Category Archives: Rolling Bay

Remembering the great Bainbridge Grange riot of 1964

Grange

The Bainbridge Grange’s last big event was a meeting of the newly-formed fruit grower’s club. They tasted pears, talked about their gardens’ successes and failures, and strategized about how to get new members – typical stuff at the quiet little community hall on North Madison.

But things weren’t always so tame. The Grange hosted some raucous teenage rock shows during the early part of the last decade, and even more back in the ’90s.

But the island’s teenagers of the recent past have nothing on the crazy knife-wielding, window bashing kids of the 1960s.

From our archives, here’s a news item about a Grange Hall riot that took place 50 years ago this week:

An orderly teenage dance became chaos Saturday night when a full-scale riot erupted at the Bainbridge Island Grange Hall.

Two youths remained hospitalized today from the melee, and three others required treatment for stab wounds.

Several others were injured but did not require treatment.

Two youths are being held in the county jail as a result of the incident. At least 10 automobiles parked outside the hall near Rolling Bay had windows broken because of the fracas.

For more about the Grange, read our 2010 story about its revival here.

And check out Larry Steagall’s photo gallery here.

Island Road History | Gertie Johnson Road

Street of the Week: Gertie Johnson Road

Location: East off Rolling Bay business district

History: Gertrude Johnson was accustomed to being first. She lived in the first beach house off Logg Road; she helped create the area’s first park; she was Bainbridge Island’s first women legislator.
Outside her accomplishments at the capital, Johnson may be best known for her ties to Fay Bainbridge.

In the wake of the Great Depression, the state was looking for land. Johnson heard the property of a longtime Island family, the Fays, was up for sale. On a hunch it would be a perfect spot for a new park, Johnson picked up the phone.

The state couldn’t afford the $15,000 asking price, she explained. That’s fine, the Fays replied. You can have it for $5,000, just name it after the family. And Johnson did just that.

Source: “A History of Bainbridge Island,” Katy Warner, 1968

Giving up on Gertie makes the TV news

Komo News followed up on our story about the strong possibility the city may abandon landslide-prone Gertie Johnson Road.

Interim City Manager Brenda Bauer said in yesterday’s Komo report that the city has no plans to abandon Gertie but that it also has no money to fix it. She added that the city could apply for grants or create a new tax to pay for road fixes.

The new roads tax idea got no takers when City Councilman Bob Scales floated the idea the idea last week. Most council members said they want to take a slower, more cautious approach toward new taxes.

Lawsuits, landslides and energy bills

Power down
Bainbridge Positive Energy group officially launched a grant-funded initiative to curb residential power use.

The group is scheduling free home energy assessments for up to 4,000 Bainbridge households.

Read more here.

Ratepayer rebound
Also this week, the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance expanded its lawsuit against the city, giving a bit more life to a legal challenge that has already suffered three setbacks in court.

The lawsuit now includes an allegation that the city failed to properly charge itself stormwater fees for island roads.

Read more here.

Soggy hillside
Gertie Johnson Road remains closed and most of its homes remain empty after an emergency evacuation last week.

Rain continues to plague the landslide-prone hillside on which Gertie sits, making road-clearing risky.

Read my update on the closure here, and head below to read the city manager’s Mar. 18 letter to the road’s residents.

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Bainbridge court staying put?

It looks like the Bainbridge court is staying put.

Poulsbo appears to be nixing the shared court deal after Bainbridge balked at going above an annual $42,500 lease rate. Click here for more details.

Meanwhile, a group of islanders have come up with a detailed counter proposal aimed fixing up the court’s current Rolling Bay building. Read more about that here.

“The judiciary is an important and necessary part of every government, and I believe it should be in the community it serves,” Jim Kennedy, one of the group’s members, told me yesterday.

An update on negotiations and a proposal by the pro-Bainbridge court group are on the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting, starting at 7:50 p.m.

We’ll have an update at kitsapsun.com later tonight.

North Madison bike lanes and other notes

North-end cyclists rejoice
The long-awaited North Madison Avenue bike lane and pedestrian improvements will begin today, about a month ahead of schedule.

The city plans to construct a paved shoulder along North Madison between Highway 305 and Valley Road.

The work was originally scheduled to begin Feb. 28, but unseasonably warm weather has made conditions ideal for an earlier start. The work will be completed in during the spring.

Road work will also begin today on Manitou Beach Drive. For a bit more on both projects, head over here.

Closed on Sundays
The Bainbridge Public Library was open for its last Sunday this week. Patrons aren’t happy, but the system-wide hours reduction could save Kitsap Regional Libraries $100,000 each year. For more, read this article.

Gospel music on Bainbridge?
The island’s annual Sing Out! gospel sing-along was held on Saturday at Rolling Bay Presbyterian. See photos, video and read the story here.

Kid-tested, (earth) mother-approved
The Seattle Times did a story on an island mom who founded her own baby frame carriers. In true Bainbridge style, the carriers are made with organic cotton and eco-friendly dyes. Read more here.

Carden school confident it can revive Moran building

Yesterday I got word that Bainbridge-based Carden Country School is in negotiations to buy the Moran School theater building.

Carden’s purchase would save the building from demolition and possibly return it to its former grandeur.

For more about the proposed purchase, read my story.

I wasn’t able to reach a Carden representative before deadline, but I did get a call this morning from Jeb Thornburg, an island architect and Carden parent who is leading the school’s effort to revive the Moran building.

He said the Carden, an independent Christian institution that’s operated on the island since 1990, wants to grow beyond its current limit of 40 students. Read a bit more about that in the school’s strategic plan.

I asked him how a small private school can undertake a multi-million renovation of a building that has been neglected for some 50 years.

“We feel confident in our ability to do that,” he said. “This is real. We’re not just dreaming.”

While he was hesitant to discuss the details of the school’s financing plan, Thornburg said the added tuition revenue from some 60 more students would help.

State tax credits for renovations of historical buildings will also be a key component of the financing plan, he said.

Thornburg admits buying an existing building or even constructing a new one would likely cost less and cause fewer headaches than renovating the old Moran building.

But for Thornburg and Carden’s leaders, saving a piece of Bainbridge history is part of the project’s appeal.

“Because we live here, we think it’s important to preserve the heritage on our island,” he said.

For more about the Moran building, see my September feature story.

New Poll: Should the Bainbridge court move to Poulsbo?

What do you think about the proposal to move the Bainbridge municipal court to a shared court facility in the new Poulsbo City Hall?

See the previous POST for the pros and cons, and then cast your vote over to the right.

As for our last poll about the Moran School theater building, head down below for the results…

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Wednesday is judgement day for Bainbridge courthouse

Bainbridge courthouse

The City Council is scheduled to decide on Wednesday whether to begin the process of moving the Bainbridge Island Municipal Court to Poulsbo’s new city hall. The discussion begins at 7 p.m.

The issue drew quite a bit of comment at the last council meeting. Over a dozen people spoke in favor of keeping the courthouse on Bainbridge; none spoke against. Moving it to Poulsbo, they said, would cost residents time and money, dissuade some of the least fortunate from seeking the court’s help, and reflect poorly on the community’s values.

No one at the meeting spoke in favor of moving the court to Poulsbo, but the pro argument is laid out in the Joint Court Task Force’s report. The task force, which is made up of elected officials from both cities, noted that the move will save Bainbridge about $15,000 a year and finally put the court in a building specifically designed for a court (the current Rolling Bay courthouse was designed for retail and storage use).

Read more about the pros and cons in my STORY from Saturday’s paper. There’s also a good debate in the comments section.

Head down below for a packet of documents related to the issue, including a Bainbridge city staff assessment of the Rolling Bay building, the task force’s recommendation and Judge Kate Carruthers’ dissenting view that the courthouse should stay on Bainbridge.

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Moran School may dodge the wrecking ball

At least five parties have expressed serious interest in purchasing and rehabilitating the crumbling Moran School theater building.

While the parties won’t be named until negotiations formally begin with the building’s owner, it was disclosed that most are either nonprofits or educational institutions.

That’s surprisingly good news for historical preservationists who had all but given up hope that the former private school theater and dormitory would be saved.

“It’s very encouraging,” said Dave Williams, chair of the city Historic Preservation Commission. “We’ve been really surprised with the amount of interest.”

I wrote a story about the level of interest shown on Friday, the deadline for finding a buyer. Read that story HERE.

Williams added a few more details this morning. According to Williams, four parties have written official letters of interest. He said most were established “educational institutions,” but declined to give specifics. He did note that none were universities or schools for children (like, say, a Montessori school). Williams agreed most of the educational institutions were in a similar vein as the IslandWood environmental learning center.

He also mentioned that an architect representing a wealthy individual has shown strong interest.

And according to this blog’s latest poll results (see over to the right), most people would like to see the building become a McMenamins brew pub/hotel. Oddly enough, that’s also the least likely of the the nine poll options to actually happen (mostly because the owner, which operates the next-door nursing home, would never allow it). But we can dream…

New poll: What’s your vision for Moran School?


I got a call the other day from a gentleman interested in buying the old Moran School theater building. His idea: convert it into a sort of retreat/hotel/learning center for foreign exchange students of all ages.

He had read my most recent story on the building, which is set for demolition if a buyer doesn’t come forward by Oct. 1. The story includes an eye-ball assessment from two historical building experts. They say the building is not as bad as it looks, seems structurally sound and could be returned to something close to its former glory with a whole lot of money. If you haven’t yet, head over HERE to read the story (it contains some not-so-well-known links between Moran School and a Nobel Prize-winning physicist).

Thinking I may have been a little too upbeat about the state of the building, he asked how bad it really was. I told him it was pretty bad, and listed some of the many fixes that would likely total more than $2 million.

His deadpan response: “I am not intimidated by $2 million.”

By that he means he has a lot of money. But, of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s buying the place. Far from it. He’d have to determine if the building fits his vision, get a thorough structural assessment, check into the zoning restrictions, enter into negotiations with the owner, Soundcare Inc., which would range from price to whether or not the possible future uses are compatible with a neighboring nursing home.

But never mind all that. Let’s say you too were not “intimidated” by a multi-million dollar renovation. What would you do with the Moran School building?

I’ve heard plenty of ideas and have included some in the poll over on the right of your screen.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery Brad Camp shot during our tour of the building. It’ll give you an idea of the building’s potential. And head over to this photo gallery to see some historic images of the school.

Moran School gets a bit of national spotlight

Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, featured an article this week about the efforts to save the Moran School theater building.

“It’s a handsome building, and it’s large—it has the capacity to house 30 to 40 offices, and so would make a great building for a non-profit or a community organization to have headquarters there,” says Will Shopes, chair of Bainbridge’s Historic Preservation Commission…

The city recently put a temporary hold on plans to demolish the building.

Despite its historic value, Shopes doesn’t hold much hope for the building’s preservation.

….that dream might not be realistic. The building is located in a residential neighborhood, making parking scarce, and is in poor condition, as it has sat empty since the 1950s. “We’ve had no real dialogue with Soundcare officials, but all I’ve heard from them is that the building is a nuisance,” Shopes says. “They say it will take $1 million to 1.5 million to stabilize the building, between $3 million and $5 million to restore it, and $100,000 to tear it down.”

With those figures, the Moran School’s future looks dim. But Shopes hopes that the community’s efforts could save the grand structure. “On the island we have had a little bit of success in getting the community behind preserving some of our notable historic features, so it might happen someone could still come forward and offer to lease it, or fix it up,” he says.

Read Preservation’s full article HERE.