Category Archives: Story Walk

Is the Cove turning a corner?

Off we go. Thanks to Richard Huddy for the photo.
Off we go. Thanks to Richard Huddy for the photos.

What’s the future hold for Anderson Cove? The Bremerton neighborhood is getting a new park soon and some new life is emerging on nearby 15th Street at Wycoff Avenue.

On Saturday, a group of about 70 of us took a walk to see the changes up close. We heard from Lowell and Heidi Loxsimer, purveyors of one of Kitsap County’s best breakfasts and lunches at the Hi-Lo Cafe. Then, we ventured a half a mile on foot to the Lillian and James Walker Park, which is just about ready to open. Finally, we walked back to Bualabdh Bos, Bremerton’s new Irish pub.

Here’s some of the things we learned along the way:

Anderson’s Cove: Just who were the original residents who gave the cove its name? They are John Peter Anderson and Ellen Noren, both Swedish immigrants who were some of the first settlers in what’s now West Bremerton. According to Lois Jacobs’ Childhood Memories of Anderson’s Cove, John Peter arrived at Port Blakely in 1879 while his future wife would come to Seattle with his sister in 1888.

John Peter Anderson and Ellen Noren.
John Peter Anderson and Ellen Noren. Photo from Lois Jacobs’ Childhood Memories of Anderson’s Cove.

John Peter had a homestead of 160 acres in the area where Bremerton High School is now, selling it when he married Ellen and buying 40 acres at their now-namesake cove. Sadly, John Peter died in 1904, leaving Ellen to raise eight children on her own, not to mention tend for the couple’s cows, chickens and orchard.

The Navy took much of the land for housing to accommodate the city’s World War II building boom. Some of that housing and infrastructure exists to this day.

There was a bridge?: A bridge once crossed Anderson Cove, first to just foot traffic and later another for vehicle access, according to Jacobs. It’s hard to know where exactly the crossing was (I couldn’t find more detail) but it’s likely the cove and surrounding marshlands used to go further south, necessitating a route across them.

The Hi-Lo Cafe Secret: Heidi and Lowell Yoxsimer explained that while the food they’ve been cooking up since 2006 is a big part of their success, part of it is just enjoying themselves.

“You have to keep it fun,” Heidi said.

The cafe recently expanded to open a waiting area to give customers a place to standby until a table opens.

One thing I learned has been talk of a city plan for a Lulu D. Haddon Park business district and community hub. But Hi-Lo, it turns out, is simply ahead of its time.

James and Lillian Walker Park: Colette Berna, the city’s park architect whose works include the revamped Lions, Kiwanis and Blueberry parks, gave some history on the site. The city was able to purchase four properties and develop this .62 acre site with a $1.3 million state Department of Ecology grant. Since then, they’ve used the money to install just about every technique at capturing stormwater to keep it out of Puget Sound. That includes a sand filter collection system, pervious sidewalks, a biorention swale and a Filterra system.

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The parks department received $172,000 from the city’s allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, creating a small amphitheater,  grassy hillside and steps to the beach below. It’s slated to open in a month or two.

The park was named by the City Council for Lillian and James Walker, whose civil rights work during the war and later years made Bremerton a fairer place for all.

The Irish have arrived: To conclude the walk, we stopped in to check out the new Irish pub Bualabdh Bos (“Clap your Hands” in Gaelic). We flooded the place as it opened at 3 p.m. but Sally Carey and Mark Camp were happy to oblige. Camp, whose grandmother taught him to make savory Irish dishes like meat pies, even offered some Irish toasts like this one:

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

Thanks to everyone who made this latest Story Walk successful. See you in September for a walk through the old East High School campus. Details to come.

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Here’s links to our previous Story Walks:

Storywalking history, the Roxy, and all things hoppy

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


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

Cheat sheet: where the beer flows in Bremerton

July + Bremerton = beer. And all you need is right here in Kitsap: Nearly 400,000 gallons were produced by the county’s 11 craft breweries this past year.


I’ve got some big brewery festivities to tell you about, starting with my tour Saturday of Bremerton’s four craft breweries and finishing with Bremerton’s massive Summer BrewFest taking place on the town’s waterfront July 18. Here’s your cheat sheet:


This free Kitsap Sun tour, at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 11, will go see each of Bremertons’ four breweries. It will start downtown at LoveCraft and Wobbly Hopps Brewery, which will open soon, and then venture across the Manette Bridge to see Silver City Brewery (at the Manette Saloon) and finish at Der Blokken Brewery.

Meet at the Norm Dicks’ Government Center parking lot on Fifth Street, between Pacific and Washington avenues. Wear comfortable shoes, as we will be walking across the Manette Bridge and back.

You can RSVP here.


The Horse and Cow Pub and Grill (536 Fourth Street) will host a first anniversary block party from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. The street will be shut down and beers from the local breweries served, along with live music, barbecue and $2 burgers.


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Did I mention I host a news trivia night? On Thursday, July 16, we’ll do a local beer-inspired quiz at the Manette Saloon (2113 E. 11th Street) starting sharply at 7 p.m.

For more details, check out the Facebook invite here and be sure to RSVP. Bring a team or just bring yourself. The winning team will get beer-related prizes to take home.


On the eve of the actual BrewFest, Toro Lounge (315 Pacific Avenue) is hosting a preview featuring several local breweries. It will run from 6-8 p.m.


Aaaaand we’ve come to the main event: from noon to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18, 30 craft breweries from around Washington will pour around 100 different beers. This year — the fifth in the festival’s history — is the first time it won’t be located on Pacific Avenue, and instead will pack the Louis Mentor Boardwalk near the maria. Each year has drawn thousands of people from all over Western Washington. Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 if pre-purchased, which buys you six five-ounce tastes. Tickets can be purchased here.


That should do it, ladies and gents (let me know if I’ve missed any!). And please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have questions.

For more information about each of Kitsap County’s breweries, check out this amazing graphic my colleague Tad Sooter put together. Oh, and below, you’ll also find a full list of beers for the Summer BrewFest.


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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.


Story Walk: Come walk the new Westpark with me

Saturday's Walk; hope you can join us!
Saturday’s Walk will start at 1 p.m.; meet at Bay Vista Commons, 191 Russell Road.

One of my first times in Westpark was riding shotgun in a patrol car, trolling for suspects with warrants for their arrestThe officer I was with would simply ask for identification to run a background check. On more than a few occasions, warrants would turn up.

“Just want to make sure you’re not an ax murderer or anything,” the officer jokingly told one resident after checking his ID.

A lot has changed in 82-acre Westpark, now known as Bay Vista. Put simply: It’s not the crime haven it used to be. It took $80 million in state and federal funds to transform the place into a mixed-use development the Bremerton Housing Authority hopes will soon be filled with private investment as well. There’s already a nonprofit senior living facility and WinCo Foods. But there’s still a lot of green space to fill in.

The old Westpark sign remains in The Summit.
The old Westpark sign remains in The Summit.

On Saturday, come see it for yourself. With the help of Kurt Wiest, Bremerton Housing Authority’s executive director, we’ll walk roughly a mile or so of the development, exploring its new buildings and talking about how Wiest — a planner and housing authority veteran who came to the job primarily for redeveloping Westpark — chose to proceed on each project.

As it is the housing authority’s 75th year, we’ll also talk about the development’s past as Navy housing, its present and its future.

We hope you’ll join us for this Story Walk.

Here’s the details:

When: 1 p.m. Saturday May 23

Where: Meet at Bay Vista Commons, 191 Russell Road.

Cost: It’s free. But come ready to learn, be ready to walk and wear sturdy shoes.

For links to our previous Story Walks:

The new Lower Wheaton Way

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide


IN PHOTOS: Story Walk on Wheaton Way

Photo by Dora Henderson
Photo by Laura Henderson of the beginning of our walk.

David Wheaton was a Canadian working in Portland when he came to Bremerton to be the superintendent on the Manette Bridge project. It was 1928 and Wheaton, a partner in the Union Bridge Company, would end up spending the rest of his life here, overseeing projects like Eastpark, Casad Dam and the Warren Avenue Bridge.*

To me, history is most importantly about people and the amazing things they do, so I chose to begin our latest monthly Story Walk with a few words about him. At least 35 of you came to walk Saturday the road named for him, Wheaton Way, along the newly remade stretch. We traversed the new, almost mile-long 10-foot sidewalk and had some good discussions about the road’s past, present and future.

Mark M
Photo by Mark Alan Moshay at the midpoint.

We only got rained on one time, while we visited the site of the now deceased Maple Leaf Tavern — proof positive that there’s really no way to stay dry anywhere near that property, even when the bar is long gone.

I hope the experience was fruitful for everyone. I’m still working out the kinks for next month, but I hope you will join us in May for the next one. Watch this blog for details as I know them.

*History courtesy of the great history book “Manette Pioneering.”

Links to all of our Story Walks:

The new Lower Wheaton Way

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide

Jim S
Photo by Jim Schmidt at the end.

Come walk the new Wheaton Way with me

Little known fact: there’s actually no such thing as “Lower,” or even “Old” Wheaton Way. It’s just a title we Bremerton residents use to distinguish a meandering little thoroughfare from the much larger commercial corridor nearby.

Roots of the road date back to the 1920s. Once lined with popular spots like the Maple Leaf Tavern and the hopping Bay Bowl, it became an oddly wide street with only a few businesses left (the Bay Bowl, I should add, is now home to a Thai restaurant).


But “Lower” Wheaton Way, as it became when the Warren Avenue Bridge was built, was just reconstructed, adding wide sidewalks, bike lanes, street lamps and a new surface.

At noon on Saturday, I invite you to come out and walk this nearly mile-long stretch of revamped roadway. We’ll tell tales of its history, discuss its transformation and contemplate its future.

We’ll meet at Whitey Domstad Park, the little green space next to the Manette Bridge roundabout and just above the Boat Shed restaurant.

And speaking of local merchants, the Boat Shed and FOUND in Manette have agreed to offer 10 percent off to those who go on the Story Walk, and The Weekender on East 11th will take 15 percent off an item that day following the walk.

This is the fourth story walk of the year. Here’s links to our previous walks:

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide



IN PHOTOS: Washington Avenue, past and present

Photo by Larry Steagall.
Photo by Larry Steagall.

About 40 people came out for the third Story Walk in Bremerton of the year, meeting at Evergreen-Rotary Park on a surprisingly sunny Saturday afternoon. This time, the focus was the $3.5 million Washington Avenue project, and after an overview, we charted a course to the southeast.

Photo by Mark Henson.
Photo by Mark Henson.

I found today that there’s a pretty defined line between critics and supporters of the project. It goes like this:

Critics do not like the idea of having less of a road in and out of Bremerton (via the Manette Bridge) and believe if the city is to grow, this won’t be a helpful endeavor.

Photo by Mark Henson.
Photo by Mark Henson.

Supporters believe that the road’s eastern sidewalk has gotten so bad, drivers can afford to wait just a little longer in traffic if it means that you won’t feel like you’re going to be seriously injured if you take a wrong step.

One curious aspect of the project to me is the history behind it all. This isn’t the first time Washington Avenue’s capacity was debated and then changed — in the late 1960s, it was expanded from two lanes to four lanes.

Now, we’re going back down to two.

I have long sought documentation of the late 60s project from state and city officials, to no avail. But on Friday, I got an email from Bremerton resident Jim Herdman.

“Last night I ran across some old pictures of the widening of Washington Avenue in the late 1960’s,” he wrote to me. “Our old house that my wife and I lived in for thirty years (1974 to 2004) was located at 611 Washington, second house in from the corner of 6th and Washington.  My folks bought the house in 1957 and owned the property when the construction began.  The house on the corner was the old Red Cross Chapter before they later moved to Pacific Avenue.”

Herdman dropped off a set of photos showing construction crews tearing into yards to make the roadway bigger. I share them with you here with his permission.

The road before construction.
The road before construction.
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The work begins. Equipment goes right into residents’ yards.


Digging the hole for the retaining wall we all know and love today.
Digging the hole for the retaining wall we all know and love today.

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The road takes its new shape.


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Construction for the new project starts up in April; city officials hope the road work is done by the end of the year.

Thanks to all who came out for the story walk; mark your calendars for April 25, when we get a closer look at the Bridge to Bridge trail.

Photo by Mark Henson.
Photo by Mark Henson.

Here’s some links to our past Story Walks:

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide


Come walk Washington Avenue with me Saturday


On Saturday afternoon, I invite you to come walk and tour Bremerton’s Washington Avenue, a road that this year will be completely torn up and put back together again. As part of my monthly Story Walk series, we’ll explore all the facets of this $3.5 million project, including:

  • Where the roadway will shrink from four lanes to two, to make room for bike lanes, lighting and wider sidewalks.
  • How the project makes obsolete an environmentally troublesome beach sewer pipe, and what crews will do with it.
  • Why Evergreen-Rotary Park, too, will benefit from the project and connect the park to its new portion at the Kitsap 9/11 memorial.
  • And more!

We’ll have plenty of time for questions and Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin will be along to go over project details as well. The tour is free and I hope you can make it.

Photo by Robin Henderson.
Photo by Robin Henderson.

Here’s the facts:

What: I’ll lead a walk detailing every inch of the $3.5 million Washington Avenue project.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: It begins at the parking lot near the 9/11 Memorial at Evergreen-Rotary Park at Pacific Avenue and 13th Street. The walk will cover no more than 2 miles but be prepared for hills and possible rain.

Here’s links to our previous story walks:

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide



IN PHOTOS: A walk in the woods on a gorgeous day

Photo by Richard Huddy.
Photo by Richard Huddy.

I hope you were able to come out Saturday for our Story Walk through the Eastpark Nature Area. Around 50 of you did, exploring the dense clustering of Madrona trees that inhabit the almost 16 acre forest.

I could not have been happier with the turnout. We started with a chat in the parking lot of the Manette Mart, where I utilized the bed of Arborist Jim Trainer’s truck to address the crowd (Special thanks to Mr. Trainer for his expertise and his truck). I hope everyone learned something about these woods they did not know before.

We stopped at the entrance of the nature area where Harrison Medical Center staff and visitors enter for some photos and some more discussion. Thereafter, everyone was on their own to hike the trails.

Thanks again for coming! If you missed it, don’t worry, we’ve got more Story Walks to come this year. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s some photos from this Story Walk.

Photo by Robin Henderson.
Happy trails! Photo by Robin Henderson.
Photo by Robin Henderson.
Where we began. Photo by Robin Henderson.
A nice group pic. Photo by Richard Huddy.
A nice group pic. Photo by Richard Huddy.
And of course, this is why we were there.