The Pride of Grapeview: The Horton Community Center
The House the GCA Built
November 2011 - Cindy Blackshear
The creation of the Horton Community Center in Grapeview was a cooperative effort accomplished with the leadership of the Grapeview Community Association (then-known as the Grapeview Community Club) and Fire District #3 along with labor volunteered by community members and funds donated by the community. The intent of the project was to create a gathering place that would be available for the use of the Grapeview community.
On December 1st 2003, the GCC Executive Board voted to “support the Grapeview Fire District #3 in their expansion of the Fire Department building”. A fire district bond had failed earlier that year when voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure. And on December 4, 2003, the GCC received a letter from Chief Patti Graeber stating “I received your letter today indicating the GCC will support Fire District #3 in their expansion of the Fire Department. The news is extremely pleasing to me. I can’t tell you how excited we are to work with the Community Club to create a functional, appealing building for the fire department and community members to use and enjoy.” Indeed, the old building did not even meet earthquake standards!
In March 2004, the GCC formed a building committee and in June 2004, the GCC established a separate building fund and fundraising efforts were stepped up. In November 2004, Fire District#3 established a building fund to receive tax deductible donations to be used exclusively for the renovations to the fire hall creating the Horton Community Center. A brochure was prepared by the GCC and instructs those interested in making a tax deductible donation to do so to Fire District#3.
In August 2004, the preliminary site plan was completed and the Fire District signed off on the plan, which was approved, along with the special use permit in September. Also in September of that year, the first of 144 bricks were sold at $100 each in a fundraising effort for the project.
June 6, 2005 was a banner day! The building permit was approved and issued by the county! With that, bid proposal packages were delivered to seven local contractors in early July 2005. Two were returned and bids were opened on July 21st. Progress on the project ground to a halt on July 28th because of insufficient funds to proceed. The GCC held a special board meeting on August 16th and discussed the $50,000 shortfall. Loans were solicited from members and the association received an additional $4000 in donations and $51,000 in loan commitments in two days.
Contracts were awarded in late August and early September of that year and the Groundbreaking Ceremony was held on September 5, 2005. Four days later the Public Works Construction Agreement, prepared by the attorney for the fire district, between Fire District #3 and the GCC was signed. This document includes the Use Agreement which provides that on completion of the project, the District would incorporate the following language into its Station Use Policy: “The Grapeview Community Club has provided funding for the station expansion project… the District agrees that the Club shall have the right to use the station for its activities at no charge during the lifetime of the station providing such use shall not interfere with the District’s use of the station to carry out its statutory duties”.
Construction began in mid-September, 2005 and in the tradition of an old-time barn-raising, volunteers turned out in great numbers to help with construction and to keep costs in check. And help they did! Volunteers framed, sheetrocked and trimmed interior walls, built a new tank room to house the water system, dug trenches and installed the water line. They built a new concrete pad for the heat pump. New siding was installed and an attractive new façade was created as was a porch. Volunteers installed plumbing fixtures in the bathrooms and the Formica. A number of volunteers worked on the patio with Frank Merrill of Jestfield Construction donating labor, equipment and materials. Volunteers then built the breezeway and installed a fire alarm system.
Approximately $240,000, originating from GCC sponsored events such as the Grapeview Water Festival, Crab Feed, garage sales, Irish Stews and spaghetti feeds as well as generous donations and loans from community members funded the majority of the project. The Horton Community Center, renamed in honor of Byron W. (Bud) Horton (see additional information, below), was proudly dedicated on August 26, 2006.
The project added a new addition to the fire hall of approximately 2,220 square feet which included new bathrooms, storage and utility rooms. A new roof was installed over the entire building and work was done to bring the building to earthquake safety code. Guttering, upgraded electrical and heating and sound systems were added.
In their joint application to the Mason County Department of Community Development for Special Use Permit dated August 7, 2004, the GCC and Fire District #3 stated, “The intent of the proposed Grapeview Community Center is to provide a meeting place for various community groups and for community projects. It will provide a facility more conducive to meetings and events…large enough to safely handle larger groups.”
Due in part to that increased space; the Grapeview Community Association (GCA) has grown to approximately 400 members, as has its fundraising activities. Repayment of construction loans made by members has been completed. Since that time the 501c(4) organization, staffed solely by volunteers, has used proceeds from their fundraising efforts to award scholarships to local high school students and to support local schools and organizations.
(Look under the newsletter tab and read the October/November 2005 GCC Newsletter showing a photo of Fire Commissioner Jim Stark, Fire Chief Patti Graeber, Mason County Commissioner Lynda Ring Erickson, GCC President Louise Okonek, Fire Commissioner Curt Fugere, and Fire Commissioner Stan Catron (weilding the shovel) as they broke ground for the new addition to the Horton Community Center.
Horton Community Center
The remodeled Grapeview Community Center was formally dedicated and renamed in a ceremony held at 1:00 PM on Saturday, August 26, 2006. Everyone was invited to the celebration which included a ribbon cutting and refreshments. The center, which was renamed the Horton Community Center, is an extensive redesign and expansion of the old fire hall. Its construction was accomplished entirely through private donations, community fund raising efforts and a whole lot of volunteer work.
Although the Grapeview Community Club was founded in 1988 with the express purpose of establishing a community meeting place, the plans for the Horton Community Center didn’t really get rolling until the group received a generous gift from the Horton Family Foundation, given in memory of Byron W. “Bud” Horton.
Horton had spent his life in the meat business in Seattle and had also founded, owned and operated the Wharf Restaurant at Fisherman’s Terminal. In September 1997, at the age of 88, he fulfilled a lifelong dream with the purchase of a beach home in a quiet area of Grapeview Loop Road.
Horton’s family says that he loved to sip coffee while looking out at the bay and would comment, “This is the life.” He died only two months later. In memory of him and his love for the Grapeview area, the family “jump started” the fund for the new community center with a memorial donation.
(This article is paraphrased from the Grapeview Community Club August/September 2006 Newsletter published by Jackie Longmire.)
A Brief History of Grapeview
written by Jackie Longmire
The first settler in our area was Lambert Evans in 1872. He was a veteran of the Confederate Army from Florida and was 36 years of age when he settled on Stretch Island. He purchased 40 acres of the island for $2.50 per acre. Later he filed homestead papers on the northern 172 acres. He planted grapevines from cuttings he obtained during his long travel to the area. Fruit trees were also planted and he sold his crops by rowing to Olympia and Steilacoom. For 11 years he remained the only settler for miles and later in life became known as the "first citizen" of the community. Late in the 19th century more settlers came to Stretch Island, Reach Island and the mainland opposite the islands.
Members of early sailing expeditions of Puget Sound named much of our area. The first was Capt. George Vancouver and his Second Lieutenant Peter Puget who explored Puget Sound in May 1792. Almost 50 years later in May 1841 Admiral Wilkes expedition named Stretch Island for Samuel Stretch, a gunner's mate with the expedition. Using his wit he then named the smaller island to the north Reach Island. Reach Island had been known as Oak Island prior to this. Joseph Pickard was the first to homestead Reach Island in 1885. He left in 1890 and the island was not inhabited until 1905 when Alfred W. Zizz bought Reach Island for $1,000. Alfred and his wife Natella raised two children; Virginia and Zane. Alfred remained on the island until 1952 when it was sold to a development group and it was renamed Treasure Island.
On the mainland the Malaney brothers; Tom, Albert and John arrived in 1885. They claimed tracks of land and later with bankers Ladd and Tilton formed the Detroit Land Improvement Company and acquired even more tracts of land. Their vision of Detroit was a large city. Several acres opposite Reach Island were platted into lots. They were successful for about a year with a sawmill, two saloons and a new hotel. The dream faded when investors left along with John and Albert Malaney. Tom stayed on to become our first postmaster. Charles (Bill) Somers bought 10 acres of the original site in the 1950's. You can see the sign today on the Grapeview Loop Road "Detroit Townsite".
Others were settling around the Detroit Townsite. Charlie Anderson settled on the south end of Stretch Island in 1883. Charlie Gould came in 1886 purchasing 40 acres of the island's northwest section from Lambert Evans. He persuaded his friend, Adam Eckert, to also come in 1889. Adam Eckert also purchased 40 acres from Lambert Evans. His wife Sarah and five children under the age of 14 soon followed . The Eckert family was prominent in our community for the next 100 years. Their home became a center for community activities.
In 1891 the closest schools were in Allyn and Vaughn. Sarah Eckert's two older boys rowed across the bay to Vaughn for school. In 1893 our community organized School District #23. The first students were the Eckert and Malaney children. This created the first political entity of our community with Lambert Evans, Laura Malaney and Lou Rauschert on the School Board.
Walter Eckert, who was tired of his mail being sent to Detroit Michigan, convinced the community their beautiful rural community needed a better name. Grapeview was the choice. It was approved by the Postal Service in April 1922.
Note: Most of this history came from Grapeview the Detroit of the West by Mary Sagerson and Duane Robinson, Mason County Historical Society, 1992. This book is available for purchase from the museum in downtown Shelton at the corner of 5th Street and Railroad Avenue.