Port Gamble Museum: A Hidden Gem

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

MUSEUM FEES:

Adults: $4.00

Students/Seniors/Military: $3.00 

Children six and under free

 MUSEUM HOURS:

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.

Bainbridge: The Holiday Village of Bloedel Reserve

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.

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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.

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Others are scale models of European chateaus and castles set in tiny winter scenes.

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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.

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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.

Not Norwegian? Sons of Norway Still Wants You

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For 25 years I’d walked or driven past Poulsbo’s downtown Sons of Norway Hall always assuming membership required a Norwegian pedigree. I grew up in small town Hettinger, North Dakota – the great granddaughter of German/English immigrants living on a street of Norwegian families. As fellow blogger and Hettingerite,  Jim Fuglie, describes the demographics:  We grew up in Hettinger, North Dakota, where the Germans were Catholic and the Norwegians were Lutheran. For the most part. Catholics were named Schmidt and Nagel and Slater and Seifert and Schmaltz. Lutherans were named Braaten and Strand and Nordahl and Lundahl and Austad. While the German and Norwegian parents played pinochle in each other’s homes and their children mingled at school, the institutions that celebrated their respective heritages required heritage.

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Though never stepping inside the Sons of Norway doors, I’d regularly participated in  their public community events – the all day Julefest which includes the arrival of the Lucia Bride at the waterfront park in December; Viking Days which celebrates Norway’s independence and Midsommer Fest, the raising of the maypole ceremony at waterfront park in May. In fact, the Sons of Norway sponsor a variety of monthly events open to the public including concerts, pancake breakfasts and dance workshops.

This summer I joined the lodge’s president for their weekly Wednesday Kaffe Stua, a buffet lunch also open to the public. Imagine my surprise when over my open face salmon sandwich he informed me that one doesn’t need an ounce of Norwegian blood to join. So join I did. Primarily because a membership allows me to stay at Trollhaugen, the lodge’s rustic mountain lodge on the eastern side of Snoqualmie Pass where I can snowshoe, cross country ski and read by the fireplace.

This past Saturday was the Sons of Norway’s annual Julefest and for the first time I took in the day’s activities as a newly minted member of the Sons of Norway. I wandered into the lodge for the all day brunch and craft bazaar where I watched the children’s dance group; strolled past tables of decorative folk art called rosemaling (classes available at the lodge), the wool and straw Christmas ornaments and hand carved wooden kitchen utensils and sampled lefse which brought back olfactory memories of the Hettinger bakery and its Christmas lefse.  The day was mild enough that out on Poulsbo’s main street, there were people in their lusekofte – the distinctively patterned Norwegian wool sweaters and I heard entire Norwegian conversations in the Nordic Maid – Poulsbo’s store for all things Scandinavian.

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Every year as darkness falls the Julefest celebration moves to the waterfront for the coming of the Lucia Bride, a Scandinavian tradition. Escorted by Vikings she lights the Jule log that begins the bonfire and turns on the waterfront Christmas tree lights. Stories are told. Songs are song. The crowd of residents and visitors become part of a tradition that came to our town on the bay with the early Norwegian and Swedish immigrants.

While the holiday season began in the malls right after Halloween, for me – the faux Norwegian great granddaughter of German and English immigrants, Julefest signals the real beginning of the holiday season.

Poulsbo’s Fish Park Sans Fish

Four days of downpour. Its the season of the return of the salmon and while I’m weary of the deluge, the salmon are not. Rain helps their journey. It fills the streams, cleans them of chemicals and makes the water colder, all preferred travel conditions for their annual fall migration home.

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Poulsbo’s aptly named Fish Park can provide prime viewing of the salmon return. But this year, though I’ve walked its trails peering into Dogfish Creek twice after a rainstorm , I haven’t seen  a single salmon. Nada. In part that’s because this 40 acre urban park surrounding an estuary is evolving into prime wildlife and salmon habitat as was the park’s plan. I’m a visitor but the park is home to the returning salmon. Much like I don’t get to peer into closets when I drop by a friend’s for coffee, the growth of native trees and plants planted along Dogfish Creek since the park was created, shelters the fish from prying eyes. That’s why the park’s viewing platforms.

The Fish Park project began in 2002; a cooperative venture between the City of Poulsbo, the Suquamish Tribe, the Great Peninsula Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and family trusts who donated the property. The trails, bridges, viewpoints, sculptures are all the work of volunteer groups and individuals.

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Each time I visit the park I find a new interpretive sign providing both historical and scientific information.

Since October, 2014 Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment in Poulsbo has used Fish Park as a lab, monitoring the data and the new plants. The Poulsbo Fish Park Citizens Steering Committee works diligently on future planning, fundraising for more land acquisition and volunteer recruitment.

Olalla’s Winery and Vineyard

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.

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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.

 

 

Paint Out Winslow & Poulsbo

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Wine On The Rock: Bainbridge Island

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.