WEST SIDE IMPROVEMENT CLUB STARTED DECEMBER 28, 1932
OR WRITE TO US:
The following is a brief history of the West Side Improvement Club which has been taken mostly from the early records of the club, newspaper articles, and input from its members.
The date was December 28, 1932, and the place was the Navy Yard City School. A caring and dedicated group of people met, and what was later to become the West Side Improvement Club was born. These seventeen individuals from the community patterned the club after the other improvement clubs in existence at the time. Acting in an advisory capacity at the time were members from the East Bremerton Improvement Club and the Greater Bremerton Improvement Club. The Club's interests coined the motto “ A BIGGER AND BETTER NEIGHBORHOOD”.
The problems to come before the club were much the same as they are today; Roads, Water, Sewers, Lights, Schools, and Parks, those things that make a community a desirable place in which to live.
The club originally met at the Navy Yard City School and the Bremerton Booster Club. In May of 1933, a special meeting was held to negotiate the purchase of 20 lots for the purpose of building a clubhouse. The project was started later that year with assistance from the county providing equipment to help level and grade the building site. During this time the club activities included clearing roadbeds into the community, getting water and sewer improvements to the Navy Yard City area. The building was all-volunteer by club members with numerous work parties and fundraising events.
The clubhouse was near 60 percent complete in early 1937 when assistance was received from the “Works Progress Administration” (WPA) to provide labor to make the finishing work to complete the clubhouse and accomplish a playfield project on the grounds. Other projects accomplished during this period included the Silverdale community house (current Scout hall) and the installation of concrete for Cline Street in Port Orchard going to the courthouse.
The clubhouse was dedicated Friday, June 25, 1937, and stands today as a shining example of the determination of the original 17 members with a can-do attitude.
WSIC and the War
The clubhouse was temporarily vacated by its members following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The clubhouse became the regimental headquarters for the Armies 202nd Coast Artillery. Searchlight and gun batteries sprouted up everywhere along with barrage balloons at strategic locations to protect the numerous Navy installations in the county.
Through the years numerous projects have been undertaken to improve the neighborhood and provide assistance to charitable associations as funds allowed. Several improvements to the clubhouse were accomplished over the years, installation of a hardwood dance floor, building two meeting rooms to the building to reduce traffic on the hardwood floors, and the addition of increased storage modernization of the kitchen and restrooms for handicap accessible.
Timeline - The Start
On December 28, 1932, at the Navy Yard City School, the first meeting of the West Side Improvement Club was held. The following is taken from the book presented to the club by the son of the first Secretary of the club Wm. J. Mitchell.
The Organization of the West Side Improvement Club was started by the following members. Mr. & Mrs. Crawford, Mr. & Mrs. Fuller, Mr. & Mrs. McCarty, Mr. Richmaond, Mitchell, Hurd, Emery, Cristen, O’Brien, Greenwood, Schulthies, Farrell, Madden, Young, and Mr. Force.
The following officer was elected; Mr. O. H. Force, President; Mr. Clay Madden, Vice President; Wm. J. Mitchell, Secretary, Russell Schulthies, Treasurer. Acting in an advisory capacity were Earl Harkins, Floyd Solid, and Roy Ellis of the East Bremerton Improvement Club. Otto Schulthies and G. F. Walker of the Greater Bremerton Improvement Club.
Meetings of the West Side Improvement Club were held in the Olympic Booster Club Hall for a rate of $1.50 per month.
During the first year of operation, the club worked on local road improvements, improving water pressure to the area and reducing the water rates charged for the area. Projects included making street signs for the area and installing them.
March 6, 1933, a talk was given by L. C. Solid of the East Bremerton Improvement Club, this club operating for the last 3 years.
Meeting of 3 April 1933, report that meeting held with City Commissioner Casade stated that all residents not receiving sufficient water are offered a flat rate of $2.00 per month and that larger lines may be laid after streets are graded.
Meeting of 1 May 1933, the building committee inspected several sites for a clubhouse with lots on the east side of Charleston Ave, between 2nd and 3rd considered the best suited for a clubhouse.
Meeting of 8 May 1933, to meet with county commissioner to ask that land be donated to the club and authorized to offer $50 dollars for the twenty lots.
Meeting of 5 June 1933, Ladies will meet to form an auxiliary.
Meeting 7 August 1933, suggested that a card party be held once a month to help the building fund and to be held at the Olympic Booster Club.
Meeting 11 September 1933, clearing of club site began and were aided by the use of county road equipment.
Bremerton Searchlight, Thursday, June 24, 1937
West Side Club Dedicates New Clubhouse Friday Eve. The realization of more than four years of planning and hard work will be celebrated tomorrow when the West Side Improvement Club opens its clubhouse and playfield with fitting dedicatory services.
In a program to begin at 7:30 at the new clubhouse, members of the club and visitors from the entire city will view the accomplishments of the organization in providing the Navy Yard City and Bremerton Heights district with a large clubhouse and spacious playfield.
Wallace Kelso, director of education and recreation for the state Works Progress Administration office, will be the featured speaker of the evening. The WPA has had an important part in the construction of the clubhouse and playfield, furnishing labor for the project originally opened by the club members.
Purchased Lots - In June of 1933, the club purchased 18 lots on which to build a clubhouse and playfield. After a series of fund-raising ventures, the members decided the club was financially able to start work on the clubhouse, so in the spring of 1934 ground was broken for the present building.
When the structure was approximately 60 percent completed, a playfield project was submitted to the WPA and approved. The project also provided for the labor to finish the clubhouse. On Jan 4, 1937, exactly four years after the club was formed, the WPA began work on the job.
Present officers of the club are W. J. Mitchell, president; R. G. Prichard, vice-president, R. J. Schultheis, secretary; Mrs. R. J. Schultheis, treasurer; R. E. Heitzman, Louis LaFontaine, and R. G. Hurd, members of the executive board; W. R. McCary, trustees. The total membership of the club at present is 180 members.
The complete program for tomorrow night’s dedicatory exercises follows:
Kelley’s Hill Billies; invocation, Rev T. M. Pyle of the Charleston Baptist church; welcoming address, President W. J. Mitchell, community singing, led by Mrs. William Bibbens, presentation of the past president of the club and presentation of officers of the ladies; auxiliary and officers and committee chairmen of the club; Scotch ballads, Mrs. Watt.
Recognition of delegates from civic organizations and presentation of distinguished guests; musical entertainment. Kelly’s Hill Billies; address, Wallace Kelso, speaker of the evening; vocal selection; a quartet of the U. S. S. Pennsylvania; dedication remarks, Vice-President Prichard; dancing from 9:30 to 12:30.
West Side Clubhouse Held to be ‘Ideal’ WPA project
Justly proud of their achievement, members of the West Side Improvement club entertained scores of guests last night as they dedicated their new clubhouse, a modern, roomy structure in Navy Yard City.
Approximately 400 persons attended the dedication ceremonies and the dance which followed.
It was an important evening for the West Side Club, organized four years ago. For three of those four years, the members have centered their efforts upon completion of the clubhouse and recreation field. Considerable assistance has been given by the WPA.
“Ideal” Project - Richard Weir, Seattle, of the division of service and education of the WPA, principal speaker for the evening, termed the clubhouse an “Ideal WPA project.” Weir appeared in the absence of Wallace Kelso, director of education and recreation, who was unable to be present.
“This is not a project in which the sponsors lazily make an application for funds and then wait for the WPA to do the rest of the work,” Weir said. “This is an ideal WPA project because the citizens of this community have been interested in the job the WPA has tried to do, and have assisted in the work.”
Guests are Heard
Remarks by honored guests of the evening, including Roy Ellis, former president of the East Bremerton Improvement club; Ralph Purves, prosecuting attorney; C.C. Casad, city public works commissioner; Reymond Scott, former county commissioner; Lulu D. Haddon, state senator, and Arthur Brine, state representative, composed an important part of the program. Various other guests were introduced, including representatives from civic clubs and other community organizations.
Officers of the West Side club, past presidents, committee work
Celebrated the 50th Anniversary
West Side Improvement Club Starts 70th Year
Barbara Johnson will be installed as President of the West Side Improvement Club, Monday, January 6, 2003, as the club starts off its 70th year.
The Installation will begin at 7:30 pm at the club located at National Ave. and “E” street.
Others to be installed include Gladys Buntting, vice President; Rex Tauscher, Secretary; Donald Henry, Treasurer; Robert McCleod, Pamela Rynearson, Toby Salter, Roy Theriot, and John Becker (past President) as Board members.
Celebrated the 75th Anniversary
In March of 2020, the whole world seemed to stand still. The Covid-19 virus began to infect the world and we were required to stay home and stay safe by quarantining and wearing masks whenever we were required to leave our home for supplies. For the first time, the Club is at a full standstill. We had to pause all in-person meets and events and while we learned to adapt, we started using video conferencing to help our members stay connected and continue to push forward to build our community and club. Since the pandemic, we have adapted and grown as a community and club.
In January of 2021, a new Board of Directors was installed. Matthew Barrett; President, Ron Sharer; Vice President, Don Henry; Treasurer, Chandra Kaye; Secretary with board members including Ruby Blake, Darlene Luse, Austin Lockett & Cheryl Elfstrand.
In April of 2021, The Club approved a community garden located at the end of the basketball court and above the Clubhouse sign. The Garden will be a place for members to have the opportunity to plant, maintain and harvest the garden, and fruits and vegetables that are collected can potentially be sold at the farmer's market or donated to our community.