Kitsap Cabin Restoration Project

The Mountaineers Players owe a debt of gratitude to Jamie Gordon, longtime member of The Mountaineers Players who spearheaded the Kitsap Restoration Project that started in 2001. Here is his story of those challenging times in the Players history and the history of Kitsap Cabin. 

Kitsap Cabin Restoration, by Jamie Gordon

October 5th, 2000 was a very dark day for Kitsap Cabin. The Mountaineers Board of Trustees voted unanimously to close Kitsap Cabin and 6 other buildings on the property. This action was due to an adverse report from a restoration architect hired by the club to examine the buildings. At that meeting the Kitsap Restoration Committee was formed. It consisted of Bob Davis and Glenn Eades from the Board; Ted Bradshaw and Jamie Gordon from the Kitsap/Players Committee; Morris Moen from the Mountaineers Foundation; and Steve Costie, the club’s Executive Director. The committee considered the effect on the Players operation and how to go about re-opening the building. A decision was made to modify the woodshed into a make-shift kitchen and dining area for the following play season. The committee also looked at a retrofit plan obtained from Robert Morrison, a structural engineer from Poulsbo, hired by the Kitsap Cabin Committee to study the Cabin’s problems.

The closure sent a shock through the Players’ community that was palpable. Would the show be possible without the Cabin? What could we do in the interim? The Players Committee voted to perform The Music Man at the theater the following year despite the set-back. An e-mail sent to the executive director said, “We are the Mountaineers Players. We perform in the Kitsap Forest Theater. Performing the Spring Show anywhere else is totally, eternally, and perpetually unacceptable.” The clear message given to the Board was that the Kitsap/Players committee would not allow the Cabin to be lost, and that the show would go on. Work parties were run from December until April to clear debris, add running water, increase electrical capacity, and enhance lighting in the woodshed. A fire pit and a retractable tarp ‘roof’ were also erected. The Music Man was performed on-schedule at the Kitsap Forest Theater in 2001, without the use of Kitsap Cabin.

In February 2001, The Mountaineers Foundation passed a resolution to accept donations for the restoration of Kitsap Cabin, if a State historical designation were obtained. A committee was formed to prepare the application. The committee consisted of Jamie Gordon, Morris Moen, and Mardette Sanders. On June 1, 2001, the State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation listed the Kitsap Cabin/Forest Theatre Historic District on the Washington Heritage Register due to its historic, cultural, and architectural significance.

The Kitsap/Players committee began official fundraising on June 1, 2001. Prior to the historical listing, they had collected pledges of $22,500. The Foundation voted to match the first $25,000 of contributions after these initial pledges. Work on the building’s foundation could only start after $75,000 was raised. By the beginning of July, $32,000 had been raised, and $60,000 by its end. On October 8, 2001, The Mountaineers Foundation transferred $94,022 of raised funds to the Club for the Cabin restoration project.

As part of the fundraising effort, The Mountaineer Players staged a repeat performance of The Music Man on August 25, 2001. The cast and crew of over 50 people came together to recreate this wonderful show. Incredibly, all of the participants of the original show were available for the benefit performance. The admission was by donation, with a suggested minimum of $25.00. Walt Foster served as the Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon. The program started with a brief rundown of the Cabin restoration project, followed by an auction of a cameo role in the show. Two ‘roles’ in the Well’s Fargo Wagon number were sold at $250 each. The ‘Pick-A-Little’ ladies’ hats were sold after the show to an enthusiastic response. Craig McCoy, portraying one of the salesmen on the train, even sold certificates for fictitious Red Iron Anvils. The event raised a total of $10,832.

Work by volunteers to prepare the Cabin for restoration started on September 8, 2001, and continued for a total of 6 weekends, ending on November 18, 2001. The amount of work done in this short period of time was incredible. The Cabin was cleared of items, the front porch was demolished and removed, the fireplace was dismantled (rocks catalogued, sorted, and cleaned) and two 30-foot trenches were dug and conduit placed in them for future electrical use. The Reihit Company of Port Angeles, who was contracted to build the foundation, started work in late November 2001, and continued until late January 2002. In April 2002, Bird Electric of Poulsbo replaced the electrical service and installed several hundred feet of buried cable to the pump house and Toutle (bathroom) buildings.

The stone mason, Kris Sorensen of Suquamish, worked on the fireplace and chimney (with the help of many volunteers) from March until August 2002. The chimney reconstruction was beautifully done. Kris’ attention to detail and high standards are evident in the fireplace and chimney that we now enjoy. See pictures and story by Kris here: chimney reconstruction project.

Our own Brad Griffith, proprietors of Home Maintenance & Improvement of Sequim, constructed the new porches and disabled access ramp. Volunteers started picking back up on the weekend of February 9, 2002 and held nine work party weekends through the middle of May. The area was cleaned up for the Players’ 2002 season: trenches dug and new waterlines installed, decking screwed down on the porches, and lots of construction debris hauled away. The Players had to rent generators for set construction on State Fair because the Theater had no electricity, due to delays in starting the electrical work. The Players were still not allowed to use the cabin for a second year, but they were able to cook in the kitchen (and serve everyone outside).

The Mountaineer Board of Trustees voted unanimously to re-open Kitsap Cabin at their April 5, 2002 meeting, just 18 months after it was closed. Steve Costie, the Club’s Executive director, in an e-mail to the Kitsap/Players committee, wrote,

“I again take my hat off to you and the entire cast of the ‘production’ at Kitsap. The ongoing energy and perseverance of you and your team is truly amazing. We all recognize the potential for being dejected and “down” when it comes to dealing with disagreeable or difficult situations. We also recognize that adversity can bring out the best in a team. In the case of Kitsap Cabin issue, I am proud to say that the volunteer effort to save the cabin and the 2001 play is without equal. Please extend to the Kitsap team my heart-felt congratulations on earning re-occupancy of the cabin. There is no finer example of volunteer success than the Kitsap Restoration project.”

The fireplace was finished in August, and, after the month-long curing process, a ‘first fire’ ceremony was held at Kitsap Cabin on September 28, 2002. The stone mason and many of the volunteers that worked so hard the previous year, shared dinner and the warmth of the first fire in the cabin since October 2000.

Pictures of many of these workparties and the work accomplished can be seen in our photo gallery

The fundraising and the restoration work continued. The cabin had a new roof installed in 2003. The Cabin was resided and windows reconditioned in 2008. The shower and bath building (Toutle) was re-roofed in 2010. 

The effort continues, but the urgency and the alarm of the closure have passed. The diligence and hard work of the Kitsap/Players committee between June of 2001 and September of 2002 is unmatched in the long history of the committee. This effort is widely recognized around the club as a shining example of volunteers overcoming great obstacles to achieve great things. Happily, the cabin will remain open for a very long time to come. 

Here is the Bremerton Sun article (Volunteers Help Rebuild Kitsap Cabin) written by Ann Vogel on June 9, 2002 about the Kitsap Cabin rebuild. Here is the Mountaineer Magazine article (Volunteers Help Rebuild Kitsap Cabin) written by Jamie Gordon on November 2003  about the ongoing effort to save Kitsap Cabin.

The Mountaineers Players thank The Mountaineers Foundation for their support and help in raising money for this effort. And a very special thank you goes to Jamie Gordon and the team of volunteers who gave thousands of hours of volunteer time to work on this restoration and to the many donors (large and small) for giving sacrificially to save Kitsap Cabin so that the "show may go on".

The Kitsap Forest Theater and property need ongoing maintenance and rebuilding. We are always looking for volunteer help and donations to help keep this theater and property functioning. Please consider donating  and volunteering today.