Another memorial milestone

Not a week goes by, it seems, without some promising development on the Pritchard Park/Internment Memorial front.

For those who may have missed the Bainbridge Island City Council’s deliberations Wednesday, we can report that efforts to construct a memorial to the World War II Japanese American relocation took another significant stride. By resolution, the council formalized its partnership with the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community in developing the Taylor Avenue site, and authorized the use of $500,000 in previously secured grant funding – part of a $1.48 million award from the state – for early-phase permitting and site preparation. This, while fund-raising to complete acquisition of the rest of the greater Pritchard Park site continues apace, as do efforts by BIJAC and related interests to fund the complete memorial and interpretive site, estimated to cost $4 million.

As announced at Wednesday’s meeting, the latest to join the cause is a group called the Timber Framers Guild, a nationwide collective of master craftsmen dedicated to preserving and advancing the construction techniques of yore – no nails, no bolts, no brackets, but rather, “the centuries-old construction system of large wooden posts and beams.” The guild adopts significant projects by which to demonstrate its construction techniques and provide service to communities.

Working in conjunction with island architect Johnpaul Jones (who was previously commissioned to design the memorial), the Timber Framers Guild craftsmen have devised a picturesque wooden gate (a rough rendering of which is shown) through which visitors to the internment memorial will someday pass. The craftsmen will donate their time and expertise to the project; the Port Orford cedar from which it will be crafted is being provided by an Oregon firm, with cedar and copper shingles that will “age to a fine patina” as accents.

The gate will be constructed in a public demonstration sometime next month and will sit outside the Winslow post office to raise awareness of the memorial project.

“This is a huge gift,” BIJAC member Clarence Moriwaki tells us. “This is something we would have had to design and construct sometime down the road, and these wonderful new friends want to give it to us now.”

Interestingly, while the gate will feature traditional Japanese elements, its design has been retooled a bit to downplay its Asian-ness – a deliberate move. “We want to honor our past,” Moriwaki tells us, “but reflect something that is truly Bainbridge Island, and American.”

What better month to build such a gate than July. Watch the Review for more announcements on its construction.

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