NB Kitsap Community
Only poor handwriting and the interpretation of the postmaster general kept the spelling from actually being “Paulsbo.” Originally called “Paul’s Bo,” meaning Paul’s Place, the town of more than 9,000 residents retains a Norwegian flavor. “Velkommen til Poulsbo,” the public greeting in Norwegian, is easily translated as a sincere “Welcome to Poulsbo.”
Poulsbo was settled in the late 1880s by fishermen, loggers and farmers who likened Dogfish Bay (later renamed Liberty Bay) and its surroundings to the fjords of Norway and adjoining Scandinavian countries.
Transportation in Poulsbo’s early years was by boat, horseback and foot. Major buying and selling was done via boat to Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
Fishermen from the Bering Sea brought their catch of codfish here to one of the largest processing plants in the Northwest for salting and preserving. It was also there that lutefisk was processed. You can still eat lutefisk at the First Lutheran Church’s annual lutefisk dinner on the third Saturday of each October. The Fordefjord Lutheran Church was founded by those early Norwegian settlers.
A “mosquito fleet” of steamers sailed from Seattle to Poulsbo for some 60 years, carrying passengers and freight. Poulsbo’s strong ties to the water are still evident today, with the presence of three marinas on the shores of Liberty Bay.
The downtown waterfront area of Poulsbo was at one time part of Liberty Bay. In the 1950s, the community worked together to fill part of the bay to form Liberty Bay Waterfront Park and Anderson Parkway. Some of the buildings you see today were once on pilings. The Kvelstad Pavilion, a popular spot for summer weddings and family gatherings, was added to the waterfront park later. Within a span of five generations, Poulsbo changed from a rowboat on an untouched shore to a thriving community with small-town charm.
Poulsbo’s rich Scandinavian heritage is proudly retained and displayed in the unique storefronts, outside murals such as the one depicting dancers in traditional Norwegian costume, annual events such as Viking Fest, Skandia Midsommarfest and Yule Fest, and Norwegian streets with such names as Lindvig Way, Moe Street and Jensen Way.
The Jewel Box Theatre, close to the downtown shopping area, offers entertaining plays for young and old. After performing for years in different venues, the Poulsbo Players have made the Jewel Box their home.
Bluewater Artworks Gallery and Framing is the newest and largest of five art galleries on Poulsbo’s historic Front Street. Featuring more than 70 local artists, the gallery has handcrafted glass, pottery, jewelry, textiles, wood, sculpture, metal, watercolors, oils, acrylics and mixed media as well as a full-service custom frame shop that offers not only art framing but also custom shadow boxes to display medals and memorabilia.
All of the galleries on Front Street as well as several other businesses participate in the monthly second Saturday Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. Enjoy refreshments and live musical performances at Bluewater Artworks and other spots.
The Central Market offers fresh produce, local farmers’ goods, excellent cheeses, diverse beer and wine and, above all, a friendly staff. The high-quality destination market draws customers not only from Poulsbo but from many surrounding communities. It is a block east of State Route 305, between Lincoln and Bond roads.
Activities for all ages can be found at the Poulsbo Marine Science Center at the south end of the downtown area. Visit the center’s giant Pacific octopus, play around with the many interactive exhibits highlighting the Puget Sound and even get close to a few Liberty Bay natives in the many touch tanks.
North Kitsap School District’s administration offices are in Poulsbo. The school district has six elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Visit its website at www.nkschools.org.
On the water in the heart of the Kitsap Peninsula, Poulsbo is just a 12-mile drive from the Seattle/Bainbridge Island ferry or the Edmonds/Kingston ferry. From Tacoma, follow the signs to Bremerton and Poulsbo on highways 16 and 3.
For further information, call the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce at 779-4848 or stop in at 19351 Eighth Ave., Suite 108, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Visit its website at www.poulsbochamber.com.