It’s the kind of business where the same regulars hold court each morning over coffee — a place where you can drop by to pick up a carton of milk and check out the community bulletin board, and find a water bowl pit stop for neighborhood dogs.
The area’s small, historic general stores were built to anchor their communities. It was the logical location for the settlement’s new post office, allowing the mercantile’s owner or spouse, who typically lived on the premises, to serve a dual role as postmaster. The merge made the store the hub for far-flung neighbors to catch up on news while buying flour (6 cents a pound), potatoes (2 cents a pound), bolts of muslin, boots and buttons.
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?
It seems an unusual place for a winery – past the elementary school which has been in existence in one form or another since 1888, beyond the grange hall turned community center, near the infamous property that once held a sanitarium made famous by the book, Starvation Heights. If you come to the Olalla Bridge where the annual New Years Polar Bear Plunge occurs, you’ve gone too far.
Yes, it seems an unusual place for a winery that prides itself on hand making wine using an ancient method originating with the early Greeks and Romans, but the new owners of Olalla Valley Winery are determined to turn the venue into a community gathering place and model for agritourism .
The vineyard and winery opened to the public in 2008 under previous owners Joe and Konnie Serka. When they decided to sell, neophyte vintners, Stuart and Mary Ellen saw the possibilities of combining wine, music, art and community in the vineyard and the tasting room. All summer they’ve been trying out wine tasting plus music on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. On Halloween they plan on hosting their official Grand Opening.
The winery’s flagship wine is a red Golubok made of Russian grapes originating in Ukraine. The vineyard has a new section of Pinot Gris grapes that will (fingers crossed say the owners) be ready for the 2017 crush as will a Malbac and Cabernet Franc.
The enthusiastic owners have regular tasting room hours from noon to 5 on Thursday through Sunday.