The first American Settlers in Puget Sound came to find a place of rich resources, natural beauty, and free of human intolerance. A logging camp grew to a settlement that became Fort Madison, named after the fourth President of the US. From the 1850’s to the 1890’s Port Madison was a booming mill town on the northern end of the Bainbridge Island, supplying cedar ship’s masts to naval shipyards. As the center of the local Bainbridge Island government, Port Madison also served as the original county seat of Kitsap County.
During the Civil War, the Bainbridge Island government and residents supported the Union and helped defend Puget Sound from Confederate Ships. In the 1890’s a post office was the center of the town, then named Madrone, and the local farming families gathered there to conduct town business.
The area slowly grew with American and Japanese farmers, a contrast to other local logging settlements. By 1903, the town had grown to have a shop district with a steamer dock, and the town leaders changed the name to Winslow. In 1947, Winslow incorporated to form a town of 1.5 square miles.
After WWII, the town refocused on residential construction and family living communities. By 1991 Winslow was the obvious center of Bainbridge Island government activities for the area, and it annexed the rest of the island to centralize and consolidate the supply of utilities and resources. At the same time, they re-named Winslow to reflect the fact that the town was in fact, the whole of Bainbridge Island.
The Bainbridge Island government has never ceased to evolve towards the changing and growing needs of the citizens. In 2009, the town voted to reform into a Council/Manager form of government. The Council members are elected, and they hire the city manager who oversees town operations.
Bainbridge Island government leadership encourages participation and dialogue to continue their evolution toward a more perfect union of community and government. Citizen participation is critical to plan for the future of the community. Bainbridge Island’s Comprehensive Plan for the future is their living blueprint for a prosperous town and thriving community. They believe that this is why Bainbridge Island is widely considered to be one of the best places to live in America.