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‘Head of the Bay’: House was reminder of earlier era

The area at the head of Liberty Bay was a thriving neighborhood by the 1930s. - Poulsbo Historical Society
The area at the head of Liberty Bay was a thriving neighborhood by the 1930s.
— image credit: Poulsbo Historical Society

POULSBO — The 114-year-old, two-story house next to Dogfish Creek was torn down Aug. 27. The owners’ son took the front door as a memory and, in a matter of hours, wood and plaster and brick were trucked away.

It had been home to just a few families that saw Poulsbo grow from a small Scandinavian village barely on the map to a town that thrived on lumber, codfish and the Navy.

Ed and Ruby Lord, whose family is the last to live in the home on what is now Bond Road, knew what would happen to the house when they decided to sell the 4.7-acre property to the city. The land was cleared and is being returned to its natural state as a part of Fish Park.

“[We] preferred the house go to parks rather than on the market,” Ruby said. “I don’t know, it wasn’t a really good place for a home anymore.”

Before Bond Road was raised up, making the driveway uncomfortably steep, before businesses and roads replaced the farms once scattered along the creek, settlers built houses near the lush estuary where Dogfish Creek meets Liberty Bay.

Before the settlers arrived, there was a Suquamish village here, according to Dennis Lewarch, the Tribe’s historic preservation officer. Suquamish families left the area when the Port Madison reservation was established in 1855, and the first Scandinavian settlers arrived in the 1880s.

The home was likely built by a Scandinavian settler, in 1898. Ruby said that during remodeling in the 1970s, Ed found the inside walls covered with old Scandinavian-language newspapers as insulation. The newspapers, from Chicago, were dated 1898. The Lords also found WWII-era newspapers wrapped around pipes under the house.

The Lords moved into the house as a young family, renting for two years before buying the house in 1969. Ruby and Ed are from Chehalis, and moved around for nine years when Ed went into the Navy. They settled in Poulsbo when Ed began working at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.

“The kids loved being in the creek,” Ruby said, remembering lots of baths afterward.

AJ Fureby, nee Watland, of the Poulsbo Historical Society, said her family lived in the house in the early 20th century. Sigried Larson and her sons were farming across the creek from the house then; an elm tree planted during that era still thrives there.

According to the book, “The Spirit of Poulsbo,” the area was commonly called the Head of the Bay. Fureby’s cousin, Pearl Watland Cooper, going on 87 and living in Belfair, lived in the house when she was a child, in 1934. At that time, the head of the bay was a thriving neighborhood with a cafe, dairy, grocery, school, service station and shingle mill.

Cooper, the granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants, attended Harding Grade School, a two-room schoolhouse at what is now Bond and 305. Her father owned a gas station at what is now Bond and Lindvig Way. Her mother worked for the Pacific Coast Codfish Co. Poulsbo had 640 residents then, “a village,” Cooper called it.

On the creekside property, Cooper remembers a barn, a windmill, a garage, an outhouse and lots of fruit trees; pear trees still bear fruit there. She remembers swimming in the creek. She had a row boat and one time captured an octopus.

Cooper’s family sold the house in the 1950s, she said. Tax records state Raymond and Alice Nickelson and Harry Hinson bought the property from Joseph Enoman in 1952.

Ruby Lord said she and Ed rented from the Nickelsons before buying the property in 1969.

She admits there was a lump in her throat as she talked about the house.

“We lived there for a long time. It’s where we raised our kids. Our grandkids love it there,” she said. She said she first wanted the house to remain, to be a part of the historic record, perhaps be used as a caretaker’s home for the park. But the grant the city received to buy the property stipulated there be no buildings on the property, said Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey.

The Lords sold their home to the city for $300,000, although its value was estimated at just over $200,000 in 2011, according to the Kitsap County Assessor’s Office. The city used grant dollars, matched with funds and volunteer labor, to buy the property, McCluskey said.

Fish Park has grown parcel by parcel in the last 10 years, and is now 36.25 acres with 1.5 miles of trails. Funding for the park has come through grants, donations and community volunteers.

The city still needs to file permits to develop the property and hasn’t decided what to do yet, McCluskey said. A small parking lot, picnic area or observation station are all being considered, and she said the city has $200,000 left for the project.

“The property will be used, that’s the main thing,” Ruby said.

 

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