Historical museum is coming to town...‘soon’

Structure’s third move is a first for the historical society.

Next week won’t be the first time Bainbridge Islanders have seen parts of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum trucked down the road. But it will still be the most important move in the museum’s history.

The museum’s centerpiece, a 95-year-old, one-room school, has a new home in downtown Winslow, thanks to the city and hundreds of supporters who are helping with the move. For the first time in the history of the Bainbridge Island Historical Society, it will have a site that visitors can walk to from the ferry terminal.

The first part of the museum’s move from Strawberry Hill Park to Ericksen Avenue is expected to take place “sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day,” according to Tom Shields, the Bainbridge Island Historical Society’s project manager.

“Part” means exactly that. Part. The first part the moving contractor plans to move is the prefabricated annex behind the former Island Center School. The schoolhouse will follow sometime between Jan. 15 and 20, if all goes according to plan, Shields said.

So far, nothing has gone according to plan. The first move date had been scheduled in early December and was set back several times because of the moving company’s other commitments, the weather and even illness.

Another major factor in the delays has been finding a date when electrical and telephone company crews will be available to lift transmission wires over the top of the structures as they proceed down the city’s roadways.

The schoolhouse has been through this before. It probably has more mileage on it than any other building on the island. Built in 1908, the school was Island Center’s second grade school.

A decade after the island’s small districts consolidated, the building was trucked up High School Road to Bainbridge High School where it was used until the 1960s as a band and chorus classroom.

The school district gave the building to the society in 1968, and it was trucked to its present location in Strawberry Hill Park. The society brought in a prefabricated annex during the 1990s to provide storage for the museum’s growing collection and work space for staff.

Big move

Placing the annex behind the schoolhouse was not an easy job. Getting it out in one piece may be even more difficult.

The moving contractor has even talked about cutting the annex in half to move it in pieces.

Several weeks ago, the society’s building committee discussed whether it would be cheaper to demolish the old annex and build an entirely new one on the new site.

The issue is still on the table, but Shields said he believes the society will save money by salvaging the old structure.

The schoolhouse will look pretty much the same in the new location, but the annex will not.

A basement has been built and a new atrium-entrance will connect the schoolhouse with the rebuilt and extended annex. Storage and curatorial space will be in the basement. The annex will house staff offices, the museum’s library and an exhibit area. The target date for reopening the facility is in early April, but that will depend on when the move and reconstruction are completed, Shields said.

The route the mover and his vehicles will take hasn’t been announced.

At one point, officials discussed having the trucks drive east to Finch Road, then south on Finch to Wyatt, and then up Wyatt to Madison Avenue. The crew also discussed using High School Road all the way to Madison Avenue.

No one knows what time of day the move will take place, not even the contractor, Shields said.

“They don’t know how long it will take to get the building jacked up and hoisted onto the truck,” he said. “When it’s ready to go, they’ll go.”

Residents can follow the progress of the move on the historical society’s website at

Jack Swanson is acting director of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

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