For nearly 90 years, Island Center Hall has been a focal point of community activities ranging from dances and community social events, to elections and church services. The one thing it hasn’t been is a school. Island historian Katy Warner says, “Everyone thinks it was a school; it never was a school.” The old Island Center School was actually located on the adjacent property, relocated first to the High School, then to Strawberry Hill Park, and finally to Ericksen Avenue where it is now the Historical Society Museum.
Property for Island Center Hall was donated by W.L. Gazzam and his wife Lulu in August of 1913 to the Island Center Improvement Club. In their donation, the Gazzam’s specified that the property had to be used as “a meeting place for the community of island center”, and “no spirituous liquors will be allowed”, nor could the property be used for “unlawful meetings or purposes”. The improvement club soon organized volunteers and got donations of materials and money to build the building.
Besides being used for a great variety of community events, Island Center Hall was the location of the Bainbridge Island Fair for a number of years. In December of 1971, the Hall was given to the Bainbridge Island Park District. At the time, Annie Hansen and Ralph Anderson, the last living members of the original Island Center Improvement Club agreed that the Hall should be preserved for the community by the Park District. Approval of the transfer was also given by Gazzam’s three surviving daughters.
Today Island Center Hall continues to serve its intended purpose. Concerts, lectures, weddings, community meetings as well as recreation classes such as swing dancing, fencing, yoga and jazzercise, are regular events. Its size and warm wood interior make Island Center Hall a special place and a community treasure.
This article was adapted from the Bainbridge Island Parks and Rec District website.
How to Get There:
8395 Fletcher Bay Road NE
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110