Category Archives: Downtown

Where’d the Parche’s stripes go?

Where’d the Parche’s awards go?

The USS Parche isn’t going dark again — not for long, anyway.

The sail of the most decorated vessel in U.S. Navy history, which sits in front of Puget Sound Navy Museum, lost its stripes recently. All of its awards were stripped off during its annual painting last week, by volunteers from Submarine Development Squadron 5. That’s the outfit for fast attack submarines Seawolf, Connecticut and Jimmy Carter.

The colorful citations represent nine Presidential Unit Citations, 10 Navy Unit Commendations, 13 Navy Expeditionary Medals and 15 Battle Efficiency Awards.

“The vinyl wasn’t in the greatest shape, so they were actually removed and we’re going to reapply them,” said Danelle Feddes, deputy director and senior curator at the museum.  The shipyard’s sign shop is doing that work.

The sail is owned by the city, but the museum helps to maintain it.

Parche moved to Naval Submarine Base Bangor in 1994 and operated its final years out of Hood Canal. A decommissioning ceremony was held Oct. 19, 2004, at the shipyard, not far from where the sail now rests. Most of the sub’s missions were secret and remain classified.

This guest post was written by Ed Friedrich. Ed was my guest star on this exciting video seen below.

Washington Avenue’s sporting new curbs


If you’ve been on Washington Avenue lately, you know it’s quite a mess. But the $3.5 million project hit a major milestone Tuesday when the first of its new curbs were placed along the northbound portion of the roadway.

Many engineers have told me of the importance of the placing of the curbs. It signifies a road project’s transition from below ground work to surface construction. And, in this particular project, the curb placement gives us the first look at a sized-down roadway — and how much wider the sidewalks will be.


The project is adding those wider sidewalks, bike lanes and street lights to both sides of the road, between the Manette Bridge and Fifth Street. The roadway will be permanently dropped from two lanes to one in each direction.

Contractor RV Associates has already added new water, sewer and stormwater pipes underneath the road. Other utilities have also been placed underground, including burying the power lines between Fifth and Sixth streets.

Now, they’ll finish up the northbound street, pouring new concrete sidewalks and laying asphalt. There’s a good chance that work will be completed next week.

Following that, work will transition to the southbound side, or “upper” lanes. The project is slated for completion in October.

Nite Shift no more: Development looms at old Bremerton bar site

The Nite Shift is no longer for sale. It will be demolished in mere days.

Dale Sperling was one of more than a dozen people who gave an earful to the Bremerton City Council last Wednesday night. The 41-year Kitsap resident and longtime developer praised what he called “one of the best physical settings in Puget Sound,” with a “high value” workforce and a ferry to Seattle.

“So why is downtown Bremerton not taking off?” he asked the Council.

His answer was blight. And, aside from making arguments to the Council that night to use federal housing dollars to combat Bremerton’s “empty building problem,” Sperling has recently purchased what he referred to as the “epitome of blight.”

Sperling’s now the owner of the old Nite Shift tavern, which hasn’t been open for years. During an inspection inside a colleague of his actually fell partially through the floor — hence his reference to the epitome of blight.

The building, home to both the Nite Shift and Scotty’s taverns in decades gone by, had been bought by the owners of the Horse & Cow a few years ago. But Mike Looby and Larry Timby have found success on the recently brick-lined section of Fourth Street. In came Sperling, seeking an opportunity in downtown Bremerton. The 1946-built tavern sold for $250,000, according to the Kitsap County Assessor’s Office.

Sperling, once the president and CEO of Unico Properties, owner of around 15 million square feet of commercial real estate in the western United States, says he’s “bullish” on Bremerton and Kitsap County. More recently, he founded a company known as OneBuild, which manufactures prefabricated modular units — “everything but the toilet paper,” he told me — and then stacks them like legos into contemporary apartments.

The bulldozers should get going at the site, 242 Burwell Street, within days.

What will happen after demolition is still up in the air. Sperling, who is working through the permitting process and has presented plans to construct 30 units there, says there’s no timetable for construction. He does not want to put the cart before the horse, he told me.

If he goes forward with his plans, his project will join the list of downtown apartment projects including The 606, a 71-unit venture being constructed by Lorax Partners down the street, as well as The Spyglass Hill apartments, an 80-unit apartment complex overlooking the Manette Bridge. Other projects have been planned near Evergreen Park and on Washington Avenue as well. All told, Bremerton could have hundreds more apartments in its downtown core in just a few years.

Sperling is confident Bremerton will soon thrive. And he’d like to be a part of that. He shakes his head when he sees surface parking lots in downtown Bremerton.

“To think, the highest and best use is surface parking,” he told the Council. “It’s a complete non-sequitur.”



Storywalking history, the Roxy, and all things hoppy

Photo by Greg Salo.
Outside the first brewery. Photo by Greg Salo.

I was overjoyed this past week that so many of you turned out for two different Story Walks. 


It started Thursday at the Kitsap Historical Society & Museum. We toured the 1941-built Roxy Theater next door, taking in the 650-seat theater and all its glory. We also walked Pacific Avenue to talk about some of the theaters gone by here in Bremerton.

On Saturday, we walked to Bremerton’s four different breweries, getting an inside look at LoveCraft and Wobbly Hopps (which haven’t opened yet) and talking with Silver City and Der Blokken‘s brewers.

About 80 people came to each walk. If you were there, I’d love to hear what you liked (and disliked) about each one.

I will have another walk every month and will keep you posted as details for the August walk are ironed out. In the meantime, here’s links to earlier Story Walks.

Photo by Mark Henson.
Inside the Roxy. Photo by Mark Henson. 

Walking the new Westpark

The new Lower Wheaton Way

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide

One downtown cafe bumped for a bigger one


For seven years, Two Blocks Up Cafe, at the corner of Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue, has served up sandwiches, oversized cookies and the “Two Block Chop.” But on July 24, the business will close up shop for good.

Their lease is up, and the building’s owners, The Bremer Trust, found a tenant that will rent out a larger 2,200 square foot space. The area includes not only the restaurant but also a western wing of the building that had proved hard to find prospects for, according to Gary Gartin of Bradley Scott.

For Taylor Wagner, the move is a hard one.

“This has been my baby for seven years,” she said.

Come August, the new tenant will move in. So what’s coming? The Hot Java Cafe, which already has a location within the Silverdale Beach Hotel. The cafe also used to have coffee stands at the Home Depots in Silverdale and Poulsbo before the big box store disallowed other businesses from operating there.

Lacey Coolbaugh, who owns the business along with DeeDee Easler, said they’re taking on their biggest ever cafe endeavor. After taking over the space now held by Two Blocks Up, they plan this winter to expand the cafe by taking on the additional unrented space behind it.

“We’re really, really excited about it,” she said.

They’re aiming for a community gathering place, to include not only your morning coffee but your evening beer or wine. Along with a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches, they want to host game nights and musicians. They’re hoping to open in mid-August.

Wagner said she’s enjoyed watching downtown grow and change over the years she’s been there. But she knows what the hardest part of leaving will be.

“Not seeing the people,” she said. “That’s what I’m gonna miss.”

Wagner’s next move? She’ll soon be opening “LaTay,” an espresso stand near the Chevron station on top of RIdgetop (off Silverdale Way).

A Roxy rendezvous

Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

At the height of the second World War, Bremerton was dotted with theaters. A city of more than 80,000 — double what it is today — had a seemingly insatiable demand to escape to the movies or take in live theater. There was the Tower on Fourth Street. The Rex and the Rialto on Second Street. Even the Bay Bowl, on Bremerton’s east side, started as a theater.

The only two still standing from that era are the Admiral and the Roxy. The Admiral was restored and reopened in 1997. The Roxy remains shuttered.

Here’s how Frank Wetzel, author of the famed World War II-era Bremerton book, “Victory Gardens and Barrage Balloons,” described the Roxy Theater’s opening:

“Even more important for youngsters was the new Roxy Theater on Fourth Street, advertised to cost $150,000 for construction and equipment. The Roxy hired the best-looking girls in town as usherettes; they were permissive in letting their friends sometimes sneak (local vernacular was “leach”) into the theater without charge and also, some said, in other ways as well.

The Roxy opened on May 31 with Hollywood-type searchlights probing the sky and a swing band led by Jackie Souders. The opening attraction was “The Devil and Miss Jones.”

As you probably read in today’s Kitsap Sun, there’s a new effort to restore the Roxy. I packed the article with as much history as I felt could get past my editor. But the place just has so many stories.


So on Thursday night, we’re going to revive as many of those memories as we can. The Kitsap Historical Society and Museum has invited me to give a talk and tour of some of downtown Bremerton’s most historic buildings. It’s my latest Story Walk. My main focus will be the Roxy but we’ll take a stroll around the block to see some of the other famous buildings of Bremerton that remain standing (and so that aren’t).

Some goodies that are in store for Thursday: an old uniform from the Roxy, old ticket stubs and even a five minute newsreel documenting the theater’s opening in 1941.

Hope you can make it.


Wedding on a destroyer: a Turner Joyous occasion


Nearly four years ago, Bill “Travis” Poplin and Jeri Schueler went on their first date aboard the USS Turner Joy‘s haunted ship at Halloween.  

Last weekend, they returned there to exchange vows.

About 135 of their friends and family crowded the stern of the ship last Saturday in a Jimmy Buffet-themed wedding, complete with Hawaiian leis. It was entirely appropriate for the Port Orchard couple — Poplin, a retired tin can sailor and Schueler the office manager at Hillside Elementary on Joint Base Lewis McCord. They both love the museum ship and encouraged their guests to tour it as part of the festivities.

“It was excellent,” Poplin said of the wedding, adding that the couple encouraged guests to donate to its foundation in lieu of gifts.

Schueler called it “perfect,” with hot temperatures .

The bride and groom.
The bride and groom.

“It looks like we were in Hawaii, maybe even on the Missouri,” she said.

Some friends helped ferry people across Sinclair Inlet for a reception at Port Orchard Yacht Club following the ceremony.

Their first date aboard the ship’s haunted environs nearly four years ago was followed by dinner at Anthony’s.

“I figured I’d scare her to death and so she wouldn’t eat as much,” Poplin joked of his plan.

He proposed to his bride-to-be at Christmas this past year, getting down on one knee in front of her family. After she said yes, it was time to start planning for the big day.

His first thought was Vegas. She liked the idea of doing something more family inclusive. Then, it hit her: Poplin, having retired from the Navy, was a big fan of ships, so why not reach out to the place where they had their first date? She recalled seeing a military retirement ceremony on the Turner Joy and so she called and asked: “Do you guys do weddings?”


The ship was happy to oblige.

Both felt the ship was a beautiful setting, though some of the attendees gave the couple some gentle ribbing on one aspect.

“It wasn’t the first marriage for either one of us,” Poplin said. “And people would say to us ‘you got married on a destroyer.’”

Special thanks to Poplin and Schueler for providing the photos.


New posters up at the downtown cinemas


Gretchen Ritter-Lopatowski has seen her share of movies recently at Bremerton’s SEEFilm Cinemas. Like, 20 to 25 of them.

When you design the winning entry for a new poster on the cinemas’ exterior, you get to go for free for a year. And bring a friend. And have credit at the snack bar to go with.

“We have been fully taking advantage of it,” she said.

The graphic designer, who moved here little more than two years ago, was enticed last fall to try her hand at winning the competition. The result (see above) is a lovely collage of Bremerton and theater iconography.


“I was going for something visually appealing, to catch their attention and keep them there,” she said. “Everyone says when they look at it they always find something new.”

Ritter-Lopatowski lives here with her husband Jason, who works at Rice Fergus Miller architects downtown.

Another poster also went up on the theater, welcoming drivers through Bremerton’s ferry tunnel (also below). It’s the work of Mike Stitt, who with his wife Julie manage the theater.

The theater, which opened in June 2012, has continued to grow attendance since it opened. Attendance its first year reached 172,000; now in its third year, it’s likely to eclipse 200,000, according to statistics kept by the City of Bremerton.


Look out Bremerton, it’s Ladies’ Night Out


Sheila Roberts had been looking for a way to bring more people to downtown Bremerton. In starting the city’s first Ladies’ Night Out, she’s most definitely sweetened the deal.

Roberts, a best selling author who lives at Lake Symington, has been working behind the scenes for months to coordinate with more than 40 stores and restaurants downtown and in Manette to create the event, running from 5-8 p.m. Thursday.

“We would just like people to see there’s fun things to see and do right here in Bremerton,” Roberts said.

I will refer you to the maps below for a full listing of all the goodies and services that are free of charge or discounted. But it includes everything from chocolate to massages to signature drinks.

Things will kick off on Fourth Street, between Washington and Pacific avenues, at the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce. Bags and a free gift — one of Roberts’ books — will be provided.

“We’re hoping we’re going to get people who haven’t checked out Bremerton in awhile,” she said.

Cabs will be provided to get people from downtown to Manette and back.



Another Bremerton beach house bites the dust


That little blue house perched under the Manette Bridge is soon to be demolished. 

The Bremerton City Council recently approved purchasing the home for $132,000, plus closing costs, and for the residence to be torn down.

It’s one of the few waterfront homes left. There was a day when the Bremerton waterfront was filled with such beach houses. They’ve been slowly disappearing over time. One particular day in 1990, eight of them were condemned by the city after one collapsed.

The reason you also don’t see many today is because state environmental regulations forbid building over Puget Sound. Only one now remains habitable on the Bremerton waterfront, which I wrote about last year.

The reason for the demolition this time around has to do with the city’s sewer system.

As part of the Washington Avenue project, an aging and problematic sewer line along the beach — between the boardwalk and Manette Bridge — will be closed down. Instead, sewer systems in houses along Washington Avenue now have “grinder” pumps, which pull sewage up into lines being constructed on Washington, rather than falling to the beach line below.

To install a grinder pump to the little home at 646 Washington would’ve cost around $40,000, Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin told the City Council. And in buying the house, the city will have a small slice of waterfront that could one day be developed.

“It could be beach access in the future,” Martin said.

The other reason the city bought it: officials said the house would give them something called “mitigation credits.” That’s a fancy way of saying that in the future, if there are objections to a city project for environmental reasons, the city could proceed with the project anyway because it mitigated environmental problems elsewhere.

Only Councilman Roy Runyon objected to the purchase, while the other six on the Council approved it. Runyon said he did not believe it was worth the city’s money.

UPDATE: Martin told me Friday that the home couldn’t be moved because it just wasn’t “economically viable.” Also, the city has condemned the yellow house that remains on the beach but there’s no timetable yet for demolition. The other beach house — soon the lone one left — will remain.