Historic Preservation Commission presents 2012 Blakely Awards

Bainbridge Island is continuously changing. Though while some look to the future of the island city, there are still many who look to its past with pride.

The Blakely Awards are given out each year by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission as a way to honor community members who are actively preserving island history. Islanders Jeff and Jocelyn Waite and Michael Yates have been honored as the 2012 recipients of the Blakely Award.

There are two awards presented: the Leader Award for islanders who take the initiative to tell the island’s story, and the Project Excellence Award for projects that preserve historic structures or sites.

This is the second year that the commission’s honor has been bestowed upon community members.

Jeff and Jocelyn Waite earned this year’s leadership award through their continuing efforts to highlight the island’s story through their work at the Harbor Pub.

“We feel we have a story to tell. We aren’t just here to sell burgers and fish and chips,” said co-owner of the pub Jocelyn Waite. “We are proud of the building itself and Bainbridge island as our home.”

Waite spent four years growing up in the historic building that houses the pub. Through the efforts of her parents, and then herself, the building was salvaged and preserved in what was originally the home of Ambrose Grow, built in 1881 on the shores of Eagle Harbor.

Grow was one of the original settlers and founders of the community that would one day be called Winslow.

“It was an old farmhouse and it was in pretty bad condition,” Waite recalled.

Grow’s home is now a living testament to the island’s history to locals and visitors alike. The Waites have regularly brought in photo exhibits from the island’s historical museum, such as those displaying old ships in the harbor or Winslow as it used to be.

Even their menus bear historical stories, as well as the history being made by modern islanders.

“We feel we have a lot to talk about and use the menu to talk about it,” Waite said. “And a lot of that is history.”

“It’s the format of an old newspaper,” she added. “You feel the history looking at it.”

Island history and pride has been incorporated into the Waites’ work ethic, which is why they were honored this year with the Blakely Award.

“The efforts they have made to help visitors to Bainbridge or residents be far more aware of the history of this island,” said Stephanie Hanna, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission.

“They rotate through their menu with historic news. They have not only preserved the buildings that they use, but they are building on the memory of what historic Bainbridge was like,” Hanna said.

Also honored with the Blakely Award for Project Excellence was Michael Yates of Wing Point.

Instead of tearing down a nearly 100-year-old log house on his property and replacing it with something more modern, he remodeled and preserved the structure.

“The Yates home was renovated without being ruined,” Hanna said. “He saved what he could save of it, and added a wrap around deck that is covered and protects the logs from further weathering.”

While most shoreline properties are purchased and then redeveloped, Yates took a more conservative approach by preserving a piece of island history.

The home is the last surviving structure from a set of three log cabins built near the end of Eagle Harbor. The homes were built in the early 1900s and constructed from salvaged logs. The logs were transported to the site by being dragged behind horses.

“They show the log chinking of Scandinavian-style houses,” Hanna said.

The house now resembles a pastoral scene from the Northwest’s frontier past.

“What he did was, over a three-year period of time, make it a livable space without destroying it,” Hanna said.

Also recognized this year was Meg Hageman.

The Historic Preservation Commission presented Hageman with a certificate for the many years she spent as owner of the historic Captain’s House Bed & Breakfast on Parfitt Way.

“She has operated that bed-and-breakfast for more than 20 years,” Hanna said. “She nurtured the bushes planted ages ago and has really worked her entire professional life to keep the Captain’s House the way it was.”

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