On Saturday June 21, 1930, the long-awaited Manette Bridge is dedicated, finally linking Bremerton and Manette, two communities forming one city but divided by the waters of Port Washington Narrows. The money required for the construction was acquired by an intensive fund-raising campaign, led by the Union Bridge Company, designers of the bridge, and the city of Bremerton. Construction begins in November 1929 and is completed by June 1930. The dedication features the usual speeches and invocations of dignitaries, accompanied by an ambitious schedule of socializing events. The next day the bridge is opened to the public.
Beauty and the Bridge
The dedication day of the new bridge was preceded by a popularity/beauty contest among young women of Kitsap County, organized by the Sunshine Society, a local charity, and sponsored by several local civic organizations, including the Bremerton Kiwanis Club, the Port Orchard Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club, the Bremerton and Charleston American Legion clubs, and the Business Women’s Club. In order to vote, citizens purchased tags. Proceeds were to go to the Kitsap County Children’s Home of Manette. A total of $4,795.28 was garnered, the most successful fundraising campaign ever conducted by the Sunshine Society to that time. The winner of the contest would be designated as Miss Sunshine and be given the honor of christening the bridge. Over 110,000 votes were cast. The winner was Helen Joldersma, the Bremerton Kiwanis Club candidate.
Also chosen to be honored at the bridge dedication was a 106-year-old Native American woman, whose Duwamish name was Putte-Pash. When she married an African American in 1853, she became Jane Garrison. By 1930, her husband and most of her children had passed away, but she continued to live independently in her own house in Manette.
Congratulations and Celebrations
The festivities of June 21, 1930, began with a noon luncheon hosted by the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, with many guests of honor, including the commander of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Miss Sunshine, Helen Joldersma. At 1:45 p.m., two delegations gathered at each end of the Manette Bridge, then proceeded across the bridge, meeting at the center. Jane Garrison traveled in a specially constructed seat carried on an automobile. At 1:50 p.m. Helen Joldersma christened the bridge by breaking a bottle of water collected from the Port Washington Narrows, over which the bridge passed.
After this brief ceremony, the crowds moved to a grandstand that had been assembled nearby. For about an hour, dedicatory addresses and congratulations were given by various dignitaries and bridge boosters. After 3:00 p.m., activities were given over to social events, including a wrestling match, children’s races, and a baseball game. At 6:30 p.m., a banquet was held at the Manette Masonic Temple. Afterwards, dances took place in both Bremerton and Manette.
The Manette Bridge was remodeled in 1949. Eventually it became structurally and functionally deficient, and in 2011 was demolished. Its replacement bridge opened to traffic on November 10, 2011, with the final touches in place by 2012.