Port Madison Enterprises purchases Kiana Lodge

SUQUAMISH — While the ownership of the Kiana Lodge may have recently changed hands, the new proprietors don’t plan on touching a thing on the 1,000-foot, no-bank waterfront property that has been the site for weddings, conventions and retreats for several decades.

That’s what officials with Port Madison Enterprises are assuring, with their recent purchase of the nearly 6-acre waterfront property tucked away on Sandy Hook Road.

“It fills the need for meeting spaces and weddings, which the community obviously desires,” PME’s chief executive officer Russell Steele said. “It’s a pristine location. We certainly want to keep it as is — we don’t want to change it. What (former owner Bob Riebe) has done with it has been successful.”

According to the Kitsap County Assessor’s Office, the site sold for $4 million.

Steele said PME, which is the economic arm of the Suquamish Tribe, would like to put together a book about the lodge due to its long history on the waters of Suquamish.

The property was originally purchased for summer home residences in the 1930s and a community lodge was then constructed as well (which remains today as the main lodge). During World War II, the property was occupied by the Army as an aircraft battery station to protect Keyport and Bremerton, but was released back into the owner’s hands after the war was over.

The site was eventually sold to Richard White, famous for the Foster-White Art Galleries in Seattle and for restoring Pioneer Square. One of White’s bartenders, Riebe, purchased the property in 1979 and recently sold it to PME. Riebe will stay on PME’s staff as a consultant to the lodge.

The tribe has been working to acquire the property for about 20 years, said tribal spokesperson Leonard Forsman.

“It was on the reservation, it seemed appropriate for the tribe to have it,” he said, noting PME wants to maintain it as the “community institution” it has come to be. “It’s a part of the greater mission to be a significant part of Kitsap County.”

Forsman also has a personal connection with the lodge, as his mother, Helen Forsman, worked there for years as a cook and manager. He recalled when he was a salmon cooker and his mom was running the kitchen.

“I was more into making sure the fish was just right,” he said with a laugh.

During his 25-year tenure as owner, Riebe didn’t touch the property other than adding walking paths and new landscaping, such as the thousands of tulips and daffodils that were planted for this spring, as well as maintaining the begonia garden on the south side of the main lodge.

Riebe decided to sell it to PME because it felt appropriate.

“There are a lot of people interested in Kiana,” Riebe explained. “But when talking with the principals at Port Madison Enterprises, I figured (they) will have the greatest potential of keeping it the way it is.”

“Bring it further into bloom,” Forsman said about possibly bringing a more tribal or cultural aspect to the facilities. “Compliment what is already here.”

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