Watching paint dry isn’t how to spend a weekend. Watching artists at work, on the other hand, is. They do the waiting while you admire their technique, the subject matter and the fact that Kitsap County has so many talented painters who work en plein air (French for outside). On May 12th you have an opportunity to see them at work at Poulsbo’s waterfront park as they vie for cash prizes in a timed event called Paint Out Poulsbo. In mid-August you can see them at work in Winslow on Bainbridge Island. Check out the details in my latest article published in West Sound Home and Garden.
I walked the three mile round trip loop of Belfair’s Theler Wetland Trails today expecting to write about the well maintained trail system, the habitat and the birds. Instead I’m writing about the art and memorial benches. Yes, the trails and bird watching are worthy subjects, but I was alternately distracted, inspired and made contemplative by the man made objects in the ecosystem.
It began at the entrance with a charming memorial called Zachary’s Playground. I don’t know who Zachary was, but the idea of a loving memorial for living children made me pause and wonder about Zachary and his family.
A bit further down the path was a bright green metal memorial bench dedicated to Harriet Root. I have no idea who Harriet was, but the pot of pink flowers next to the bench told me somebody cared very much about her.
The actual entrance to the trail is marked by an elaborate metal gate of native trees and shrubs – a beautiful ode to the art of metalwork.
Continuing down the path are carved wooden sculptures that greet the entrance to the Mary Theler Exhibit Building.
Mounted next to the building is a 27 foot whale skeleton, one of the most complete in Washington. A two year old grey whale washed ashore near Belfair State Park in 1999 and was buried to decompose. Two years later it was cleaned, dried and reconstructed before being placed on display after a dedication ceremony led by the local Skokomish Nation.
Behind the Mary Theler Exhibit Center is a salmon mural of intricate Northwest wildlife scenes.
…..and a Bob Dylan tribute
…….and a sculpture of a great blue heron made of metal rectangles engraved with names.
The next memorial bench was dedicated to Shelley Horton who would have recently celebrated her 50th birthday. I don’t know who Shelly was but my guess is that she loved a party and I’m pretty sure I would have liked knowing her.
Then came an aggregate concrete memorial bench to Florence Crosswhite who must have loved great blue herons. I would have liked her as well.
This simple memorial bench to Kathleen Landrum sat on a small promontory overlooking the estuary. It didn’t need any adornment. Its placement begged for some sitting and thinking.
My wetlands trail walk turned out to be much more than an opportunity to get some exercise on a rare no rain day. Whoever planned for the art and memorial benches turned my walk into a more soul-feeding activity. There were people who cared about the wetlands and wanted to have a trace of themselves memorialized there. There were artists who integrated the wetlands habitat into metal work, sculpture and painting. And Bob Dylan had something to say about the ecosystem as well. It felt like I had company on my walk. It will take community to save places like Theler Wetlands and maybe that was the message I was supposed to hear.
Posted on a vibrant yellow sticky note (the extra large kind) behind my computer is a list of topics I keep intending to blog about but don’t because I’m so easily distracted by other topics. The Suquamish Museum, that beautiful and educational gem showcasing Suquamish Tribal history and artifacts as well as temporary exhibitions about other Salish Sea tribes, is a 15 minute drive from my house. At 34 years old, it’s one of the first tribally owned and curated museums in the country. I often take guests there. I intended to blog about it. But writer Kristin Butler beat me to it in an informative article published in Indian Country Today. I share it here.
There are nine public and semi-public labyrinths in Kitsap County. Nine contemplative circular walking paths, all evolving from a labyrinth history that began in 5th century Egypt. I posted a blog about it last year and then revised it for use by West Sound Home and Garden’s online magazine who published it here.
I’m a walker. But you already know that from this, this and this post. In my ongoing search for interesting Kitsap walking paths, I discovered Winslow’s Waterfront Loop Trails, a series of interconnected walking routes that hug the shores of Eagle Harbor and then loop back through downtown commercial and residential Winslow past interesting sites. A handy walking map can be found at the ends of the trail or downloaded here.
Armed with the detailed map, I discovered I’d previously walked portions of the trail, but walked it without really knowing the history and sites along the way. With the map I discovered I’d unwittingly passed by:
- The only known grove of Monterey Pines in King or Kitsap counties.
- A shipyard that built WWII minesweepers
- The site of an old strawberry cannery
- The filled in ravine that formerly divided Winslow into two communities
- Historic bungalows lived in by shipyard workers
And 6. My favorite Bainbridge pub located in Ambrose Grow’s 1880’s home
There are two loops to the Waterfront Trail, each about two miles long. This is a historical and nature walk that’s best done with plenty of time to observe the sites. For a deep dive into the history, the walk conveniently passes the Island Center School House which now serves as the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. The museum is filled with artifacts of the island’s past and very helpful staff who want to insure all your questions are answered.
I may not have mentioned this previously. I’m a freelance travel writer. I love the research that goes into an article. And I can ever so easily go down the internet rabbit hole which was exactly how I ended up on the National Register of Historic Places website.
It began with an article idea about architectural styles that I pitched to a regional magazine and they liked it. Then I began to research and found myself in the murky depths of online digital archives with links about strange architectural style names: Carpenter Gothic, Brutalism and Slick Skin anyone? Anyone?
However, in the pursuit of the history of one particular building, I found myself on the National Register of Historic Places and wondered how many sites in Kitsap County had been awarded that designation. Surprisingly it turns out there are 19 and they’re as varied as the county itself. There were 20 but one of the sites, the Sidney Hotel in Port Orchard, built in 1891, burnt down in 1985. Apparently they take away your active designation when you cease to exist.
The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service. The list includes districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that have been identified and documented as being significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture. There’s a fairly lengthy state and federal process involved in being named to the list so kudos to our 19 recipients. In alphabetical order, here are Kitsap County’s sites deemed worthy of the title:
The Agate Pass Bridge in Suquamish
Bremerton Elks Temple Lodge (currently called the Catholic Services Max Hale Center)
Camp Major Hopkins on Bainbridge Island (currently called Camp Yeomalt)
Coder-Coleman House in Bremerton
Filipino-American Community Hall on Bainbridge Island
Fort Ward Historic District on Bainbridge Island
The Hospital Reservation District in Bremerton
Jackson Hall Memorial Community Hall in Silverdale (also known as Silverdale Scout Hall)
The Marine Reservation District in Bremerton
Masonic Hall in Port Orchard
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton
Charles F Nelson House in Olalla
Officers Row Historic District in Bremerton
Old Man House Site in Suquamish
Point No Point Lighthouse in Hansville
Port Gamble Historic District in Port Gamble
Puget Sound Radio Station District in Bremerton
Shelbanks in Bremerton (also known as Kean Cabin)
U.S. Post Office in Bremerton
You may be wondering why the three Reservation Districts in Bremerton are in bold? It’s because I’m as intrigued as you are about their history and anticipate a future blog post about them. What exactly is a Radio Station District? Why is there a Hospital Reservation District? Will the internet rabbit hole reveal the answers?
If you haven’t ventured into Port Gamble’s little gem of a historical museum, you’ve missed a western shores of Puget Sound educational treat. Located in the basement of the 1916 era Port Gamble General Store, the Port Gamble Historical Museum is often mistaken for the better known Sea and Shore Museum located on the upper floor of the store, even by locals.
No. Not the same at all. Follow the sidewalk and stairs outside to the back of the General Store to find the unassuming entrance of the Historical Museum. Designed in 1972 by Alec James, who designed the Royal British Museum in Victoria, Canada, the museum is not a quaint, small town operation. Its a professionally designed museum packed into a small space that showcases the 125 year plus history of the Pope And Talbot Lumber Mill and company town that it built.
Upon entering, visitors first see a recreation of the interior of the ship, Oriental, whose Captain, William C. Talbot and crew came from East Machias, Maine to settle Port Gamble. The ship creaks and groans and the porthole displays a moving ocean, enough to make one seasick if you watch it long enough. Captain Talbot’s actual ship log can be read in a glass display case in his quarters.
Recreation of the interiors of important buildings using the actual furniture, dishes and silver wear was part of the design. The lobby of the long gone Puget Sound Hotel is there complete with music from its hey day as the social gathering place. The bedroom of settlers, Cyrus and Emily Walker has been recreated using period furnishings and specially commissioned wallpaper that copied the original found in their bedroom. There is a replica of the inside of the Pope and Talbot sales office and a S’Klallam Native American dwelling, the original settlers of Port Gamble.
Display cases showcase period fans and wedding dresses, Native American baskets and tools used by the men and women who worked in the mill. There are letters, records and photographs of the non-Native men and women who settled and made Port Gamble their home.
Give yourself time when you visit. The museum, though not the multi floor bohemoth of the Royal British Museum, is a place that needs savoring. The volunteers who keep the museum running are very informative and, if you ask, will show you the back room that houses all of the archived and unlabeled artifacts that have been donated, unearthed and found in attics and crevices of the historical homes and buildings that make up Port Gamble.
Children six and under free
May 1st through September 30th: 10:00 a.m. to5 p.m seven days a week.
October 1st through April 30th: 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday/Saturday/Sunday.