In the building’s 110-year existence, it has been poked and prodded, repainted, rewired, moved from one end of the island to the other, retrofitted with an annex and lifted to dig a basement to provide climate-controlled storage and more research space. Fittingly, the little red schoolhouse containing the artifacts of Bainbridge Island’s colorful history is, itself, a remnant of Bainbridge’s past. Home to the award-winning Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, the 1,000-square-foot building has led multiple lives, all of them on the island. Read more here…
The dog days of summer are unusually doggy here in ExplorationKitsap land. We normally enjoy temperate daylight weather to do our thing, but with successive days of 90 degree plus temperatures and hazy skies from the fires in Canada, I’m reversing my active time of day. This morning I went for a power walk, shopped for groceries, watered and dead-headed my outdoor plants and baked up some barbecued chicken, all before 8 AM to take advantage of cooler weather. Last night I sipped a glass of my favorite local wine in the dark on my deck for the same reason.
Fusion is a white blend made by Rolling Bay Winery, a Bainbridge Island establishment with a river rock tasting room resembling a Hobbit house. Fusion is my favorite wine to drink while listening to live outdoor music on the tasting room patio; my favorite wine to drink in the dark on my deck and my favorite wine in which to drop frozen peach slices. Shhh. Don’t tell Alphonse de Klerk, Fusion’s affable Dutch maker that I do that. Though really….it’s the perfect dog days of summer libation. It might also be best not to mention that I drink my peach infused Fusion in a copper Moscow Mule mug because if it’s good enough for vodka and ginger beer, it’s perfect for a lovely white table wine.
Rolling Bay Winery has a schedule of tastings accompanied by live music throughout the summer at its Hobbit house location and exciting plans to open a second larger tasting room and production facility a few miles away. Check them out. No Moscow Mule Mugs. No frozen peaches. Just a great selection of award-winning whites, reds and a rose served properly in a wine glass, sipped on a sunny patio/lawn to live music. What better way to while away summer’s dog days?
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 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?
At any time of year, Bloedel Reserve’s acres of twelve distinct gardens and trails provide seasonal inspiration. Formerly the extensive property of a prominent Seattle timber family, the land and residence are now a reserve tended to by a year-round crew of landscapers and volunteers. In December, the 1920’s era grand home on the property transforms itself into a Holiday Village in miniature.
The public rooms on the main floor of the residence are filled with displays of handcrafted miniature houses, some of them fanciful such as this multi story tree house.
Others are scale models of European chateaus and castles set in tiny winter scenes.
And other houses depict the modest living conditions of the early immigrant settlers who came from Europe seeking a better life.
Each house is furnished inside with exacting detail, much of it handmade and replicated from historical photos.
Even the newspaper used to insulate this log cabin home from the Midwest winters is an authentic miniature addition.
The homes and their interiors were a labor of love for 85 year old Dwight Shappell and his wife, Rolande. The owners of the former Dwight’s Flowers on Bainbridge Island created these holiday works of art. While he cut the tiny shingles, balconies and wooden parts to create the exteriors and furniture, she stitched the curtains, bedspreads and upholstery. Rolande passed away in 1991, but Dwight still presides over the setup of the holiday village each December and serves as its docent.
The Holiday Village is on display from December 10-31 during Bloedel’s regular hours on Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-4pm.
French painter Claude Monet was an accomplished early proponent. So was his French compatriot August Renoir. Because it was French painters who took the act of formal painting out of stuffy French drawing rooms and studios and into the great outdoors, the art of painting in the open air is called plein air – French for outside.
Painting in the open air became more popular in the mid 1800’s with the invention of transportable paints in tubes and small folding easels. Up until then painters made their own paints using ground color mixtures and linseed oil.
Plein air is enjoying another revival with a hip new moniker – Paint Out and the support of Kitsap north end arts organizations. Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo sponsor Paint Out events to encourage anyone, from professional artist to hopeful beginner to go outside and paint subjects in their community.
At Paint Out events artists must begin and end at a designated time using any paint medium they choose to create a work of art about a subject in their community. And they have to paint rain or shine.
The annual Paint Out Winslow, sponsored by Bainbridge Arts and Crafts is happening this coming weekend, August 13th and 14th in downtown Winslow. Artists will have only 27.5 hours to complete a work of art, beginning at 10 AM on Saturday. The painting must be finished by 1:30 PM on Sunday and delivered to Bainbridge Arts and Crafts for judging with an awards ceremony following at 3:30 PM.
On Saturday and Sunday morning, the public is encouraged to wander, watch the artists at work and, if interested, buy directly from them. Last year’s Paint Out event included paintings done at the marina, Winslow Green, Waterfront Park and along Winslow Way. This year artists are encouraged to consider the coffee shops and restaurants along Parfitt Way, the ferry terminal and museums as subjects.
Interested artists can still sign up and pay the $40 registration fee at the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts website or by calling 206-842-3132.
Poulsbo’s successful inaugural event, Paint Out Poulsbo was held in May. Sponsored by the Peninsula Music and Arts Society, Artists Edge art store in Poulsbo and Northwest College of Art and Design, the event was a combination of timed painting celebrated with music during the all-day May 6th judging at Northwest College of Art and Design.
Poulsbo’s organizers gave artists 96 hours to complete their painting and, because it was co-sponsored by a local art school, the judging included a student category ranging from age 5 to college age.
As guests wandered the exhibit music and dance was provided by the Farragut Brass Band and A’eko Hawaiian musical group. Dates have yet to be set for the 2017 Paint Out Poulsbo but organizers were enthused about the turnout for the first Paint Out and are promising an annual event.
Whether you consider yourself an artist or an appreciator of the arts, watching painters at work is a treat. Catch them in Winslow this weekend. They generally like to chat about their work, but remember, they’re on the clock to get their painting finished.
Sunset magazine calls Bainbridge Island “the Northwest’s newest wine destination.” It’s no wonder the island’s seven wineries drew a sold out crowd for their annual summer weekend bash, Wine on the Rock. Check out my article in the Kitsap Scene here and photos of the day below. I only made it to five of the seven wineries on the day I went, but will be visiting the other two in a few weeks.
Bainbridge Vineyards where we started the tour, picked up our wine glasses and passport to the seven wineries and listened to some folk music. All of the wine produced by this winery comes from grapes grown in their historic Bainbridge Island vineyard.
Perennial Vintners, a small one man & friends operation and the next door neighbor to Bainbridge Vineyards. If you’re a fan of French white wines as I am, this artisan vintner produces some great local variations. Some of the grapes come from Bainbridge Vineyards and the art for the labels of their wines sourced from local grapes is the work of a Port Orchard artist.
Eleven Winery is the brainchild of a former professional bicycle rider whose wine fans toured Wine on the Rock by bike. The Poulsbo tasting room for Eleven closed a few years ago to consolidate the wine-making and tasting operation in a Bainbridge Island industrial park off of Day Road. Wine tasting was accompanied by a terrific country western duo.
Rolling Bay Winery is in a neighborhood and if it feels much like you’re dropping by a friend’s home to visit and have a glass of wine, it’s because you are. The tasting room and patio are located in the winemaker’s yard and if you didn’t know him before you arrived, you will by the time you leave. His grapes come from one of Washington’s oldest vineyard’s on the east side of the state.
Also located in an industrial park (and next to a brewpub) Fletcher Bay Winery has regular wine and music events on Saturdays opening up their doors to a patio that adjoins the brewery patio letting connoisseurs of both wine and beer sip to music.
While commuting Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island most drivers are probably unaware that some of the highway parallels a trail located in a park with the biggest ledum bog in the state. Or that some of the land in the park was once a dairy farm owned by the founder of Port Madison on Bainbridge. Or that the park gate features a rat sculpture.
Meigs Park consists of 120 acres of preserved land, some acquired by the Bainbridge Parks Department and Bainbridge Island Land Trust in 1992 and some under a joint agreement with the Parks Department and City of Bainbridge. Most of the park isn’t accessible because of the fragile nature of the ledum bog but there is a maintained public trail that runs parallel to Highway 305 and a parking area at the corner of Koura Rd. and the highway.
Ledum is a plant whose leaves are used to make Bog Tea. Also known as Indian Tea and the Indian Tea Plant, ledum was used first by local Native American tribes as both tea and for medicine to cure inflammation. The last owner of the property considered building a spa featuring the bog’s water.
Before the land was owned by the parks department and city it was a dairy farm owned by the descendants of George Anson Meigs who built the Port Madison sawmill and founded the community that now exists there. In addition to his Port Madison waterfront holdings, Meigs, began the dairy farm which operated until 1950.
The trail has remnants of its use as a farm. Just off the trail is the ruined shell of an old trailer.
The gate that used to divide the park from the Meigs property is still there along with its decorative and inexplicable rat eating a piece of cheese.
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.
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?
This past week I walked the trail of Bainbridge Island’s Battle Point Park to have a close encounter with the dome shaped building that I’d wondered about while spending hours on the sidelines of my now adult son’s soccer games so often played on the park’s pristine fields.
Like many of the parks in Kitsap County, Battle Point was once the site of a military installation housing World War II structures used to facilitate communications to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The former Transmitter Building has been renovated for use as a building for the island’s Park and Recreation District’s various programs.
The local newspaper, The Bainbridge Review, published an excellent article on the history of Battle Point Park. Its name allegedly comes not from its use by the military but rather from a battle fought between the Suquamish Tribe and Canadian First Nation invaders. It was at this site that U.S. code breakers first intercepted a message indicating Japan was going to bomb Pearl Harbor.
But it was the domed building that piqued my curiosity. The building minus the dome was called the Helix Building and it was part of the military’s complex that was donated to the Bainbridge Island parks by the Navy in 1972. It’s now a planetarium housing a 27.5 inch telescope, the largest public access telescope in the area. How, I wondered did THAT happen?
After the Navy donated the Helix Building to Bainbridge it stood vacant for 21 years until John Rudolph, a local community activist and amateur astronomer proposed turning the building into a planetarium. Along with two other local enthusiasts and eventually a team of volunteers, the building was renovated to create a planetarium and observatory and a telescope was built. The planetarium is named after John Rudolph and the observatory and telescope after Edwin E Ritchie, one of the other early founders.
The Battle Point Astronomical Association was created to insure the building was used for the educational purposes as the founders envisioned. It’s website contains considerable information about classes, children’s activities, the current month’s astronomical events, how to check out smaller telescopes and some amazing celestial photography by Stephen Ruhl.
Finding out about Bainbridge Island’s organized night sky viewing led to more wondering. Where else in Kitsap County could one find enthusiasts? I turned to The Google.
Further south in Bremerton, a group of local astronomy educators have opened the Pacific Planetarium for May through August Friday and Sunday presentations. Their May, 2016 schedule has topics such as Hubble Space Telescope photos, audience suggestion Sundays and an over 18 years of age uncensored Greek and Roman Star Stories presentation.
Also based in Bremerton is the Olympic Astronomical Society. Begun in 1969 by a group of high school students passionate about star gazing, today the organization is open to anyone and it encourages family involvement. It sponsors a variety of activities including monthly meetings, potlucks, star gazing parties at Port Gamble and Hurricane Ridge and its popular Camp Delaney Star Party at Sun Lakes in Eastern Washington.
For anyone wanting a formal educational experience, Olympic College offers an Astronomy Program that prepares students for entry level work in the field. The college’s popular astronomy instructor, David Fong teaches Introduction to Astronomy classes at all three of the college’s campuses in Bremerton, Poulsbo and Shelton. He can sometimes be heard as a guest speaker at local astronomy events. I heard him speak at Bainbridge’s John Rudolph Planetarium and can attest for his enthusiasm for his subject matter. In August, 2015, Olympic College sponsored Astronomy Talks, a series of lectures by nationally known astronomers and Astronomy Slam, short talks about astronomy subjects at art galleries, theatres and pubs in Bremerton. I’m bookmarking those two sites in hopes the college will repeat the events this summer.
What began as a close encounter with a dome shaped building revealed a galaxy of local possibilities for anyone interested in astronomy.
Make it so and you will live long and prosper.