-purpose use of the building, Bainbridge Island lays claim to the first building erected as a school which was built in 1860 at Port Madison on Bainbridge Island. The third school was built seven years later at Seabeck in what is now the Central Kitsap School District.
Those earliest schools only served younger students. It wasn’t until 1902 that the first high school opened in Kitsap County. The school was located in an existing elementary building in Bremerton and in its first year there were four students who attended – three ninth graders and a tenth grader. By 1905, there were 61 students wanting to attend high school so Bremerton School District and adjacent Charleston School District voted to create a merged Union High School and agreed to open it in a Lutheran church in what is now downtown Bremerton. By 1908 the only high school in the county had it’s own building and a student population of 106. Students in the rest of the county who wanted to go to high school either attended high school in Bremerton or in Seattle or Vashon and boarded with family or friends.
In 1920 six of the fourteen school districts in what is now the North Kitsap School District joined forces to build Union High School. Over the next ten years, the remaining eight districts joined them and by 1930 a bigger high school was built. Port Orchard built its first high school in 1921 after a similar history of its eighteen school districts voting for one consolidated high school. Silverdale’s districts opened their first high school in 1925. Bainbridge’s eleven school districts opened a high school in 1916.
First Keyport School
Inside Keyport School
The school buildings changed as the county populations shifted. Some of the first schools took place in local residents’ homes such as the first Bethel School school in Port Orchard and the Bangor School near Silverdale. Others took place in a tent such as the Harley School on Bainbridge or a grocery store where the first Bremerton School operated. The earliest schools were small one room board and batten or log buildings constructed by volunteer labor on donated land with no insulation, no plumbing and a wood stove for heat. Water was usually carried in by the teacher or students from a neighbor’s well and the lack of heat often meant that the school only operated during the warmer months. The 1891 Crosby School in what is now the Central Kitsap School could only afford to stay open three months a year. Blackboards, books and desks came from donations and the local community raising money at basket socials to buy equipment. When the school building became too small it was sometimes dismantled and the materials used in the building of a bigger school or abandoned only to be reincarnated as something else as my previous post on an early Keyport school illustrates or the land and building was returned to the resident who donated the property.
The earliest teachers were unmarried woman and men (who could be married); some who had only just graduated themselves from the 8th grade. They performed multiple duties beyond teaching; they were also the school janitors, cooks and according to the Rules and Regulations of the State Board of Education, air quality monitors: Every public school teacher shall give vigilant attention to the temperature and ventilation of the school room and see that the atmosphere of the room is changed frequently.
The county rule regarding the married status of female teachers didn’t change until 1942 when a regulation was passed entitled War Emergency Teachers. Because male teachers were called to military service, the change allowed districts to hire married women during the duration of the Emergency. Despite what would now be an illegal hiring practice, women who taught managed to serve in school leadership capacities. Most famous among them is Elizabeth Ordway who taught at the first schools built in the county and then became the Superintendent of County Schools in the 1880s and Jane A. Ruley, the first African American teacher in Kitsap County hired by the Sheridan School District in Bremerton in 1887 to open its first school.
Unlike today when collective bargaining determines teacher salaries, the first Silverdale teachers recalled that their salaries were determined by having them bid for how much they wanted to get paid with the job usually going to the lowest bidder. The average monthly salary of the county’s first teachers ranged between $30 and $40 per month and much of it was used to pay room and board to the families they lived with while teaching. In some of the first schools, such as the small 20 feet x 28 feet Seabeck School, an apartment for the teacher was part of the building and some students whose commute by boat or walking was too distant or dangerous boarded with the teacher when school was in session. (School transportation didn’t involve bus driver shortages back in the day. There are plenty of anecdotal memories in the book about students swimming to shore from overturned boats and getting charged by bears while commuting to school and teachers sinking in quicksand while walking home.)
In researching this post I discovered a website with old class photos from Kitsap schools in the early to mid 1900’s. Who do you know in these photos? What memories exist in your family records about early schools in the county?
The March 29th Kitsap Sunnewspaper article popped up in my news feed: Sound Brewery Will Take Over Campana’s Building in Poulsbo. Somewhere in an unused file on my brain’s hard drive was a file that said the building that was about to become a brewpub began it’s life as a school. More research was necessary. Luckily for me, Chris Campana, the restaurant’s owner, happened to be there when I dropped by to take photos and the volunteers at The Poulsbo Historical Museum were their usual helpful selves.
Built in 1908, the building formerly known as Campanas was one of the early schools serving the Keyport and Pearson communities which are located several miles south of the building’s current Poulsbo Viking Way location. The early schools in Kitsap County were divided into much smaller community school districts, each with its own school building constructed on donated property of a community member with donated labor. As each community’s population grew or moved, new schools were built and old schools were abandoned or dismantled and rebuilt closer to the population center. Today one elementary school serves the Keyport and Pearson communities but from 1886 to 1952 a total of five tiny schools served students in both communities. It took some sleuthing to determine precisely which one of them was about to be reincarnated as a brewpub.
First Keyport School
Inside Keyport School
The first Keyport school was built in 1886. It was a 16 x 18 foot one room schoolhouse that opened on July 12th and closed three months later because without insulation or heat it could only operate 3-4 months a year. By 1891, the community decided that a larger school was needed south nearer the population center. There are conflicting records about whether the first school was abandoned or if it was dismantled and rebuilt as the second school and if the above photos are from school number one or school number two known as Kitsap Lake School. What is clear is that neither School 1 or School 2 is about to become Sound Brewery.
By 1907 the community again decided it needed a new school. It levied itself $205.00 for building materials and labor for the one room building and held “basket socials” to raise money for blackboards, bookcases, desks and a heating stove. School 3, more commonly known as South Keyport School, opened in 1908. By 1911, the school needed to be expanded and a $1200 bond was passed to add a new classroom. South Keyport School operated from 1908 to 1941. By 1941 the various community school districts had consolidated as North Kitsap School District. Most students from South Keyport School were transferred to other schools and by 1949 South Keyport School was totally abandoned. But that’s when it began its second life.
The abandoned school was purchased by the North Kitsap Baptist Church in 1951. The church intended to move the entire structure to land it had purchased on Viking Way, but the roads were too narrow to move the building intact and so it was dismantled for the relocation. Much of the lumber, the windows and the bell and bell tower were salvaged and used in the new church. By the early 1970s, the church had outgrown the building and so they purchased property on Little Valley Road in Poulsbo, built a new building and held their first service there on March 3, 1976. Again, what was once the little South Keyport schoolhouse sat vacant.
In 1976 the Campana family who already ran a successful restaurant in Bremerton, bought the schoolhouse building and opened it as an Italian restaurant.
As a tribute to the building’s origins, the Campana bar was decorated with school memorabilia.
Twenty-five years later the family closed the restaurant and leased the building to Sound Brewery who intends to move their brewing operations with the addition of a small food menu. School to Church to Restaurant to Brewery. It’s an auspicious start for the brewpub’s new location.
A Note: The helpful volunteers at the Poulsbo Historical Museum let me borrow an amazing book called The Way It Was in Kitsap Schools. Written and published by The Kitsap County Retired Teachers this heavily researched archive of stories, facts, school board minutes, photos and memories is a treasure for anyone researching the history of public education in Kitsap County. Many of the details for this post came from the book. It’s dedication reads, “This book is dedicated to the past, present and future people involved in education.” Because I’m so intrigued with its contents, you’ll be reading more blog posts that connect their labor of love research to current events.