The town certainly has changed more than ‘Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State,’ last revised in 1950.

Share story

THIS STORY IS about a book and a town. The chosen book is for those who love our state and good writing. “Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State” is one of those wonderfully absorbed little reads that visit us before slumber.

The 1941 classic state guide is filled with more than 650 pages of skillfully interpreted visits to Washington communities. Alas, it also is long out of print, but, like many other cherished tomes, you might find it in a used bookstore. Poulsbo, our town of choice, has a few.

Today, to quote from the guide, this “picturesque fishing village on Liberty Bay” has a population of about 9,000. In the 1950 reissue (the last revision) of the WPA-funded guide, Poulsbo’s population is set at 639, an accounting done probably with the help of the 1950 federal Census. Federal Depression-era funds also were paying salaries to the book’s many out-of-work skilled authors.

Using well-calibrated distances traveled on state and federal highways, Poulsbo, part of Tour 9A, is first reached at the top of page 537. The town is introduced as stretching “along the sinuous shoreline of Liberty Bay. Substantial frame and brick buildings line the main street.” Poulsbo’s main street is named Front, and is seen in the 1920s in the “Then” photo looking into the long curve from its intersection with Jensen Way Northeast.

For his “Now” photo, Jean Sherrard had to settle for an early winter mist. He missed the White Christmas by one day. A comparison of the photos reveals why well-preserved Poulsbo attracts visitors to admire the old-world charms of its towers, gables, rustic murals, half-timbered decorations, well-wrought balconies and flower baskets like those we imagine hanging in Valhalla.

As the book continues, it surely presages changes: “Farms crowd the town from the hillsides.” Now there also are developments. The guide’s demographic claims of 1950 no longer apply. It reads, “Approximately 90 percent of the persons living at present along the bayshore are Norwegians.” Today, visitors to Poulsbo might wish to study its residents and calculate their own statistics.