Kitsap Sites On the National Register of Historic Places

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?

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Masonic Hall Port Orchard

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:

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Agate Pass Bridge Suquamish

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?

A Beautiful Day for the Tribal Canoe Journey

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It was a beautiful day for a canoe journey. Standing on the long pier at Suquamish, you could see them as they rounded the point at Jefferson Beach, paddles glistening as they pulled in a rhythmic motion -tiny canoes against the skyline of Seattle and Mt Rainier. Throughout the day on Monday seventy tribal canoes landed on the shores of Suquamish for a two day layover as they make their way to Olympia, the final stop of this year’s Tribal Canoe Journey.

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We’re lucky in Kitsap County – we have two tribal nations who both annually play host to the canoes. It’s about 26 nautical miles between the landing at Suquamish and the previous day’s resting stop hosted by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. In prior years the tired pullers would land on the Suquamish shore and, with a handful of volunteers, hoist their heavy, wooden dugout canoes on their shoulders to walk up the ramp to the lawn in front of the House of Awakened Culture. This year, a group of Navy men and women stationed in Kitsap County volunteered to carry the canoes.

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It was an inspiring sight to watch each canoe stop before landing to ask and be granted permission to come ashore (often in their tribal language) from Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman. Yellow-shirted Navy volunteers then waded into the water, lifted each canoe and carried it uphill passing by the flagpole with the waving flags of the United States and the Suquamish Tribe to the applause of watching spectators. The symbolism of that cooperative effort was heartwarming – the original first peoples of Kitsap County sharing their culture and tradition, getting assistance from young Navy men and women, most just passing through on a tour of duty, to the applause of a crowd of Native and non-Native spectators, all under the flags of two sovereign nations.

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Over the next two days there were evening salmon and clambake meals served by Suquamish tribal members and community volunteers followed by tribal singing, drumming and dancing by the visiting tribes – a tradition that allows the visiting tribes to thank the host tribe for it’s hospitality.

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I went back on the second day to sketch the canoes, every one a work of art sitting on the grounds around the House of Awakened Culture. Each is a dug-out canoe made of trees that are found on each tribe’s land. The style varies by tribe though all have to be seaworthy enough to withstand the open water canoeing of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound. Some are painted, some bear tribal flags and wreathes of cedar branches. Some canoes have made the journey more than once and others are first-timers. The new Makah canoe was carved by students at Neah Bay High School.

It amazes me, the number of local residents I know who’ve never attended the Canoe Journey ceremonies hosted by the Suquamish or Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes because they think they’re not open to the public. They are. You can watch and photograph the canoe arrival and departures, attend the evening dancing and drumming ceremonies and even volunteer to serve food and clean up. The tribes ask that you’re respectful and that you don’t bring or consume alcohol or drugs as the Canoe Journey is a tradition that promotes health and healing for the pullers and the tribes.

 

The African Savannah of Kitsap County

They were still there. Standing like sentinels as though it was the African wetlands. As I waded closer I could see they were both sporting Seahawks gear – a scarf on the giraffe and a sort of Turkish Seahawk fez on the elephant – the 12’s in inanimate animal form. It’s football Sunday in Seattle and likely about the end of the first quarter. I wonder if they can tell me what the score is? But more realistically I wonder, yet again, how they got there -two life size wooden African animals in the bush known as the Clear Creek Trail in Silverdale, Kitsap County.  I’d seen them many times before the torrential fall and winter rain had turned the Clear Creek savannah into a wetlands. It’s a mystery how they got there. Even Google doesn’t have an explanation.

Clear Creek Trail is one my my favorite walking trails in the county. While the entire trail system amounts to seven miles, my favorite section is the northern end. It’s easily accessed just off Viking Way NW (aka Silverdale Way NW)  between Poulsbo and Silverdale and has a habit of nagging me to take 30 minutes to park and walk whenever I drive by.

I love that the changes of the season are on constant display there. When it’s monsoon season as it has been lately, there are parts of the trail side that look like the Louisiana bayous, all dark with submerged signs of civilization. On some days galoshes are required footwear on the main trail. It’s a valley formed in the last ice age 13,000 -15,000 years ago and in that section Clear Creek moves slowly because the watershed is low lying. When it rains heavily the creek overflows its banks.

I also love that the entire trail system is maintained and is being restored by a variety of volunteer organizations including twelve trail adoption groups. Donated to the Great Peninsula Conservancy by the last private owners of the land, it was not until the Clear Creek Task Force was created in 1993 that a vision of how to manage and restore the vast Clear Creek ecosystem was developed. Each time I walk the trail it seems as though a new interpretive sign has been installed or a bench that was an Eagle Scout project.

Restoration is a major undertaking. The valley was originally the fishing and hunting area of the local native Suquamish people who called parts of the current Clear Creek ecosystem, Duwe’iq and Sa’qad. In the 1850’s loggers moved in and clear cut the valley turning lush forest into fertile farmland, but in the process destroying wildlife habitat and resources for the native tribe. The efforts to replant the valley are visible everywhere and today the Suquamish Tribe is part of the Clear Creek Task Force.

HeronWhenever I walk the trails I get to witness the slow healing taking place. Part of that healing process is the return of native animal life like the coho salmon who return to Clear Creek between October and January annually. My favorite encounter occurred two weeks ago as I rounded a turn in the boardwalk and came upon this blue heron. The photo was taken with my cellphone so you can see how close the heron let me creep. We spent five minutes staring at each other (me hoping nobody else would interrupt our special moment) before it spread its magnificent wings, cast me one last glance and took off in the air. I wonder how it co-exists with Kitsap County’s African wildlife?