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Community rallies to save cabins

They won’t go down without a fight.

The log cabins, that is.

That was the message of 15 people who attended a Tuesday, March 26, meeting organized after Kitsap County officials announced the likely demolition of the structures by April 23. The buildings currently are stored near the corner of Stampede Boulevard and Fairgrounds Road.

Pacific Northwest Photographic Society (PNPS) members, history buffs and former cabin residents discussed ideas and committed to saving the structures.

“If we don’t get people going, they are going to disappear fast,” PNPS President Ken Kramer said during the meeting at the Fairgrounds.

The new KitsapKids Playground is slated to be built where the cabin and stable now stand. The structures must be moved if there is any hope of restoring them, according to Lauran Erickson, the county’s fair and special events manager.

Built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the cabin and stable were moved by barge in 1971 from the former Naval Ammunition Depot — now part of the Jackson Park Housing Development — to Silverdale Waterfront Park. A caretaker lived in the cabin, which also served as an American Indian center.

The stable was used to store items for the Kitsap County Historical Society.

When Waterfront Park was redeveloped in 1991, the structures were moved to their current location.

The buildings have twice been nominated for the National Historic Register, according the Pamela Kruse-Buckingham, director of the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum. But they likely are ineligible because they were moved from the ammunition depot, she said.

Vandals have damaged the buildings, but photographic society members have worked for the past two years to maintain the land around them.

“(Vandals) have ripped up the sheetrock upstairs, written graffiti, poked holes in the floor and broken windows,” Kramer said. “But it is not something that can’t be repaired.”

County officials fear someone trespassing in them might be hurt, Kramer reported.

Officials aren’t yet sure how much it will cost to demolish the buildings, Erickson said, but the county might be willing to use the money to move them instead of raze them.

The buildings have been condemned and asbestos discovered inside is slated to be removed in the coming weeks.

Erickson said the stable is likely beyond repair, an assessment with which some audience members disagreed.

Meeting attendees considered many uses for the buildings. Kramer suggested they be used as a photography showplace. Former Bremerton mayor Gene Nelson and ex-county commissioner Bill Mahan said they wanted to see the “frontier village” concept, first floated in the early 1990s, revisited.

The cabin could be combined with a blacksmith shop and an old-time store for a fair exhibit, the men said.

Some suggested the buildings could be moved to South Kitsap.

Kruse-Buckingham said demolishing the cabins has been discussed before, but the project is expensive and no one has produced the funds needed for repair.

“I think some people were really down on the county, but the county is committed to historical preservation. These cabins have languished over the years. The longer they sit, the more expensive it gets,” she said.

Sisters want childhood home preserved

Pat Seamans remembers the morning a white foal was born in the stable that now stands rotting on Stampede Boulevard. Then and now, the stable is adjacent to a cabin in which Seamans and her sister, Paulette Colebank, lived with their grandparents and mother from 1947-1950.

They are now fighting to save it from being destroyed.

“You wouldn’t believe how darling it was,” Seamans said. “It was very homey and very Western. It had a huge stone fireplace.”

Their grandfather was the head gardener at the Naval Ammunition Depot, which is now the Jackson Park Housing Development.

The women and their husbands have joined a task force to save the structures. Like others, they hope the buildings can be used as part of a frontier village, that might include a blacksmith shop and an old-time general store, at the Fairgrounds.

“We want to save it for the future. The kids would love to see it,” Colebank said.

Want to help?

For more information about efforts to save the 67-year-old cabin and stable, e-mail to logcabinproject@aol.com or call 698-1259.

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