Residents use bequest to raise pavilion on Marrowstone Island

MARROWSTONE ISLAND — A bequest almost a decade and a half in the making came to fruition Wednesday with the dedication of a picnic pavilion on the grounds of the Nordland Garden Club in memory of Joe Kurtzo.

Kurtzo was an island resident, artist and free-style builder whose rustic outbuildings dotted his wooded property.

When he died in 1995, Kurtzo, who had no descendants, stipulated in his will that his 5-acre property on Flagler Road be used for a community center, park and wildlife refuge, but that no land be cleared for parking.

“He envisioned a place where people could come together for playing cards, drinking coffee, whatever,” said John Illman, an island resident and long-time acquaintance.

“He really wanted his property to be used for community purposes.”

Board formed in 2002

When it wasn’t deemed feasible to build on the site, a Joe Kurtzo Advisory Board was formed in 2002, said Kirstie Young, who gave a history of the project at the dedication.

The board worked with Jefferson Land Trust to establish conservation easements on 4 forested acres for wildlife, with proceeds from the sale of the property designated for community projects.

The Nordland Garden Club’s proposal to build the pavilion was approved in 2005, Young said, and in June this year, the garden club broke ground for the pavilion, a sturdy structure set on large posts.

“Joe did a lot of building,” said Lawrence Johnson, who lived across the road from Kurtzo and purchased the property.

“He would have been amazed at the integrity of this building.”

“And he wouldn’t have thought a cougar would come through the roof,” said Liz Hazen, referring to an island story about a mountain lion that jumped on top of one of Kurtzo’s sheds and crashed through the roof.

Young, who headed the garden club’s long-range planning efforts, said resident artist Michael Kowalski drew up the original plan for the pavilion.

The design was modified by Duane Hagerty, a garden club neighbor who led the construction effort. Young’s husband, Eric Young, engineered the plans, and Johnson supplied the lumber from his business, Carl’s Building Supply.

Volunteers who worked on the 30-by 22-foot pavilion included Jake Johnson, who did excavation and fill; Hank Hazen, who helped put on the roof and the pine panel ceiling, and Josh Post, who helped with construction, Young said.

She also thanked Hagerty’s daughter, Briane, who helped out, and her own sons, Garrett, 19, and Keegan, 18, who stained the posts and and sealed the ceiling.

She also acknowledged Roger Eichman, who cleaned up around the pavilion and moved a rock into place for the plaque, and Barry Lerich, who framed and installed a sign in front of the garden club clubhouse.

Another plaque due

Another plaque will be installed in a rock next to the pavilion, and a native plant garden will be planted around it this fall, said Young, who worked with committee members Ellen Lerich, Leona Long, Joan Buhr and Marybelle Brown.

Young also acknowledged the Kurtzo Fund Advisory Board: Hank Hazen, Lawrence Johnson, Bob Van Etten, Bob Barrett, Dave Keeler, Ray Harker and John Mathiesen.

“We tried early on to honor his wishes on what he wanted to, but didn’t have the funds to back it up,” Van Etten said at the dedication.

The board authorized use of the fund for a restoration project at the East Beach Park Shelter, said Heidi Eisenhour of Jefferson Land Trust.

“Volunteers did a lot of work on both projects,” Eisenhour said.

Jean Eichman, garden club president, welcomed members and guests to Wednesday’s dedication.

The pavilion will be used for community events and can be reserved by island residents along with the garden club, which is located on Garden Club Road.

For more information, phone 360-385-5122.


Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at

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