Bainbridge Island is both the name of the island and of the city which, since February 28, 1991, occupies the entire island.
With an area of 65 square miles and a population of 23,025 as of the 2010 census, it is the second largest city in Kitsap County, and the most favored.
Both Money magazine and CNN/Money named Bainbridge Island the second-best place to live in the United States in July 2005. In 2013, Google presented the city with an eCity Award, which recognized it as the city with the strongest online business community in Washington State.
The median sales price for homes in Bainbridge Island WA in mid-to-late 2015 was $628,000, an increase of 14.4% over the same period in 2014. At the same time, the number of homes sold decreased by16.3%.
As of late 2015, single family homes range in price from about $300,000 to approximately $6 million.
Condos are offered in the $200’s and $300’s, with a few waterfront condos in the $500,000 range.
Since Bainbridge Island is so large, there are distinct communities/centers of commerce and differences between those communities. Winslow, the original community, is the most economically diverse, and the least affluent. More than half of Winslow residents live in rental units, as opposed to 20% overall. As of the 2010 census, Winslow residents had a median household income of $42,000, which is less than half of the $94,000 median income for the island as a whole.
Other centers of commerce on Bainbridge Island are Lynwood Center and Rolling Bay. These communities are generally home to a more affluent populace.
A bit of History…
Bainbridge Island was named after Commodore William Bainbridge by US Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes when he visited the island in 1841. The island was originally a center for the shipbuilding and logging industries. It was a prime location for both, since the huge accessible cedar trees which covered the island were much in demand for ship’s masts.
The first inhabitants of the island were the Suquamish tribe, but in 1855 Chief Sealth (Seattle) ceded Bainbridge Island and their other lands to the U.S. Government.
By the late 1800s, Bainbridge Island’s Port Blakely was home to the world’s largest sawmill and workers came from around the world. In addition to an Indian village, Japanese and Hawaiian communities grew up nearby.
Until 1902, when it was moved to Eagle Harbor, Port Blakely was also home to the world-famous Hall Brothers Shipyard. The Port Blakely Mill remained in operation for 57 years, finally closing in the mid-1920s.
Across Eagle Harbor from the shipyard was the coast’s largest wood preservative facility. The community that grew up there on Bill Point was named Creosote, after the coal tar derivative used to preserve wood.
Another booming mill town during the late 1800s was Port Madison, named by the Wilkes Expedition after James Madison, the 4th President of the United States. The town became Kitsap County’s first county seat, but when the mill was closed due to the economic depression of 1893, the County Seat was relocated and the town became a ghost town.
During the boom times in the second half of the 1890s, both Port Blakely and Port Madison had schools, foundries, and large hotels in addition to the sawmills and ship building enterprises.
Since ships were critical to the nation’s defense, the U.S. Army built Fort Ward at Bean’s Point in the 1890s to provide coastal defenses for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton. Placed on inactive status in the 1920s, the fort was essentially abandoned in 1928 and served for several years as a state operated camp for Seattle’s inner city children.
In 1938, the U.S. Navy took over and not only reopened the fort, but confiscated and evicted the owners of several surrounding properties. This was the beginning of the development of Fort Ward as a top-secret military post used for eavesdropping on radio communications transmitted from the Far East.
Fort Ward was once again deactivated in 1958, and the property became Fort Ward State Park in 1960. In 2011 it was transferred to the Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District and the parade ground has been designated a National Historic Site. Many of the original homes are listed on the City of Bainbridge Island’s Historic Register.
The original name of the city now called Bainbridge Island was Winslow, named after the shipbuilder Winslow Hall. It was incorporated in 1947 and remained Winslow until 1991, when the City of Winslow annexed the rest of the island and officially became the City of Bainbridge Island, Washington.
The original community known as Winslow is still the primary shopping district of the island. Its main street, Winslow Way, is lined on both sides by local businesses, including multiple bakeries, galleries, and restaurants. The ferry, with service to Seattle, boards at the east end of Winslow Way.
Bainbridge Island Today
The words “Bainbridge Island” and “affluence” go almost hand in hand. Since the l960s the island, just a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle, has become a bedroom community for highly educated and highly paid individuals who work in technology, upper management, science, and other professional occupations. According to the latest census, approximately 25% of the working population uses the ferry system to commute to work.
On the island itself, jobs are plentiful in the service industries, hospitality, education, retail, and construction.
Bainbridge Island offers a different sort of shopping experience. In place of nationally known names and big box stores, you’ll find a fascinating array of locally-owned, one-of-a-kind shops, boutiques and service businesses.
Islanders want to keep it green…
Business services have been primarily contained within the four centers of commerce, possibly because the community is concerned over preserving the green spaces. The Bainbridge Island Land Trust, city, and park district all work diligently to maintain island open space.
The four centers of commerce: Winslow, Lynwood Center, Rolling Bay, & Island Center
Winslow is the original downtown core. Here you’ll find the majority of shopping and dining choices, as well as access to the Ferry.
Lynwood Center, on the west side of Bainbridge Island, offers a wide variety of dining, shopping, and lodging choices.
Commercial enterprise in Lynwood Center began in the 1930s, when Edne and Emanuel Olson built a Tudor-style shopping center to serve the community. In 1936 they opened the Lynwood Theatre, which opened as Bainbridge Island’s first “talking picture show.” Now known as The Historic Lynwood Theatre, the business celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2011.
Rolling Bay has several commercial shops and is home to the Bud Hawk Post Office (formerly called Rollingbay).
Bud Hawk was a decorated World War II veteran who earned four Purple Hearts and the Medal of Honor as a U.S. Army machine-gunner fighting in Europe. Having grown up in Rolling Bay, he returned home after the war and was a longtime Kitsap County educator.
Rolling Bay is a primarily residential community, with stores such as Rolling Bay Automotive, Rolling Bay Café, Rolling Bay Market, and Bay Hay & Feed.
Bainbridge Island offers something for almost everyone.
While adults enjoy visiting the locally-owned shops, art galleries, museums, harbor pubs, coffee houses, and restaurants, there’s plenty of fun for children as well. An indoor aquatics center, children’s museum, and a skate park are just the beginning.
The Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District manages over 1,500 acres on Bainbridge Island, more than 90% of which is protected open space. In addition, this organization maintains a wide variety of athletic and leisure facilities and programs for citizens ranging from toddlers to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Programs range from aquatics, to indoor and outdoor sports, to fitness, to hiking and nature walks, to arts and crafts.
Two pools that serve the Bainbridge Island community are the Don Nakata Memorial pool and the Ray Williamson Pool.
The Don Nakata Memorial Pool facility houses a spa and steam and sauna room. The pool itself offers a 180 foot water slide, lazy river, sloped beach entry, tot pool, water futures, toddler frog slide, one and three meter diving boards, and four 25-yard lap lanes.
The Ray Williamson Pool is for serious contenders, and is the home site for Bainbridge Island High School Swimming, Diving, and Water Polo Teams. It is also home to the Bainbridge Island Swim Club and Bainbridge Aquatic Masters team.
In 2011 a Hanovia UV system was installed at both pools to increase water and air quality.
As might be expected with such an affluent populace, residents of Bainbridge Island are more than twice as likely to hold Bachelor’s Degrees, Masters Degrees, and Doctorates than are average American citizens. Citizens also care about the education of their children, so in addition to 11 highly rated public schools, Bainbridge Island is home to 7 private schools.
Among the more than 60 eateries on Bainbridge Island, you’ll find a wide variety of offerings, from small cafes to seafood and steak houses, to restaurants offering a variety of ethnic cuisine. Of course you’ll find Starbucks coffee.
In addition to the Island Country Inn and Bainbridge Island Suites (Best Western) the island offers more than seven B&B’s and small Inns. Vacation rentals are also available by the week or month.
Could Bainbridge Island be your next home? If you’d like to explore the possibilities, get in touch. I’ll be happy to help you find the home that’s just right for you and yours. In the meantime, click here to view the Bainbridge Island homes offered for sale today. (Link to Bainbridge Island search page)