Honoring Local History Heroes and a New Look – The Bainbridge History Museum

Each year, the Bainbridge History Museum (BHM) honors and recognizes those individuals, businesses, and organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to the fulfillment of the Museum’s mission to “preserve and share the stories of Bainbridge Island to promote a greater understanding of our community and the world in which we live.”

The program was initiated in 2017 and since that time awards have been bestowed on 24 individuals, businesses, or organizations. This year’s recipients are Joel Sackett and Felix Narte Sr.

Joel Sackett
Joel Sackett

Resident photographer and author, Joel Sackett was the first recipient of the Island Treasure Award in 2000. The award recognized Joel as a “historian of images… creating a visual record of life on Bainbridge Island.” Joel’s photographs provide a visual story of the Island, of people, places, professions, landscapes, lifestyles, and relationships. His books document people and culture as well, and his most recent publication, Dave’s Brain Box*, celebrates the life of Dave Ullin, a beloved character who lived alone on a boat in Eagle Harbor for many years, and known for helping those in need and contributing to the Island community.

Joel has lived on the Island for 34 years, along with his wife, Michiko; son, Daniel; and daughter YuriAna. Most recently, his large-format photographs were exhibited in the Museum’s Helen L. Bucey Gallery for a full year; it beautifully featured various champion and heritage trees throughout the Island.

There is no doubt that Joel’s work and generosity over the years, and most recently with the Museum, have been of tremendous benefit in enhancing our understanding of the Bainbridge community. “Joel is always a pleasure to be around. He loves this community and has forgone a lucrative career to stay on Bainbridge Island to focus on community-based projects. He is such a gift to this community; he is a historian, artist, and documentarian,” said Amber Buell, Executive Director.

The Kitamoto Family, with Felix Narte, Sr., on the right.
The Kitamoto Family, with Felix Narte, Sr., on the right

In honoring the late Felix Narte, Sr., BHM tells the story about a friend helping friends to build a community. In turn, they promote a greater understanding of our community, the Bainbridge History Museum’s mission.

In 1924, when he was 18 years old, Felix boarded a ship from his homeland in the Philippines during a financial depression and headed to Hawaii, where he worked in the sugar cane and pineapple plantations.

He then traveled to Seattle and found work on the Hayashida strawberry fields on the Island. He met the Kitamoto family and worked their farm, forming a kind of partnership during the years before World War II. According to Lilly Kitamoto Kodama, he was “like an uncle to the family.”

When World War II began, Felix and his cousin, Elaulio Aquino, agreed to move into the Kitamoto home and work the farm, thus allowing the farm to stay in the family name. This was during tense times with a lot of hysteria on the Island. It took courage for Felix to help the Kitomotos, who were interned at Minidoka in Idaho. There, the family was forced to hand-wash their clothing, so Felix delivered their washing machine to them, traveling over 11 hours and 669 miles, using the farm’s pickup. And he made other trips there, even though it was a very long drive. In August of 1945, he drove the Kitamoto family’s big Buick to Minidoka, and the family of six piled in on a hot August day and made the drive back to Bainbridge Island.

In 1948, Felix returned to the Philippines to visit his family and was surprised that the family had chosen a wife for him. She wasn’t “forced on him,” it was just a “suggestion,” according to his granddaughter Angela. Felix’s wife Cion would be the second Filipina woman on the Island. At that time, the U.S. did not allow single Filipina women to emigrate to the U.S.

Felix continued to work the strawberry and raspberry fields while taking annual summer trips to a cannery in Alaska, where he was a foreman. He was also an excellent electrician, working at Winslow and Bremerton shipyards, along with Todd and Lockheed.

Because of Felix, at war’s end in 1945 the Kitamotos had a home and farmland when they returned. In gratitude, the family gave him part of their property, where he built a home in 1946. Today, Lilly Kitamoto Kodama still lives on the family farm in Fletcher Bay. And Felix Jr. lives in the house his father built. This community has had the great good fortune to have the Kitamoto and Narte families here on the Island.

Bainbridge History Museum Introduces New Logo and a New Web Site Design

Under the banner of “One island, many stories,” Bainbridge History Museum (formerly Bainbridge Island Historical Museum) is making some history of its own with a new logo and website. The organization is making the refresh so that it is inviting to islanders and tourists alike.

BHM New Logo 2024“We want to remain a forward-looking, backward-preserving organization for this wonderful place,” said Amber Buell, Executive Director. “We owe it to the compelling history of our Island to be an engaging voice in telling our many-faceted stories.”

Starting with the identity, the Museum wanted a freshness that fit the organization, with a logo that was easy to read. The design also needed to work well across digital media where visual space is always a premium. To facilitate these goals, the organization went from the 36-letter “Bainbridge Island Historical Museum” to the more compact “Bainbridge History Museum,” aligning with their URL, BainbridgeHistory.org.

The logo’s icon represents the historic schoolhouse, a central feature of the Bainbridge History Museum campus. As a design element, the bell-tower arrow also creates a sense of forward direction.

The combined result of the icon and wordmark is a logo that’s clear, visible and easy to recognize.

Concurrently with the logo change, the website was updated to keep it well-designed and functional on any device, while being easy to use for Museum’s staff.

“We’re a living, breathing museum, and, as such, we’re a consistent part of the conversation on this island,” said Buell. “It was important to make our web-work easy on the Museum’s staff and volunteers—and our new platform allows that.” The design and web work was engaged by local resident, Kim Baker, along with partners Jonathan Wiese and Brendan Shanley.

The logo and website changes that welcome visitors and locals to Bainbridge History Museum are a small part of the ongoing work in which the Museum engages. With a mission to collect, preserve and share, Bainbridge History Museum is actively involved in the local community, gathering stories from Bainbridge residents, offering speaker series and virtual programs, and supporting such things as the Pickleball Founders Tournament and Virginia V steam-powered ferry.

The Bainbridge History Museum was a recipient of a City of Bainbridge Lodging Tax Fund, also known as the Civic Improvement Fund, to complete the new look and feel of the logo, tagline, and website design.

The Bainbridge History Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the diverse history of Bainbridge Island. Through exhibits, educational programs, and community events, the Museum strives to engage visitors in an exploration of the island’s past, present, and future. Please visit the new website at www.bainbridgehistory.org

*If you’d like to learn more about Dave’s Brain Box, visit our previous article: “Dave’s Brain Box” by Joel Sackett – The Legacy of Dave Ullin | THE ISLAND WANDERER

Images and information provided by BHM

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