Legacy of Messenger House should continue | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

I am a third generation Bainbridge Islander who is very saddened about the demise of Messenger House. This being stated, what will occupy its space is of major concern.

Messenger House, in its various names and forms, has always served the greater community in a major way. The historic significance of it cannot be overlooked in consideration of what it will become. The property was homesteaded and sold by Peter Jacobson of Manitou Park Development in 1907. Over the many years it has been:

• Manitou Park Hotel, built in 1909.

• It was leased to the NW Chautauqua Society in 1911;

• It was purchased in 1914 by Frank Moran and became a boarding school for boys, ages 13 through junior college. In 1926, it had 80 students and 45 staff members.

• The building housing Messenger House was built in 1917 and contained a dorm and dining room.

• Joseph Hill purchased it in 1938, and it became Puget Sound Naval Academy, a prep school for the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Boys 12 through 18 attended. It operated through World War II, the last class graduating in 1951.

• It became Stonehall Rehabilitation Center, providing a respite for people with crippling diseases.

• Moorehavens Inc. of Tacoma purchased it in 1960. It became Messenger House. Soundcare has operated it since 1984.

• Messenger House in on the Washington State Inventory of Cultural Resources for historical interest.

• “Messenger House is committed to serving the needs of the local community by providing a range of services tot meet the unique needs of each individual.”

The underlying there here is that of ongoing community service.

In its various forms, Messenger House has always “been there” to serve the needs of the public. In my opinion, it would be a travesty not to continue to do so in some manner. My thought is, why not turn the property into affordable housing for people who work on the Island but can’t afford to live here? It could also house those who are in need of lower income housing. Many of the necessities are already in place. The rooms are equipped with bathrooms and could become studio apartments. Some rooms could be combined to create a larger living area with two bathrooms. The dining area/kitchen could become a communal kitchen, perhaps. In short, the internal structure could be reconfigured to provide what would be needed. It would be very sad and upsetting to see this area razed to become high-end, neighborhood housing are that only a few people could afford! There are many high-end areas on the Island already and more are going in. To me, if this were to happen, would show a gross disrespect of a wonderful historic legacy, and the willingness of permitting monetary profits to lead the way once again.

The legacy of serving the greater public would end forever, should this occur. This, indeed, would be a tremendous loss of Island history and tradition, in my opinion.

RANID VOLLERS WILSON

Bainbridge Island

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