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Port Orchard: We’re still going strong after 125 years H

appy birthday to Port Orchard — 125 years! And we are still making memories. Being a newcomer to Port Orchard in 1988, and then being asked to chair the Centennial for the city a year later, was very much an honor. And yet, now, here I am 25 years later, chairing yet another historic event for our city, the 125th anniversary. I learned many things about Port Orchard, got connected with wonderful people, and have built many relationship throughout our fine town over the last 25 years. I wish I could say that I know I will be here in Sharron King another 25 years at the 150th celebration to see the Centennial Time Capsule opened. However, just in case, I do have a handwritten letter in the time capsule. Opening that capsule will be so fun

and you might even wonder, “Gosh, why did they put that in there,” or “Hey, isn’t this just cool?” The leap in technology from 1989 into 1990 was pretty astronomical, yet imagine yet another 50-year leap? Mind blowing for sure. We all have seen the ebb and flow of businesses in downtown Port Orchard and I keep hoping that this little town will truly become a destination place where businesses can thrive and people will walk down our sidewalks to explore all there is to see. We have a magnificent marina and waterfront park where people hustle in and Contributed photo out enjoying all there is. We have some really great events in Port Orchard and my hope is that the next generation will step up to carry on the tradition of those events… please keep them alive and develop new events, too. My wish for Port Orchard is for it

The 125th Anniversary – Celebrate Port Orchard Committee Sharron King, Brandy Rinearson, Pam Heinrich, Chris Stansbery, Bryan Petro, Bobbie Stewart, Matthew Murphy, Kathleen Wilson, Jessie Turner, Janis Maracic, Leslie Burnett, Bobbie Weatherill, Terry Bontrager, Mike and Debbi Smith, Michele Schmittler-Wilson, Ken Bicha, Mike and Debbie Smith, Mike Foust, Phil Groff, Fred Chang and Tim Matthes.

to continue to become the magnificent little town on Sinclair Inlet with a big heart that welcomes everyone. Please come out for the big celebration on Saturday, Sept. 5, and support YOUR town! God bless America. God bless Port Orchard! — Sharron King, chairwoman, the 125th Anniversary celebration of the founding of Port Orchard

About the cover:

This photo was taken in the late 1930s, looking east down Bay Street. Caldwell’s Trading Post, on the left, later moved across the street to where Vlist Motors is today. The truck in the middle of the street, with a kitchen range in the bed of the truck, appears to have a flat left front tire. Cars in the foreground were parked in front of Ainsworth’s Grocery. A Shurfine grocery delivery truck was making its way down the street. The storefront at

far right was Modern Plumbing Supply & Sheet Metal, and later became the Soo Hoy Cafe, the only Asian restaurant in Port Orchard until about the 1970s. Sidewalks were still partly made of wood. And Puget Sound Power & Light had an office in Port Orchard since the early days of electricity. (Photo from the Kitsap Historical Museum; information courtesy of George Willock)

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Celebrating 125 years of local connections We’re proud to be a part of the Port Orchard community. Here at Wave, we take pride in providing the best internet, TV and phone services to keep our customers happily connected. We’re also proud to be a part of the Port Orchard community, and our employees are dedicated to the local initiatives that are important to the residents and businesses that live here. We’ll continue to support this community, year after year, with every connection that we make.

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A river ran through it... M

y first recollection of Port Orchard some 45 years ago was sitting in the office of Larr y Curles, the city engineer. His office was located in the basement of the old City Hall. The fact that both city halls are built on the same spot is the only thing that the two buildings had Contributed Photo in comMayor Tim Matthes mon. To describe the old City Hall as being in bad shape was an understatement. I had just purchased an older duplex on Dwight Street across from South Kitsap High School. I had many questions about what I could do to fix it up. As you can imagine, in the next six months I spent many hours in Curles’ office asking rookie questions to a ver y patient and helpful city engineer. On my first visit to his office at City Hall, I was surprised at what I found. I sat in front of his desk, awaiting his return from some other tasks in the building. It was hard not to notice a river of water running under the desk and meandering through the office, seeking the freedom of the parking lot. I remember moving the chair to keep my feet out of the water, allowing it an unobstructed path out of the office. When he returned, he did not seem to notice the water, and in a short time, I didn’t notice it either. Without the characters I met when I first came to Port Orchard, I doubt that I would have decided to make it my home for life. One of them was Shorty Could, owner of Could Sheet Metal. He was kind and helpful whenever I needed advice about heating or cooling equipment, sheet metal, or life’s problems. I remember Bob Price of Westbay Auto Parts and met him one day when he was working the counter. He was helping me get the right parts for a carburetor that I was rebuilding.

When it was time to pay, he tried to find a reason to give me a discount. He asked me about possible connections I might have to a long list of organizations and associations that might qualify me for a Westbay discount. When he asked if I was a volunteer firefighter, I said no, but my dad was in the Navy yard fire department. He looked ver y happy and promptly declared that I qualified for the firefighter’s discount. I know for a fact that Bob was going to find me a discount if it took him all day. I will never forget Mel Lovik, owner of Mel and Harr y’s Coast to Coast Store. I raised beef cattle in South Kitsap. Mel was instrumental in teaching me the ways of ranching, and all the things I needed to know about farm equipment and fencing and you name it. Last, but not least, was Frosty Adkins at Peninsula Feed Store. He was instrumental in helping me understand the importance of proper feed to keep my herd healthy and in good condition.

These Port Orchard business people were the most helpful, honest, and memorable ambassadors our city could ask for. Today, we have grown, but the feel of our community has remained as friendly as I remember it so many years ago. In my opinion, Port Orchard was the, and still is, a place where it is not business as usual. It is personal. Happy Birthday, Port Orchard! And if God grants us 125 more years as a town, I hope that we never forget who we are, and why we are here. — Mayor Tim Matthes




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Port Orchard 125th Anniversary Celebration Guide is a special publication of Sound Publishing. For information about upcoming special publications, call 360-779-4464.

Publisher: Lori Maxim Specialty publications editor: Leslie Kelly Writer: Leslie Kelly Timeline: Brian Kelly Advertising director: Donna Etchey Sales representative: Sharon Allen, Ariel Naumann Production manager: Bryon Kempf Production artists: Kelsey Thomas, Mark Gillespie, John Rodriguez, Vanessa Calverley Sound Publishing would like to thank the Kitsap Historical Museum for loaning copies of their historic photographs for this section.


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‘Then and Now’ photos tell of Port Orchard’s growth

Kitsap Historical Museum photo

Leslie Kelly / staff photo

The Sidney Hotel and Kitsap County Bank, as seen in 1922 at Bay Street and Sidney Avenue. Kitsap Bank is the oldest locally owned bank in the state.

The corner of Bay Street, looking up the hill along Sidney looks very different today. The Sidney Hotel burnt to the ground in the 1980s and Kitsap Bank moved to its current site.

Bryan Petro Loves Port Orchard After over 35 years of business, Woodside Animal Hospital is glad to be apart of the celebration for the 125th birthday of Port Orchard. All of us at Woodside cannot believe that we have the honor of celebrating this milestone birthday! A lot has changed over the years and we are excited to see what the future brings for the community and for our own clinic. With our clinic adding more exam rooms, a custom cat exam room, exclusively for cats ward, upgrades to accommodate dogs, and growing our team of doctors and staff, we can only imagine what the future has in store for Port Orchard as a whole!

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Just call him ‘Mr. History’ because he knows it all Petro is known for telling great stories that make Port Orchard’s history come to life By LESLIE KELLY


f you ask around Port Orchard who knows the city’s history, you’ll get one answer. Bryan Petro. Petro, often called “Mr. History,” has lived his entire life in Port Orchard. As a real estate broker, he’s had an interest in the history of his town since he was a boy. “When I was a little kid, my grandfather would tell me stories of how it was years ago,” said Petro. “When I got older, I had a paper route and a Fuller Brush route downtown. I knew all the merchants and they’d tell me stories. “After I got my learner’s (driving) permit, I got a route out on Sidney Avenue and my grandfather would go with me. We’d drive all over South Kitsap County and he’d tell me how it used to be.” With the city’s 125th anniversary pending, Petro’s digging into all of his historic memorabilia. Old photos. Old newspapers. And stories. “I’ve just collected things over time,” he said. “I’ve been active in local theater. So I combined them and began giving talks about local history.” Petro and Christine Stansbery, another history enthusiast, have spent hours sifting through the old photos and newspapers, some stored in Petro’s office and some in the basement of the city’s Log Cabin Museum. They’re planning to exhibit items during the celebration at the city’s Pavilion. Petro likes to quote an old saying, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it usually rhymes.” “I’m not sure who said it, but it’s true. If you known what happened before, you can make better decisions now,” Petro said. One of the reasons he’s collected history is that he’s afraid it will be lost. “I worry sometimes that the young people today aren’t interested in history,” he said. “It’s times like this when

Bryan Petro, right, and Christine Stansbery look through copies of old Port Orchard Leslie Kelly photo Independent newspapers in preparation for the anniversary exhibit. we can show them the importance of history.” Mention an event, a date, or a factoid about Port Orchard, and Petro can fill in the details. “Don’t get me going unless you’ve got a couple hours,” he said. “I can get distracted.” An example: the story of Edward and Asahel Curtis, brothers who were photographers in Port Orchard around 1910. “They were pioneer photographers,” Petro said. “They were famous for their photographs of the Cascade Mountains.” With a grant from the Carnegie family, they took many of the most famous photos of western Washington in the teens and 1920s, he said. They both were born in what was then Sidney. And they were credited with inventing a gold tint photograph process used in the day. And then there was “Pete the Painter.” “He was born in Norway as Pedar Storseth,” said Petro. “He was a muralist trained in Norway who painted for royalty.” As the story goes he came from a family with little money and when he came to the United States, he had no money and began painting for room and board. He made his way to Poulsbo, and then in 1917, south to Sidney (now Port Orchard). “Talented people usually have a

demon or two to contend with — usually booze, and Pete was no exception,” Petro said. “He would trade paintings for booze and food. Many families in the county have his works. I have two of them.” Petro said A.T. Moen, the first pastor of the First Lutheran Church, let Storseth stay in the church when he was homeless as long as he did not drink there. In return, Storseth painted the mural of Jesus walking on water. “It was something to see for sure,” he said. “When I was a kid my family sat in the balcony and I would elbow my mother and ask ‘Is that a picture of God?’ She would say ‘No, that’s Jesus.’ I didn’t understand the difference then.” The mural is visible inside the church, today, although at times it has been painted over. Pete was known around town as “Pete the Painter,” Petro said. “Old-timers have told me his paintings were in shop windows throughout town,” he said. Pete spent his career doing murals all over town -— at the VFW and at President’s Hall at the fairgrounds — but he couldn’t stop drinking, Petro said. He died in 1965 with no family and no money. Petro is trying to find more of Storseth’s work, and also plans to exhibit them during the Sept. 5 anniversary celebration at the city’s

Pavilion. Petro also knows the stories of how the town came to be. And he can quote them. Like the story of how Sidney got the Navy shipyards. “A man named (Lt. Ambrose) Wyckoff came out from Washington D.C. and found 200 acres for $50 an acre,” he said. “Wyckoff went back to D.C. to get the money and when he came back they told him the property was now $100 an acre. Mr. William Bremer, who Bremerton was named for, bought an option on the property in the meantime, which sent the price up. Wyckoff didn’t have the money. There was quite a brawl. They had a big meeting and Sidney was able to make a deal with the Navy department to get the shipyard.” Petro said when the town of Sidney was founded, there were four goals: get the Navy shipyard, be the county seat, get the soldiers’ retirement home awarded to the town, and dam Black Jack Creek for hydro power. “They got three out of four,” Petro said. “They never got the creek dammed.” One of Petro’s favorite stories is that of how Sidney got the county seat, when Bremerton wanted it. “The state said there had to be a vote,” he said. “So Sidney organized an election. The ballot said ‘Sidney should be the county seat.’ And then the town leaders went around and had people check ‘yes.’ ” Later, the ballot was called into question, but by then, Sidney had built a county courthouse and had “stolen” all the county records from the former courthouse, and that sealed the deal, Petro said. “It’s that kind of thinking that has kept Port Orchard going all these years,” he said. “We are independent and we don’t let anything stop us.” Another example of that, he said, was when the owner of a department store downtown Port Orchard painted her store the same color as the new JC Penney store in downtown Bremerton. “People from Shelton driving up here saw it and thought they were shopping at Penney’s,” he said. Petro wants to hear from anyone who has one of Pete’s murals, or just to hear a story about Port Orchard. Contact him at 360-621-7219.




Marbles tournament expects to draw a big crowd By LESLIE KELLY


ark Fessenden remembers playing marbles when he was a young boy, some 50 years ago. So imagine his surprise when, as a member of the Saints Car Club, he was told that the club was going to sponsor a marbles tournament during the celebration of Port Orchard’s 125th anniversary. “I didn’t think they were serious,” Fessenden said. “I remembered playing marbles as a kid. But my kids never did, and most kids nowadays all have cell phones in their hands, not marbles.” But with some organization, and the help of the Port Orchard Library and MegaFun USA, a maker of marbles, it’s all a “go.” Fessenden discovered playing marbles today is quite different from when he was a boy. “We use to take a stick and draw a circle in the dirt,” he said. “If you knocked the other guy’s marble out of the circle with your marble, you got to keep his marble. “But now, there’s two pages of rules to the game. They’ve taken something that was simple and it’s become a professional sport.” Although the tournament in Port Orchard is not a sanctioned tournament, car club members are hoping that children of all ages will show up at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Port Orchard Library, 87 Sidney Ave., to try marbles. Prizes will be awarded. Throughout the summer, the library has been giving kids marbles as part of its summer reading program. When a child reached his or her reading goal, he or she would get a bag of marbles to practice for the tournament. The Mega-Marbles were donated to the program from MegaFun USA, a marble company in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. According to Jennifer Walker, spokeswoman for the company, they’ve been making marbles for 90 years. Most were made in Mexico, until about 1992, when production and distribution came back to the U.S. “We do try to help out any tournaments in the U.S. by giving out marbles,” Walker said. “We like to support bring back visibility to marbles.” It was in the early 1990s that the company saw a rebirth in the sales of marbles. “People were coming back to the clas-

Marbles are expected to be a big part of the festivities on Saturday, Sept. 5 when an oldfashioned marbles tournament will begin at 11 a.m. at the Port Orchard Library. Contributed photo sic games, like marbles,” she said. And our sales have increased steadily since then.” According to the National Retail Association, sales of marbles in toy stores have increased by 40 percent in the last decade. And there’s been a renaissance of hand made contemporary marbles, handcrafted by modern glassmakers. Marbles have been in existence for the past 3,000 years. They have been found in Egyptian pyramids and in North American Indian mounds. An annual marble tournament has been played in Tinsley Green, England on Good Friday for at least the past 300 years. And the United States National Marbles Tournament is the third weekend of June in Wildwood, New Jersey. The first marbles were round stones, nuts or fired pieces of clay and pottery. Glass marbles were introduced about 1860. Almost all antique handmade glass marbles were produced in Germany from the period 1860 to 1920. Stone marbles were produced in Germany in the early 1800s. In 1905, Martin F. Christensen of Akron, Ohio used a machine to produce “perfectly round spheres.” By the mid-1920s, the Germans were effectively out of the marble-making business. Almost all marbles were made by machine in the United States. Large marble makers of the time began to compete with each other to produce more unique designs and more colorful marbles each season.

By World War II, Master Marble Company and Vitro Agate Company entered the marble market. Akro Agate Company failed in 1951 and Vitro Agate Company and Marble King became the largest U.S. manufacturers, but faced stiff competition from Japanese imports of cats eyes. By the 1960s, virtually all marbles were made in the Far East. During the 1970s, marble playing saw a steady decline, as video games became more popular and readily available. Marble making shifted to Mexico, with Vacor de Mexico becoming the largest marble manufacturer. Then in the 1980s, marbles made a resurgence in the U.S. and there was a return of hand-made marble making by a few American craftsmen. The first official marbles tournament in the U.S. was in 1922, at Jersey City, New Jersey. It was sponsored by the city’s parks department. The 92nd anniversary of the National Marbles Tournament will take place on June 20, 2016, in Wildwood, New Jersey. Fessenden said the Saints Car Club is sponsoring this event because of its great relationship with the city of Port Orchard. “The city does a lot of us,” he said. “They always make sure we have what we need when we have our car shows. This is our way of giving back.” The American Marble Tournament was first organized in 1990 and was originally known as the Mountaineer Marble

Tournament. Based in West Virginia, the tournament was formed with the idea that adults who have fond memories of playing marbles in their childhood should pass the fun onto their own children. The children who compete in this marble tournament are the winners of other, smaller tournaments that have been sanctioned by the American Marble Tournament. Any marble tournament that wishes to be sanctioned must meet various requirements, such having at least 100 participants, having a division for both boys and girls, not charging an entry fee, and the players must be under the age of 14. The Mountain Man Marble Tournament, also based in West Virginia, is an example of a smaller tournament that qualifies players for the American Marble Tournament. Even though it is a qualifying tournament, it is well known in its own right. Usually held over Labor Day weekend, the tournament uses Ringer as its official game. Players enter into either the standard mountain man division or the jubilee, which is reserved for those who finished high in the previous American Marbles Tournament. The oldest and probably most prestigious of the tournaments is the National Marbles Tournament, which is held in Wildwood, New Jersey, in June. First held in 1922, it is run by a group of volunteers from around the country who all have a common interest in, and love of, the game. Each year, the mibsters (marbles shooters) who were the winners of local and regional tournaments, meet over the course of four days and pit their skills against the best of the best. Winners receive scholarships, various prizes and awards, and of course the distinction of national honors. More than 1,200 games are played during the National Marbles Championships which, like most tournaments, uses Ringer as its official game. In addition to the competition, the mibsters also enjoy the fun amusement park atmosphere of the Jersey boardwalk. What all of these marble tournaments share is a love for the game, and a simple wish to take the joys of childhood and pass them onto the next generation. Be sure to participate in the marbles tournament that will be part of the 125th anniversary celebration of Port Orchard. To find out more, or to register, go to




Former mayor Weatherill recalls life in Port Orchard


ort Orchard has been my home since I was a young child and it was very different then — more rural in flavor and more peaceful, or so it seemed. Many of my days and hours as a youngster were spent fishing in Blackjack Creek, playing baseball in Little League or swimming in Long Lake. After graduating from South Kitsap High School, I moved to California where I Contributed Photo was drafted into the Jay Weatherill U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. While stationed at Fort Ord Army Hospital, I met my wife, Bobbie. We were married in 1966, moved back to Port

Orchard in 1967, and we have many great memories of raising our family, forming strong friendships, and serving our community. I was a member of the Jaycees in the late 1960s and early 1970s and served as state vice president in 1970-71. I also served as a volunteer fireman on the Port Orchard Fire Department for more than 30 years, a duty that carried over from my high school days when Ken Hacker was fire chief. Later on, I was working with my dad, who became the city’s fire chief after retiring from the shipyard. I became a member of the Port Orchard Rotary Club in 1974 and served there for more than 20 years, later becoming a member of the South Kitsap Rotary Noon Club, as the demands of my business became more pressing, and early morning meetings were a bit more difficult. There was still time for fun and we enjoyed skiing and trips on the ski bus, playing tennis, racquet ball, golf, fishing and hunting, camping with the kids and lots of social time with family and friends. Most of all, recognition of the importance of the Creator is a necessary part of our

lives. God has blessed us, and our town, so much. The people of Port Orchard elected me as their mayor in 1983 and honored me with four more terms. I served in that capacity until 2004. What a great experience! Working with city, county and state officials to bring about many positive changes for the city was exciting and rewarding. Several of my fond hopes and dreams for Port Orchard were fulfilled during those years, including the new and improved sewage treatment plant, the Tremont Fire Station, the bypass over Blackjack Creek, our beautiful new City Hall, and the area’s very first traffic round-about. Speaking of the Blackjack bypass, it was truly a blessing because there was only one main route in and out of Port Orchard until the bypass was completed, and that was along Ross Point. Traffic congestion in town was the rule during rush hours before and after work. And as for Ross Point, later on, we negotiated with U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks for a federal grant to repair the hillside along that stretch of highway following several significant land-

slides. We incorporated much of Mile Hill and several other areas into the city limits, and began talks to bring McCormick Woods into the city after we extended water and sewer lines into the development in the late 1990s. Some of the businesses that were landmarks along Bay Street and that evoke fond memories were Blanchard’s Department Store, Hannah and Powell’s drug store, Port Orchard Clinic (Drs. Merley and Mountford), Howe Hardware, Smith’s Coffee Shop, Myhre’s Restaurant (a morning meeting place for some of the “old timers”), the Port Orchard Independent and Ace Comstock as editor, Weinbrenner’s Grocery, Parks Furniture and “Heck” Heckel, Forget-Me-Not florist — all gone but never forgotten. Port Orchard has changed in major — and impactful — ways since my young years here, and I’m pleased and proud to have had a part in many of the changes. So here’s to you, Port Orchard, my home town. Happy 125th anniversary. May God bless you! — Jay Weatherill, Port Orchard

Happy 125th Port Orchard

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Events schedule: Pick out what you want to do and see Saturday, Sept. 5

• 11 a.m. to noon: Tour City Hall with Mayor Matthes; tour Carlisle II at ferry terminal.

• 8-9:45 a.m.: Pancake breakfast provided by South Kitsap Fire & Rescue Volunteer Association, along Prospect Street outside City Hall; cost $5.

• 11 a.m.: Kids and Seniors Marbles Tournament at the library, sponsored by the Saints Car Club and the Port Orchard Library.

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Port Orchard Farmers Market will be open near the waterfront park. • 10 a.m.: Opening ceremony at City Hall with the JROTC Color Guard, drill teams, guest speakers and the singing of the National Anthem. • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Antique/Classic Car Show sponsored by the Saints Car Club at Kitsap Bank parking lot. • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Food and beverages sold at the Kitsap Bank drive-thru lot by Port Orchard Lions. • 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Weavers and spinners at Port Orchard Pavilion.

Leslie Kelly / staff photo

• 2-4 p.m.: Peninsula Square Dance Council at Gazebo.

Known for its water views, the Port Orchard Marina is a favorite spot. • 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Peter Storseth art show and historical display at Pavilion.

• 2-5 p.m.: Art walk downtown along Bay Street.

• 4:15-4:45 p.m.: “Patriotic Music Tribute”

by Joni Clark and Jonathan Reed. • 5 p.m.: Port Orchard Library coloring contest closes. Submissions are due at the library. • 5 p.m-5:30 p.m.: Closing ceremony at the location of the farmers market with announcement of the marbles tournament winners, performance by SIPO Singers, and cake will be served. • 6-8 p.m.: Fun Family and Kid Friendly Street Dance sponsored by Port Orchard Rotary at Gazebo. • 5-8 p.m.: Food and beverage by Port Orchard Lions at Gazebo.

• From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., free shuttle service will be provided by Kitsap Airporter, with the following stops: from the Kitsap County Court House to DeKalb Pier; Port Orchard Armory to South Kitsap High School on Mitchell; then to Peninsula Feed. Parking will be available at these sites.

Kitsap Property Management, Inc.



Established in 1985, Kitsap Property Management first opened its doors in Port Orchard to serve the rental needs of local residents. Now family owned and operated, our business has expanded to provide service to rental properties in Bremerton, Silverdale, Poulsbo, Kingston and Bainbridge Island. Although we are growing, we have not compromised the quality of service we strive to maintain. We have a dedicated staff of employees that work hard to sustain a valuable relationship with each and every owner of the rental properties we manage, as well as with our tenants. We are proud to be a thriving business in this wonderful growing community.

Congratulations to the City of Port Orchard on its 125th birthday!






1792 Suquamish, Skokomish and S’Klallam peoples live in the area.

1854 Captain William Renton opens first mill in South Kitsap.

1886 Frederick Stevens plats Sidney, naming the new town after his father. The first newspaper, The Kitsap County Pioneer, is founded.

The Kitsap County Pioneer. Photo courtesy of Kitsap Historical Museum

1890 Sidney incorporates as a town on Sept. 15.

John Melcher founded the Sidney Pottery Works in 1890. The four-story building was equipped with several kilns and turned out high quality brick, drain tile, sewer pipe and crockery. Photo courtesy of Kitsap Historical Museum

From Sidney to Port Orchard: 125 years of history By LESLIE KELLY

In the beginning… Port Orchard was platted as Sidney in 1886 by Frederick Stevens, who wanted to name the town after his father, Sidney Merrill Stevens. He chose a site on the southern shore of the Sinclair Inlet, part of Port Orchard Bay. Sidney quickly became known for its lumber industry, pottery works, small businesses, and agricultural opportunities. In 1890, it became the first town to incorporate in Kitsap County. Sidney residents took an active role in bringing the Puget Sound Naval Station (later Puget Sound Naval Shipyard) to Kitsap County. The Navy employed many residents of Port Orchard and greater Kitsap County from the turn of the century onward, and became the most important employer in the county. In 1893, after building a courthouse and donating it to the county, Sidney was chosen as county seat. From 1892 to 1903, Sidney entered into stiff competition with Charleston, across the bay, over which city could

Bay Street from the north. The waters of Sinclair Inlet lapped under businesses on the Photo courtesy of Kitsap Historical Museum north side of Bay Street in the 1930s, before it was filled. be named Port Orchard. Sidney won. After 1903, Port Orchard continued to grow due to the expansion of the naval yard during the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, and the 1960s, and due to Port Orchard’s reputation as a quiet waterfront community located in a beautiful environment and close to Seattle.

In fall 1890, after rapid growth during the previous year, Sidney’s population became large enough to petition for incorporation. On Sept. 15, 1890, Sidney was incorporated as a fourth-class city. The first mayor was Ira C. Rockwell, who served until December 1890. E.M. Taylor served as city clerk. Alfred Larson,

D. R. Mackintosh, J. H. Cline, A. W. Robinson, and Thomas R. Kendall served on Sidney’s first council. The mayor and council sought to address the issue of Sidney’s lack of streets. Since so many people traveled by boat, the roads in and around the town were never adequately developed. For example, Bay Street, the town’s main thoroughfare, was “inundated by saltwater” each high tide (Kitsap County History). The second problem the officials wanted to tackle was to connect each of Sidney’s three parts, since Pottery Creek and Black Jack Creek naturally divided the town. In order to fund Sidney’s first public works projects, Sidney officials instituted an annual license fee for the town’s saloons, as well as a poll tax on each adult male resident. The first project funded by the newly incorporated town was a grading project on Sidney Hill. The dirt collected from the hill then was then filled in an area 16 feet wide and a few blocks long to level and improve road conditions downtown. Projects taken on by later mayors and SEE HISTORY, PAGE 12






The Navy Department Shipyard is secured, bringing employment to the area.

1893 Voters agree to move the county seat from Port Madison to Sidney and change the name to Port Orchard.

A major fire in downtown levels businesses, including the pottery works factory and a shingle mill.

A logging crew from Stiles Timber Company of Port Orchard is shown harvesting old growth Douglas fir and cedar logs in the late 1890s. Photo courtesy of Kitsap Historical Museum

Legislature finally agrees to change the name of Sidney to Port Orchard.

1908 First telephone service comes to Port Orchard. Herd Laws are passed, banning cows from the city’s main streets from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

for a new city hall, human remains were found, along with shells and other items. They were determined to be Native American; advisers from the Suquamish Tribe presided over the dig and took possession of the remains and artifacts, thought to be more than 5,000 years old.


councils included more grading, the filling of a salt marsh, the construction of the Black Jack Bridge, and the Toonerville Trolley Railroad. Town officials also bought lots near Black Jack Creek as a site for a water works pumping station as well as a power and light plant. However, early contracts to build water dams and early franchises to electric light companies failed or fell through.

Growth was all around …

Those who came before… Though Kitsap County had long been the home of the Suquamish, Skokomish, and, to some extent, S’Klallam peoples, Port Orchard Bay was “discovered” and named during British Royal Naval Capt. George Vancouver’s exploration of the Puget Sound in April and May 1792. While investigating Kitsap County, Vancouver had judged an entrance to the vast Port Orchard Bay to be a small cove with an island. After returning from a brief shore leave, Harry Masterman Orchard, a ship’s clerk on the Discovery and a surveyor, notified Vancouver that the area was actually an entrance to a large natural harbor. Vancouver corrected the error and named the harbor Port Orchard Bay. In the 1850s, Capt. William Renton and other lumber and shipping merchants began developing Western Washington’s lumber industry in response to demand for lumber in San Francisco. Kitsap County proved an excellent site for lumber due to its spruce, cedar, hemlock, and Doug-fir forests that grew right up to Kitsap’s extensive coastline. Thus, in 1854,


An Independence Day parade down Bay Street in the late 1920s. At the time, the street Photo courtesy of Kitsap Historical Museum was unpaved. The city has a tradition of July 4th parades. Renton opened Port Orchard’s first mill. Though Renton sold the mill in 1862, the area remained an attractive spot for lumber merchants and loggers. Despite a healthy lumber industry, Sinclair Inlet, the site of Sidney (Port Orchard), did not have a permanent resident until 1885, when Henry Cline and family members moved from Long Lake to Mitchell Point on the Sinclair Inlet. In 1886, Stevens, a relative of the Cline family, platted Sidney after his father, purchasing 88.5 acres for the creation of a town. Henry Cline opened the town’s first store to serve the growing community. In 1887, he joined in on a fishing venture and constructed a smokehouse. In 1888, Cline secured a post office for Sidney and served as its first postmaster. In August 1886, Thomas Cline, a relative of Henry’s who had followed the family to Sidney, founded Kitsap County’s first newspaper, The

Kitsap County Pioneer. Shortly after starting the paper, he sold it to his typesetter and “man of the shop,” Adrian Sroufe. In 1889, Thomas Cline built the town’s first wharf, which further increased the growth of the town’s population. The wharf gave boats a place to dock, making the transportation of goods and people into Sidney much easier. In earlier years, settlers had had to use rowboats and force their livestock to swim for shore. The wharf coincided with the rise of the “Mosquito Fleet.” These private steam vessels serving Puget Sound were so numerous that they were said to resemble a swarm of mosquitoes. Mosquito Fleet vessels that traveled among Kitsap County towns and to and from Seattle and Tacoma became the chief form of transportation for Sidney residents. Note: In 1998, as the old city hall was being torn down to make way

The legislature in 1908 appropriated funds for a veterans home in Port Orchard, which still stands today on Retsil. Port Orchard’s first water system was on Black Jack Creek in 1911. During the 1920s, it was converted to artesian system for more and better water. Electric lights arrived in 1912. The rate maximum was $1 a month for each 16 candle power light. By 1915, Port Orchard had 266 telephones. By the 1920s, diesel-electric ferries from San Francisco replaced the much smaller steamship ferries. Today those privately owned ferries have been replaced in turn by staterun ferries, which to this day play an important role in the transportation of Port Orchard residents. The Cline family was not the only family responsible for the town’s early development. A 1901 promotional business review printed by the Port Orchard Independent listed all the early Sidney businesses and commended its business owners for being a “people with pluck and determination.” Not long after the opening of Henry Cline’s store, C.W. Corbett opened the Corbett Drugstore. From 1887 to 1889, Sidney was known for its Port Orchard Brick and Tile Company, as well as a few small lumber and shingle mills. And in early 1890, John Melcher, a pottery craftsSEE HISTORY, PAGE 13





Municipal water is acquired for residents.

Battleships can be seen off the city’s Central Dock as the military presence near Port Orchard grows. Photo courtesy of Kitsap Historical Museum


1922 The original South Kitsap High School is built.



First movie theater opens in Port Orchard.

Mayor Frank Givens elected. Soon after, compulsory garbage pickup is initiated by the city council and the city adds sewers.


man, opened a large pottery works, which made sewer pipes, terra cotta ware, and provided Seattle with brick for its first paved street. It remained a prominent business in Sidney until it and Sidney’s entire business district burned down in 1895. Though Sidney attracted residents thanks to its businesses, timber, and land for agriculture, it was perhaps the promise of the Puget Sound Naval Station, to be located one mile across Sinclair Inlet, that created most of the excitement about Sidney. In 1877, the U.S. government decided to build a naval shipyard somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Later in the year, Navy Lt. Ambrose Barkley Wyckoff made a hydrographic survey of the Puget Sound and Commencement Bay and reported that the new naval installation should be in the Puget Sound. In 1888, Congress funded a commission of three naval officers to find a site for the shipyard in the Puget Sound. A group of Sidney residents led by Adrian Sroufe, then the editor of The Kitsap County Pioneer, passionately advocated for Sinclair Inlet as the ideal location for the Puget Sound Naval Station. The commission agreed, but a second commission was appointed to affirm their recommendation in 1889. In December 1890, three months after Sidney’s incorporation the second commission gave a final report to Congress, recommending the site near Sidney. And finally in March 1891, Congress appropriated $10,000 to acquire land for the naval station. Though at the time of their incorporation, Sidney residents did

A 1926 photograph of the Retsil State Veterans Home, which was built in Port Orchard and Photo courtesy of Kitsap Historical Museum still exists today to serve veterans. not know for sure if a naval station would be built one mile north of the town, they knew what a tremendous opportunity the shipyard would create. It would provide jobs, boost profits of local businesses, and bring more settlers to Sidney.

What’s in a name?… In 1893, that the Sidney Hotel, once on the National Registry for Historic Sites, was built. Rooms were $2 a day. That same year came a campaign to switch the county seat to Sidney. The town petitioned the Washington State Legislature of 1892-93 to change its name to Port Orchard, after Port Orchard Bay and Vancouver’s clerk, Orchard. However, the town of Charleston (now part of Bremerton), which had been known as Port Orchard, had submitted an earlier petition to the Legislature to make its name Port Orchard. In light of

this earlier request, Sidney’s request to change its name to Port Orchard was denied. At around the same time, however, Sidney also submitted a request to the Post Office Department to rename its post office from Sidney Post Office to Port Orchard Post Office. The Post Office granted this request, not knowing the decision of the Washington State Legislature. The name change may have also been the result of a mistake over where to send the U.S. Navy’s mail in Puget Sound. The Post Office Department received a request to rout any Navy mail through “Port Orchard,” which someone understood to mean Sidney rather than the much-closer Charleston. When Charleston officials found out about the mix up, they alleged that they asked the people of Sidney to relinquish the name “Port Orchard” and that Sidney leaders agreed.

1945 Puget Sound Naval Shipyard ramps up during World War II, employing upward of 44,000.

However, shortly after this meeting, Sidney officials denied ever making such a promise. The two towns competed for use of the name “Port Orchard,” but by the turn of the century it became clear that Sidney had become Port Orchard. To end the confusion, Will Thompson, editor of the Sidney Independent, went to the state Legislature of 1902-03 and convinced legislators to rename the town Port Orchard City. From then on, Sidney was known only as Port Orchard. Though Charleston lost the battle for the name, it continued the competition with its rival. In 1924, Charleston campaigned to move the county seat from Port Orchard to Charleston. By August, it became clear that Charleston would once again lose to Port Orchard.

Prospering and dancing… In 1895, a fire burned down most of the business district. Among the businesses destroyed were the pottery works and a shingle mill. But by 1901, Port Orchard was again booming. The Kitsap County Business Review promised prosperity for those who came to Port Orchard because of its proximity to fine pine, fir, and hemlock for lumber; ample land ideal for dairy, chicken, or Angora goat farms or for orchards; deep sea fishing; and the opportunities with the shipyard. By 1901, Port Orchard was home to a large hotel, two steamboat companies, two churches, a public school, fraternal lodges, two daily mail services. The town was served by five steamboats heading to Seattle every day. Port Orchard faced an economic downturn from 1903 to 1904. In those SEE HISTORY, PAGE 14



1970s Famous Sidney Hotel, built in 1893, named to National Register of Historic sites. (Burns to ground in 1985.)

1977 New Kitsap Bank opens on Bay Street on the waterfront side where it is today.


1990s Port Orchard’s population grows from 2,000 to almost 5,000; city celebrates its centennial in 1990.

2015 City marks its 125th anniversary. Port Orchard foot-passenger ferry today.


years, most of the city’s budget had to come from saloon license fees, rather than poll taxes. In 1907, Port Orchard community members opened the Port Orchard Athletic Club, which consisted of a public hall for dances and shows as well as a baseball field. The club charged $1 for an initiation fee and then eventually switched its payment system to a subscription. It hosted many popular dances and concerts to raise money for the club. Both the dances and the baseball games were extremely popular with the residents of Port Orchard.

Telephones and cowbells… In January 1908, the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company brought service to Port Orchard after laying a submarine line to Bremerton in 1903. In June 1908, however, William D. Calder, who had recently founded Bremerton Telephone and Electric Lighting System, also received a franchise to conduct telegraph and telephone service as Kitsap County Telephone. This meant that each house with telephone service had to have two phones — one for each system. The two lines caused a lot of confusion, so in 1911, Sunset took over long-distance calls and Kitsap provided local calls. On Nov. 30, 1908, the city also granted a franchise to Peninsula Light and Power Company to provide electricity. Though Port Orchard was quickly developing into a city of the twentieth century, it still maintained some of

its pioneer mentality. In June 1908, the city passed its first “Herd Law,” which stated that cows were permitted to run at large in Port Orchard so long as their cowbells were removed between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Years of the Great War… Although the residents of Port Orchard had power and telephone ser vice, they did not acquire municipal water until 1911. A station was built at the Black Jack Creek site that had been set aside years before. However, 10 years later, this water system was replaced with a new artesian well, which provided more water to Port Orchard. Port Orchard continued to grow in the lead up to World War I. Harr y Ward, a transplant to Port Orchard, opened the first “moving picture” theater in 1914. In the same year, Port Orchard created a volunteer fire department. During the war, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard became a shipbuilding site, where hundreds of boats were built for the war effort. Many shipyard employees settled in Port Orchard. The closest mayoral race in Port Orchard histor y occurred in 1917, and its outcome was directly affected by the war. In November 1917, M.J. Hill of the “Taxpayers” tied W. F. Lindekugel of the “Citizens” at 81 votes each. Hill had to withdraw from the race for Navy ser vice, making Lindekugel the winner. However, his council refused to recognize him, and it took a court order declaring him the winner before the council allowed him to become mayor.

World War II and beyond… The growth and prosperity of Port Orchard had long been tied to the activity in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and the shipyard’s involvement in World War II was no exception. The shipyard led the effort to repair ships fighting on the Pacific front and even repaired five of the six ships damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor. During this period, the government constructed two large housing projects on the outskirts of Port Orchard to house shipyard workers and their families. The new housing resulted in such a population boom that the government also had to construct new schools for the shipyard workers’ children. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard remained a large employer of Port Orchard residents, as it became responsible for deactivation and storage following World War II, converting aircraft carriers to be compatible with newer, more advanced airplanes, activating ships in the Korean War, and building missile frigates in the 1960s. It was in the 1970s that the Sidney Hotel came back into focus. Throughout the years, the hotel which stood on a hill overlooking the town at the top of Sidney Avenue, was used as a hotel and as apartments. In 1968, it was called the Navy View Apartments and was a popular place for sailors to rent a room. In April 1975, townspeople began a campaign to have the hotel named to the National Register of Historic Sites, which it was. The hotel became the property of the Sidney Museum and Arts group in October 1975. They paid $34,000 for it. A fundraising campaign came next, hoping to reach $131,000 … the esti-

mated cost to renovate the hotel. By November 1978, $9,840 had been raised. When it became apparent that the money wasn’t there to do the project, the building went up for sale in February 1980. New owners Arnie Norem and Barry Ultican had plans to get grants and create much-needed low income housing. But on the mooring of July 17, 1985, at 12:31 a.m. a call came in that the hotel was on fire. “Despite the fact the the fire department was able to respond within three minutes, they were unable to save the hotel which burnt to the ground in 15 minutes,” the Port Orchard Independent reported. It was thought to be arson.

Port Orchard today… The boundaries of Port Orchard are similar to what they were originally — Sinclair Inlet on the north, Mitchell Road on the east, South Street on the south and one block west of Short Street on the west. The city remains the county seat and operates under a mayor-council form of government. Many residents still work for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard or Naval Base Kitsap, but they also commute to Seattle and Tacoma for work. In recent years, Port Orchard has attracted new residents as a result of its appeal as a pleasant waterfront community that is nonetheless very close to Seattle. In the past 20 years, the population has doubled from 4,900 residents in 1990 to 12,959 in the most recent census (2013). Port Orchard also draws a large crowd of tourists who come to enjoy beaches, public marina, golf courses, trails, and for the town itself. SEE HISTORY, PAGE 15




Port Orchard hosts several festivals and events, including Fathoms O’ Fun and a Seagull Calling Festival each May, the Murder Mystery Weekend each September, and an Art Walk held on May through October. Port Orchard also offers a large Independence Day Celebration. As of the census of 2010, there were 11,144 people, 4,278 households, and 2,726 families residing in the city. There were 4,630 housing units at an average density of 639.5 per square mile. Its Facebook page has 8,712 likes.

Sources: www.historylink. org; “Kitsap County, A History: A Story of Kitsap County and Its Pioneers.”


What is it that makes Port Orchard so special? By LESLIE KELLY


hat’s so special about Port Orchard? We asked that of some locals. Here’s what they said:

• “The friendliness of the people and their interest in the community itself.” — Marsha Chowning, resident of Port Orchard since 1968 • “It’s the people that make Port Orchard so special.” — Dannie Oliveaux, former Independent editor • “It was a great place to grow up. Port Orchard has always had the ‘can do’ attitude, even when the big corporations went to Bremerton, the small merchants here found a way to save downtown. We just never give up.” — Bryan Petro, lifelong resident of Port Orchard • “Waterfront walks, fabulous sunsets behind the mountains, small town friendliness, Whiskey Gulch Cafe, cute downtown,

Saturday farmers market, lots of eagles, blue herons, geese, and ducks — that’s my list of special things about Port Orchard.” — Louise Martin, resident for 17 years • “It’s a friendly and quite place. The street are safe. It’s just a pleasant place to live.” — Terry Bontrager, resident for more than 65 years. • “I think it’s the people. They are welcoming to anybody. When new people move in, they make sure they have what they need. They care about each other and about what happens here. It really matters to them.” — Christine Stansbery, moved to Port Orchard in the 1990s. • “When I started to write the Cedar Cove series I decided to set it in Port Orchard for a number of reasons. Port Orchard is the quintessential small town, reminiscent of small towns all across America. People are friendly and helpful. The population is made up of unique

characters readers would identify with and come to love just like Port Orchard. As a bonus it’s the home Wayne and I have chosen to live for the last thirty years. Because of the Hallmark TV series based on my books, Port Orchard has the unique opportunity to welcome guests from all around the world, looking to explore the area. What could be better than that?” — Debbie Macomber, author • “Port Orchard is a special place to live, work and play because of the interesting people, beautiful landscapes and an abundance of opportunities to grow. If people truly have a desire to be a part of ‘community’ ... they can find their niche in Port Orchard, making this an attractive place to be.” — Gary Simpson, Kitsap County Sheriff • “Even though it’s changed a lot over the years, to me it still has the small town feel I remember from the 1950s.” — George Willock, longtime resident

Congratulations on 125 years!


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u l t a a tions r g n o C 125 years

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A mural painted by “Pete the Painter” Storseth is among items that will be shown at the Pavilion during the anniversary celebration. Several of his paintings are expected to be shown. Leslie Kelly / staff photo

Providing Service Excellence throughout Puget Sound & surrounding areas for over 36 years!

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Happy 125th Anniversary Port Orchard Downtown Port Orchard Providing shopping and services since 1890

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South Kitsap’s Source for News & Information Since 1890.

“The Independent has grown with Port Orchard and South Kitsap County. It strives to keep alive the spark of community conscientiousness of each individual within range of its voice and to be a useful, faithful record for its readers.” Frank Albright, The Port Orchard Independent, 1947

Celebrating Port Orchard’s city and newspaper for 125 years.


125 YEA


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He has good memories of his years at Red’s Texaco Russ Barringer was the man in the Texaco cap By LESLIE KELLY


hen Russ Barringer took over Red’s Texaco gasoline station at Bay Street and Rockwell Avenue in 1953, the price of gas was 32 cents a gallon. In those days, when a car pulled up, he’d hear a ring and come out to pump the customer’s gas. “It was truly full-ser vice back then,” Barringer said. “We did it all — the windows, check the oil and pump the gas.” Although he had the option of wearing the “Texaco … Trust your car to the man who wears a star” uniform, he opted for “suntans,” lightweight tan-colored pants and shirt. “But I always wore the Texaco cap,” he added. Barringer is now 92 and a resident at the Stafford Suites in Port Orchard. He still owns his family home on Melcher Street downtown. But a few years ago, he moved to Stafford. His wife, Delores, was ill and had to go into a nursing home. She died in May. It wasn’t a easy route Barringer took to running that Texaco station, which was across from Heart’s Brewer y, and Jan’s Ice Cream. A Chevy garage was next door. Barringer and his wife had moved back to Iowa when, sometime around 1952, he received a letter from his father. “He told me that he’s taken over the gas station and he could sure use some help,” Barringer said. “We were ver y ready to leave Iowa, so I told him ‘yes.’ ” His father had been a night watchman at the brewer y, and before that, had operated a ser vice station near Kitsap Lake. Russ had worked there with his father some, before moving to Iowa. “At Kitsap Lake, my dad was known for giving kids a piece of chewing gum when their parents brought in their cars to be gassed up,” he said. “Ever yone loved my dad.”

This is what Red’s Texaco looked like when Russ Barringer ran it in the 1950s. It was located on Bay Street at Rockwell Avenue. Contributed photo

Longtime Port Orchard resident Russ Barringer recalls his days pumping gasoline and changing oil at Red’s Texaco, while he sorts through old photographs. Leslie Kelly / staff photo

Nicknamed “Red” for his red hair, the downtown station became known as Red’s Texaco. Russ worked with his dad for a few years, and after a time, the neighbor who ran the Chevy garage asked to join them. “We thought it was a good idea because he knew car engines and things I didn’t know,” Barringer said. “But later I regretted it

because my dad kind of got worked out of a job.” After five years, the owner of the Chevy garage and Barringer parted ways. Barringer kept the station and ran it until about 1969. “I was ready to do something else,” he said. “I found a buyer, so we did inventor y and settled on a price. The guy said he’d be able to

pay me in a few weeks, but after that went by, he couldn’t paid me. So I went down there with a U-Haul and took all the inventor y, including the cash register and the gas nozzles.” The station, itself, was owned by a man in California, who eventually found someone to run it and it remained a ser vice station on into the 1970s, when it was demolished. Barringer found someone to buy his inventor y and went on to take a job working for the state highway department. He worked in maintenance and retired after 19 years. Back in the day, he said, most ever ybody had a car. “There were lots of cars in town,” he said. “I knew ever y customer by name.” Some of them would ask for credit, which he didn’t extend, “except for a few special people.” Out in front of the station he had a pop machine, which sometimes brought people by, just to get a Coke and visit. “It was the kind where you lifted the top and there were bottles lined up inside,” he said. “You’d slide the bottle you wanted into position and then put in your nickel. If you didn’t put in a nickel, you wouldn’t get your pop.” Part of his job was making sure the machine was stocked, so that there was always cold pop available. At lunch time, he’s go to Myhre’s cafe, or the Chinese restaurant down the street that was next door to Kitsap County Bank. “They had real good food,” he said. “We lived up the hill from it and on Friday nights, my wife and I and our three kids would walk down the hill to get dinner there.” Red’s Texaco, the Chinese restaurant, Heart’s Brewer y, Myhre’s Cafe, and Howe’s grocer y, where his wife worked for a time, are all gone. Even Kitsap Bank is now at another location. But those memories are still ver y fresh in Barringer’s mind. “An awful lot has changed in Port Orchard since 1953,” he said. “I’ve out lived most my friends. They’re all gone. And the old buildings -most of them are gone, too. But it was a nice place to live and raise a family.”



Taking a look back...



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Jan’s Cafe and Ice Cream on Bay Street near Rockwell Avenue was a great place for an ice cream cone or hamburger. The Silver Spring Brewery is in the background, circa 1940s.

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Happy 125th Birthday Port Orchard Everybody’s American Cookhouse congratulates the City and the Independent on making this area a great place to live and work for one hundred and twenty-five years. We want to thank the people and businesses of Port Orchard for your great support in our first three years. Because of that support we are able to provide employment for nearly thirty of your neighbors. We feature “northwest comfort food”, the largest media screen in Kitsap County, and a welcome where “Everybody is somebody at Everybody’s” Not just a great place to eat. Make us your spot for games, meetings, re-unions and all around good times. We are located at 4215 Mile Hill – right at the top of the hill. 360-443-2979 • Visit us at www. or on facebook

Certified Public Accountants May we daily express our thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us these past 125 years. May we love one another in His image, may we lift up and encourage our family, friends, neighbors, and community when we encounter challenging times, and share the joy and fruits of our labor in times of plenty these next 125 years. - John 15:9-17; Phil 4:8-9 Thank you, Port Orchard, for your continued patronage throughout our four decades in business!




‘Then and Now’ photos tell of Port Orchard’s growth

Kitsap Historical Museum photo

Leslie Kelly / staff photo

The Navy yard traffic in the late 1940s, on Bay Street. The bus in the photo carried shipyard workers through town to View Park.

City Hall now sits where the Standard station was in the 1940s. City Hall opened in 1999 and, while digging for its foundation, Native American remains were found.

Congratulations Port Orchard for

125 years

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Filmmaker collecting stories of Port Orchard’s days Interesting stories to be collected on film as part of Port Orchard’s 125th anniversary celebration. By LESLIE KELLY


on Manning is looking for some great stories about Port Orchard from some of the city’s longest and oldest residents. As part of the 125th Port Orchard Anniversary celebration on Sept. 5, Manning, owner of Sky High Productions, will set up shop in the city’s Pavilion on Bay Street. He and a cameraman and an assistant will be asking questions of anyone who wants to stop by to talk about Port Orchard. “I’m looking for people with the most interesting stories,” he said. “Nothing will be scripted. I want to hear the most amazing thing that they’ve experienced in their life time. It can be technology. Or it could be the tattooed lady they saw at the circus when they were young.” Manning is making a documentary called, “Speaking of American,” which is similar to what he’ll be doing at the celebration. Thus far, he’s just recorded a couple of interviews for the documentary. But when local historian Bryan Petro asked him to film interviews for the anniversary, Manning said “yes.” “I think it’s a great idea,” Manning said. “It’s very similar to what I’ve been doing for the documentary.” He’ll set up at City Hall for the opening ceremony on Sept. 5, scheduled to begin

at 10 a.m. Then he’ll move to the Pavilion where he’ll have an open-air quiet corner in which to conduct his interviews. The film will be preserved by the local history museum for future use. Manning describes himself as a “lifelong film buff. “I have special memories of going to the creature features and matinees when I was Contributed photo young,” he said. “They Don Manning were always double features. The lights would go out and film would begin flickering on the screen. It was like going on some kind of ride. It was a journey.” He recalled his first experience of seeing a movie at a movie theater was when he was 6 years old. “Mom took my sister and I to a movie she wanted to see — a Susan Hayward film, ‘I Want to Live,’ ” he said. “As a 6-year-old it was way over my head, because at the end Hayward’s character gets sent to the gas chamber. “I knew something was up because my mom covered our eyes with her hands.” He grew up in East Bremerton and has been a resident of Port Orchard for 15 years. He’s had a career in business, owning a bar and grill in Port Orchard,

an appliance business and spent over 15 “Closing Time,” which was shot in Port years in the automotive industry in sales Orchard last summer, cost only about and management. $6,000, he said. In the 1990s, when he working Seeing the first film in Seattle, he went to some he wrote and co“The lights would go casting calls and appeared in produced come to life out and film would several commercials and did “has really inspired begin flickering on voice work. From that he got me to keep at it,” he interested in what was going on the screen. It was like said. behind the camera. going on some kind of “It got me thinking “It intrigued me,” Manning about other projects,” ride.” said. “I was always thinking he said. about how they were shooting Don Manning Among them, and the angles they were using.” “Speaking of Now in his 60s, and America,” and a semi-retired, he’s founded Sky High feature film script titled “Sky High,” which Productions and will premiere his also became the name for his company. 21-minute narrative drama titled “Closing “It’s just an exciting time for me,” he Time,” in October. It will be shown at said. “This is something I’m going to Shoreline Community College Theater, enjoy.” where he’s working with film students. Anyone wanting to share a story of Port “Film making today is so different — Orchard in its early days, call Manning at with digital equipment, it’s much less 206-792-9919 to set up an appointment for expensive than before,” he said. “It can be Sept. 5. Or stop by the Pavilion. done without financial backers.”

Happy 125th Birthday Port Orchard!

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City’s first fire truck to be part of the celebration After many years traveling around the state, Port Orchard’s 1931 Ford has found its way home.

be in the Kitsap Bank parking lot from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with 20 to 30 other classic cars. The fire truck’s final appearance of the day will be at the Port Orchard Farmers Market during the closing ceremony for the 125th anniversary celebration.



t’s been a long journey, but Port Orchard’s first fire truck — a 1931 Ford Double A — finally made it home. And, although it’s been around town for the past 11 years, it’s still a highlight. The 1931 fire truck will be part of the Saints Car Club’s display on Saturday, Sept. 5, as part of the 125th anniversary celebration. According to longtime resident Terry Bontrager, the truck was first owned by the city and went into service in 1931. “There’d been a big fire in 1928 at the Methodist Church on Prospect,” said Bontrager. “The city decided it needed a real fire truck.” Prior to that time, fires were put out with water that could be hauled to the site. In 1942, the city upgraded to its first pumper truck, a 1942 Ford. With that new pumper, the city decided the old 1931 truck was no longer needed and gave it to the Retsil Veterans Home. In 1957, the truck was given to the Orting Soldiers Home, which kept it until 1966, when it was surplussed. At that point, a King County volunteer fire department in Auburn bought the truck to use in local parades. “Soon after that, the volunteers here in Port Orchard tried to talk them out of it, but couldn’t,” said Bontrager. “And then in 2004, they called and wanted to know if we still wanted it. “I said ‘What kind of stupid question is that? Sure we want it.’” So the truck came back home, and when it arrived, it was reunited with all its original equipment. “When the truck went to Retsil, they didn’t need a fire truck,” he said. “They just needed a truck. So the city kept all the equipment for all those years.” The fire truck, which is red, was in good shape, he said. And not much had to be done to it. “It only has 3,000 miles on it,” Bontrager said. “It didn’t see a lot of fires.” When it returned to Port Orchard, a trust fund was set up by the Langer Family of Kitsap Bank, and the truck will

Saints Car Club Show Port Orchard’s first fire truck, a 1931 Ford Double A, finally came home to Port Orchard in the 2004. It will be on display at the anniversary celebration. Contributed photo forever reside in Port Orchard. Bontrager has family roots in the Port Orchard Fire Department. His father, Tom Bontrager, was a firefighter and was chief from 1957 to 1967. Terry is a volunteer firefighter since 1965, and will get his 50 year pin later this year. Terry can rifle off the dates and locations of all the major fires in Port Orchard since about 1950. There were fires in the late 1800s and early 1900s which wiped out blocks of downtown. One of the more famous places that burnt to the ground in the 1980s, was the Sidney Hotel, which also was called the Navy Yard Apartments, “Over the years, we went to a lot of fires there,” he said. “There were wood stoves in each room. So they had a lot of chimney fires.” The fire that burnt it to the ground was deemed to be arson and has never been solved, Bontrager said. As a member of the Saints Car Club, Bontrager’s been saving old cars and trucks for many years. He’s got three other firetrucks undergoing restoration. In all, there are 65 members of the club which began in 1953. “It was started by the police, to keep the kids with hot rods in check,” Bontrager said. It was dormant during the Vietnam War years, but picked back up following that and is going strong. “Our charter only allows 65 members,” he said. “Most the time we have a waiting list.” The 1931 fire truck will be at City Hall

from 8-10 a.m. Sept. 5, while volunteers host a pancake feed along Prospect Street, to support the work they do. Then, it will

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Where: Kitsap Bank Parking Lot on Bay Street What: More than 30 classic and antique cars and the 1931 fire engine Cost: Free to attend

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‘Then and Now’ photos tell of Port Orchard’s growth

Kitsap Historical Museum photo

Leslie Kelly / staff photo

A policeman directs traffic at Bay Street and Sidney Avenue in the 1940s. On the left is Blanchard’s Department Store.

The same intersection today has traffic lights, but the Blanchard’s Department Store building is still standing and is now home to an antiques store.

Happy Anniversary Port Orchard!

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Congratulations Port Orchard! We’re proud to have called Port Orchard home for 107 years. Congratulations to the City of Port Orchard and the Port Orchard Independent on your 125th Birthdays!

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Festivals - Celebrating Port Orchard 125 Years  


Festivals - Celebrating Port Orchard 125 Years