The History of the Sportsmen’s Club on Bainbridge Island
Formed in 1929, the club was originally known as the Bainbridge Island Rod and Gun Club. The founding members of the Sportsmen’s Club include many individuals significant to Bainbridge Island’s past, including Dr. Frank Shepard, Captain Kunkler, Major Hopkins, Buck Bucklin, Henry Rodal and Arnold Raber. The club held numerous events and became a center for island life.
Early in the club’s history hunting, fishing and target shooting were the mainstays of the club’s activities. Islanders also came to the club to enjoy frequent events focused on the natural environment, conservation and community Of course, as the page from the April 10, 1930 Bainbridge Review attests, safety and the safe use of firearms has been at the forefront of the club’s mission since inception.
The club incorporated as the Bainbridge Island Sportsmen’s club in 1938 and moved to its current location in 1939. The clubhouse, pistol and trap ranges were constructed at about the same time. The developed area of the club is approximately 2.5 acres in size; the balance of the nearly 16-acre property is heavily forested and also contains a pond and wetland areas.
The clubhouse is built in the rustic style of architecture. The intensive use of hand labor and clear rejection of regularity and symmetry that characterizes this style is apparent in the building’s construction. Rustic architecture developed in the period from 1917-1927, and was a style of architecture heavily used in our country’s wilderness parks during the 1930s. This movement in American architecture was a natural outgrowth of a new romanticism about nature, and our country’s western frontier. The conservation ethic slowly became part of this architectural movement. This ethic is what makes the style unique: the building is accessory to nature. Early pioneer and regional building techniques were revived to construct these buildings because it was thought that a structure employing native materials blended best with the environment.
In 2009 the club decided to make significant repairs and remodel some aspects of the clubhouse and the ranges, in particular the pistol range. The purpose of the remodeled pistol range was to improve safety, reduce noise and improve access to those with disabilities. The project was funded in part by a grant from the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island. The main clubhouse had the exterior rehabbed as well as adding insulation to the meeting room. A second grant was used to create an indoor/outdoor archery range.
Often rustic structures are too young to receive proper attention under the Federal criteria for Historic Places. Each year a few disappear and many more are altered by remodeling done without sensitivity to the original design.The club made a commitment to maintain the integrity of both the interior and exterior historic elements of the building throughout the reconstruction. The clubhouse did not originally have electricity, and was lighted by gas lamps; these lamps were electrified and retained in their original locations. All of the windows were replaced within the original window openings and trimmed in the same style as the original building. The siding for the clubhouse building was milled from cedar trees from the site. The contractor, Rich Schmidt, hand-hewed the lower edges of the siding to maintain the architectural integrity of the rustic style.