Gardiner residents joke that at the metropolitan heart of downtown Gardiner is its community center.
For the small unincorporated community of a few hundred people, the Gardiner Community Center serves as the focal point of activity, socializing and general livelihood. Each day several groups, meetings and special events bring as many as 100 people from Sequim, Discovery Bay, Blyn and Port Townsend.
Social groups like the men’s coffee network — the Earl Gibson Memorial Gardiner Men’s Coffee Club and Political Brain Trust — meet at 8:30 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday.
The club, made up of friends and neighbors, honors an everyday tradition of long-time resident Earl Gibson, who hosted locals in his home for coffee. Gibson, an aerospace engineer who died at age 88 in June 2010, was a respected citizen who did it all in Gardiner. He was co-organizer for the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby, served on the Gardiner Cemetery Board and was a Jefferson County Fire District 5 volunteer.
“If a neighbor needed help, then we’d help with projects, like gathering firewood,” said Mike West, a Gardiner resident. “(Gibson) just liked to help. We’re not letting this (group) die.”
Brain Trust attendees, numbering from a handful to a full room’s worth, said they talk about anything and entertain politicians on occasion. Members joked that despite endorsing several candidates, their selections have led to no candidacies.
Dennis Martin, president of the community center board of trustees, said Gardiner has a giving spirit.
Some weeks the community center is filled with fitness-minded souls doing yoga, dancing a boot-scoot or practicing their fly-fishing casting.
The women’s exercise group “Hot Flashes” meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday mornings with a dozen in attendance led by Leslie Bunton.
Resident Jan Hintermayr said the aerobics group has met since 1998.
“Everybody keeps it coming together,” Hintermayr said. “All we do is put out a call and they help us put it together.”
The group is one of the many efforts at building community.
“It’s always busy here,” Joyce Minty, a Gardiner resident, said.
Some of the ongoing groups and special events at Gardiner Community Center include:
Some residents feel what makes Gardiner cohesive and attractive is its diversity.
“We have CIA people to those working on the space age to ex-Fortune 500 companies,” Gardiner resident Carlton Posey said.
Gardiner’s commerce is mostly invisible except for a few stores along U.S. Highway 101, such as Wild Birds Unlimited. Some residents work out of their homes making honey, fixing cars, etc.
Rich Quinnell, Gardiner Cemetery Association junior member, said Gardiner is the kind of place that finds you rather than you finding it.
As a token of togetherness to the end, all residents of Gardiner are offered a free plot in the Gardiner Cemetery.
Residents consider that Gardiner’s boundaries begin to the west at the Clallam and Jefferson County lines and end at the east end of Old Gardiner Road.
Martin said when locals say “they are going to town,” they mean Sequim. Students who live in Gardiner go to the Sequim School District and use Clallam County Fire District 3’s emergency services.
The Gardiner Community Center once was Gardiner School, run by the Jefferson County School District until the 1947-1948 school year. The Gardiner Garden Club managed the building and rentals until January 1971, when Rhododendron Grange No. 1137 of Gardiner took over the lease. Jefferson County bought the schoolhouse in October 1976, for $21,000.
The building was found to have a poor foundation in January 1978. Work to build a basement and renovate was finished in October 1979.
Jefferson County continues to own the Gardiner Community Center along with others in Brinnon, Port Townsend and Quilcene.
A board of trustees oversees operations and maintenance with groups’ rent and donations paying for renovations such as fixing the kitchen and front entrance floor.
Gardiner itself was named after major property owner Herbert Gardner who logged 2,500 acres he owned. With a nearby warehouse and steamboat dock, loggers settled in the area and named the settlement after Gardner. However, Gardner, Wash., already existed, so the U.S. Post Office added an “I” to differentiate the two. Thus Gardiner was born.
For more on Gardiner and the Gardiner Community Center, visit www.gardiner wa.org.
Diane Movius-Martin and Bob Minty contributed to this story through their past research.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.