New year finds historic Fort Ward bakery restoration in full swing

FORT WARD, BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Happy New Year from Friends of Fort Ward and the Fort Ward Community Hall project! 

The turning calendar finds us knee-deep in sawdust, awash in the vigorous clatter of our historic bakery restoration (minor pause for the holidays), and propelled by great press coverage and your ongoing enthusiasm and support en route to project completion in 2019. From a dream, to a concept, to a plan, to this moment: the Fort Ward Community Hall is happening

For friends, fans and supporters at every level, THANK YOU for a fantastic past 12 months in which we’ve accomplished so much. On the threshold of the new year, here’s what’s going on: 

An ace team from Lake Stevens-based Masonry Restoration Consulting has been onsite for the past six weeks, giving our little brick bakery a thorough makeover. These skilled masons recently reopened all windows and doors bricked over by the Navy back in the 1940s, and are now replacing damaged bricks and generally giving the building envelope a good nip and tuck. 

We’ve posted video and stills of their work on our Facebook page and homepage, so you can see these skilled craftsmen in action. It’s painstaking work, and possibly the biggest single component of the restoration … but it’s a brick building, so you’d expect that. Bricks are its essence, so they deserve the attention. 

This phase of the restoration is funded in part by a Sivinski Grant from the WA Trust for Historic Preservation. Recall that this prestigious award was Our Very First Grant (way back in December 2015!), and we’re pleased to finally be spending the “brick & mortar” money on actual brick and mortar. Cheers to the WA Trust for all they do for the cause of historic preservation, and their early support of the bakery restoration. 
Fill and grading for the community hall’s new parking lot begins in early January. The schematics look complicated, but three key points: the drainage will boast custom filtration to keep pollutants out of the waters of Rich Passage, we’re keeping asphalt to a minimum, and we saved most of the significant trees. Design is by Browne Wheeler Engineers, with grading and earthwork by Dale Flodin and island-based South Point Development.  

The slate specialist from Hanley Construction will be on the roof in the next few weeks, tweaking the bakery’s slate shingles to keep the Northwest winter out. The beautiful slate roof is one of the 1910 building’s signature elements, and we’re glad to be shoring it up for another 100 years. Slate tiles for the patch-up are being contributed by the Dennon family on Parkview Drive, supplementing a cache of tiles from top-secret Station S

Those new porch beams custom milled by David Kotz Woodworking will be fitted soon, vintage exterior doors and fanlights installed, and the bakery’s original façade finally restored. Our next big purchase: custom-crafted, period-correct windows. We think we have a vendor picked out, and we’ll be reviewing their proposal and placing an order in the coming days. Plus LOTS more work on the building interior as the community hall’s public spaces take shape … 

Casey Johnson and the team at Port Madison Wood Floors stepped up this year as major contributors – this excellent island firm is donating materials for a beautiful white oak hardwood floor in the hall’s main room. A tremendous gift, which everyone who uses the building will enjoy. Flooring installation and finishing costs will be funded through a community grant by the Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation. We expect the floor to go in sometime in March.  

More big thanks to the Suquamish Foundation for a recent $500 grant. Our neighbors across the bridge have been staunch supporters of our Fort Ward project, with the Foundation’s contributions totaling $4,000 to date. 

Many thanks also to the private donors who’ve given throughout the past year – you know who you are. If you don’t, check out our Donor Wall and look for your name! (And your friends’ names.)

Donations continue to roll in through One Call For All – we are enjoying great support in this, our final Red Envelope campaign. If you’ve given previously, we are so grateful – you’ve gotten us this deep into the bakery restoration. If you want to pad your support or want to join the campaign for the first time, now’s your chance to make your mark on this neighborhood-driven, historic preservation effort. 

The Fort Ward Community Hall project remains a three-way partnership of Friends of Fort Ward, the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District, and Kitsap County (Fort Ward) Sewer District No. 7. We’re also grateful for the ongoing support of Wenzlau Architects, Browne Wheeler Engineers, and Tina Gilbert of the OTWB Inc. project management firm. And our onsite team of David, Casey and Sean from BI Parks. And many, many others! 

And so… Welcome 2019! The year we bring the Fort Ward Community Hall project home – for Bainbridge Island, for historic preservation, for community, all thanks to the continued enthusiasm and support of … You.  

— Douglas Crist, Candy Merifield, Christina Doherty, Ellie Montaperto, Wesley Dreiling & Kate MerifieldFriends of Fort Ward (withbonus thanks from and to the Fort Ward Youth Committee members emeritus: Aila, Erik, Mark, Rachel, Marina, Mallory & Stella)