Historical houses primed for tour

PORT GAMBLE — Port Gamble is again taking center stage in an effort to help raise money for the Kitsap Arts & Crafts scholarship fund — this time it’s sharing its history.

Last year, volunteers set up a historical house tour with just a little time to plan. This time around, they started early and are excited by the possibilities of sharing stories and facts from the old mill town with visitors.

“It’s going to be fantastic,” said Kitsap Arts & Crafts president Glea Branstetter. “We’ve got four houses open and merchants are ready to welcome everybody. Janis at the tea house is making chocolates so everyone will have chocolate.”

Many of the homes, along with other historical buildings, are occupied and rarely opened to the public. This is one chance for history buffs to get a peek inside, said Kitsap Arts and Crafts member Corrine Miller. Docents will be stationed at each of the structures to offer tidbits of information and insight going along with each building.

“What’s happening is they are providing docents that have read through historic reports of Port Gamble,” said Port Gamble event coordinator Julie McAfee. “And on top of that they’ve spoken with people who have lived or worked in the buildings.”

People taking the tour could hear everything from ghost stories and fond memories to holiday events that took place in each area. The buildings on the tour will include the Walker Ames House, the fire hall, the Pope and Talbot boardroom, House No. 19, House No. 26, House No. 57, House No. 69 which is also the town’s bed and breakfast, the theater and post office building, the Masonic Lodge and St. Paul’s Church.

To protect the structures in case of inclement weather, Harrison Hospital donated 300 pairs of booties to put over muddy shoes, Branstetter said. The booties will protect the historic floors and keep the current residents from having to clean up too much after visitors leave.

“This tour will go on rain or shine,” Miller said. “All the proceeds are going to our scholarships.”

Much of the town was constructed in 1853 or shortly thereafter when the mill was built and started operation. It is one of just a few historical towns on the national registry, and a few years ago underwent improvements to pull the town out of an economic slump that started in 1995 when the mill closed.

“(The tour) should be really interesting to history buffs,” McAfee said.

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