HOLLY — The century-old Holly Community Center, once a schoolhouse and later a social hub for one of the peninsula’s most remote hamlets, was destroyed by fire Wednesday night.
Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue crews were called to the center at 24283 NW Seabeck Holly Road around 10 pm after a 911 caller spotted the flames. Other area fire departments converged to fight the blaze, which gutted the building.
No injuries were reported from the blaze.
Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam said the blaze began at the north end of the two-story structure, near a kitchen. It burned quickly, given how old and dry the wood was.
“It’s like kindling,” Lynam said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. But Lynam noted there was nothing to suggest the fire was intentionally set.
The building is similar to two other community structures in the area, in Crosby and Brownsville, Lynam said.
The schoolhouse was built a century ago, in 1922, as the community by Hood Canal grew as a logging town. In 1947, the school building was deeded by the Central Kitsap School District to establish a community center that’s been there since.
Tammie Hart-Snyder, whose ancestors settled in the area, woke up in tears upon hearing the news of the fire, she said. She grew up just down the road and there were pictures of her family de ella inside de ella, both on the walls and in photo albums stored there.
“It was a treasure,” Hart-Snyder said of the center. “It held so much of my family’s history.”
Albert Pfundt, the fisherman son of German immigrants to the area, donated property 100 years ago for the schoolhouse, according to local historians Randy and Marvel Hunt. It had running water and a furnace — an upgrade on the community’s prior school.
After students began to be bused to a school in Seabeck in the 1940s, the district’s handover of the building made it a place of countless community meetings and celebrations. Christina McTimpeny, a Seabeck native, married her husband, Brandon, inside in 2010.
“It was very charming,” she said of the wooden structure.
At least one church congregated there, and for years a civic gathering on the first Friday of the month was held, where “pressure was put on trespassing land developers and commercial crab boats,” according to “Kitsap County: A History,” a compendium by the Kitsap History Museum.
“The community of around 50 year-round residents balked when outsiders tried to infringe on the beauty of the community,” the book said. “It was also responsible for improved phone service and cable TV.”
The center was still a vital part of the community, hosting Christmas parties, plant sales and other events, according to residents. Earlier this year, gutters were installed to help with drainage at the building, donated by local company Northwest Gutters.
“I was so incredibly heartbroken when I heard,” said Seabeck native Kayleigh Averill, whose time at the center included community sales with her grandmother all the way through to her own wedding reception. “It’s pretty emotional.”
Josh Farley is a reporter covering the military and Bremerton for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-9227, email@example.com or on Twitter at @joshfarley.