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A dream comes true at long last

Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman celebrates the opening of Building 50 with Congressman Norm Dicks, Capt. Daniel Peters, commander of  PSNS and Lyle Nelson, president of Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific on Aug. 24 - Photo by Jesse Beals
Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman celebrates the opening of Building 50 with Congressman Norm Dicks, Capt. Daniel Peters, commander of PSNS and Lyle Nelson, president of Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific on Aug. 24
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

A dream more than 50 years in the making burst forth into reality on Aug. 24 as the Puget Sound Navy Museum opened in historic Building 50 at the Bremerton Harborside.

Among the many dignitaries in attendance was Lyle Nelson, president of the Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific, who was part of the team of city, county, state and federal leaders responsible for the completion of the project.

“This will be the fifth location in 52 years, and I hope it will be the last,” Nelson told the crowd of more than 50 people who basked in the warmth of an unseasonably sunny day.

The museum began in November 1954 as the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Museum, Nelson said.

In subsequent years the city of Bremerton and the Kitsap County Historical Society took responsibility for maintaining the museum’s operation before the Naval Memorial Museum of the Pacific’s volunteers took the reins, he said.

“I firmly believe we would not be here without the foresight and vision of Congressman Dicks,” Nelson said.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, (D-Belfair) helped secure federal funding for the purchase of Building 50, which was built in 1896, and its movement outside the shipyard’s gates for the museum and also secured $1 million annually for the museum’s operation.

Capt. Daniel Peters, commander of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, called the grand opening “a truly historic day.”

The idea of using Building 50 as a museum isn’t a new one, and now it will finally be able to tell the story of the Puget Sound’s naval history, Capt. Peters said.

“After 111 years it is in its final location, where I hope it will stay for another 100 years,” he said.

During one of his early assignments to PSNS, Capt. Peters said he remembers having an office in the historic building, but now the rest of the world can enjoy the historic location.

“Each shop within the shipyard will have the opportunity to talk,” Capt. Peters said. “Shipfitters are the first to display their craft. Shipfitting is the carpentry of steel.”

For Mayor Cary Bozeman, the event marked the culmination of a team effort to bring all of the pieces together to make it happen.

“I can’t say enough about the volunteers who made it happen,” Bozeman said.

While buoyed by the happiness of the occasion, Bozeman took a moment to pay tribute to public works employee Dean Wescott, who died the day before from injuries sustained in a paving accident on Aug. 22.

“Everything we do as a city happens because we are a team,” he said. “This week we lost a member of our team, Dean Westcott, who was killed in a paving accident.”

Dicks called the museum’s opening “a total team effort” and thanked everyone who worked to make the dream a reality.

“It means we’re getting things done,” Dicks said.

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