The Old Town Pub recently made news when it was reported that Kitsap County declared the building unsafe and set a deadline for it to be vacated. The building is owned by the Port of Silverdale.
We do not yet know this 106-year-old building’s fate. But you should know its story.
John J. Emel built the three-story building, 3473 NW Byron St., from 1911-13 for his Emel’s Livery Stable & Hall. The stable was located on street level, the Silverdale Community Hall occupied the second floor, and a lodge occupied the third floor.
Upstairs, the community hall had dances and movies once a week for a nickel. Silverdale High School’s 1915 graduation ceremony took place in the hall. Some people think the ceremony took place in the Yeoman’s Hall building, but in 1915 the Yeoman’s Hall building was still on pilings out off the beach, not in its present location on Washington Avenue, nor was it this large of a facility.
City directories of the day document some of the building’s first-floor uses. The livery and feed stable business was conducted here until automobiles and trucks reduced that business. In 1926, Emel opened Silverdale Restaurant on the first floor, with a beer parlor. At one time, the building housed a grocery store; a small addition on the west side housed a barber and beauty shop.
A horse enthusiast, in 1922, Emel built a fairgrounds and race track on 40 acres northwest of Silverdale. It included a grandstand, dance pavilion, tennis court, and football and baseball fields in the center. Emel sold the 40-acre site to Joseph B. Yoder in 1928. It’s now the site of Central Kitsap Middle School.
Silverdale Restaurant was located at the former Emel’s Livery Stable from 1926 to 1941, the year Emel died. It became Pickles Tavern in 1946, and operated under that name until 1969. There are rumors of other activities happening in the building during WWII, legitimate as well as not.
In January 1946, Al and June Graden moved to town from Michigan, taking over his father’s business. In 1948, Al’s Shoe Service, owned and operated by Graden, moved to what was now the Pickles Building. Silverdale Taxi also had a stand here.
Pickles Tavern later became the Stables Tavern, owned by World War II Navy veteran Guy R. Leahy. He also owned the Wheelhouse Tavern and the Anchor Tavern in Bremerton. In 1973, the building was purchased by Fred K. and Mary T. Lanouette and the tavern became the Old Town Pub.
About John J. Emel: the brother of Lone Rock’s Peter Frank Emel, John was born in February 1871 in Carrick, Ontario, Canada. In 1889, he and Anna L. Nilson, a native of Sweden, married. He died on Sept. 19, 1941, according to the Bremerton Sun, “at the Port Orchard hospital.” He was survived by his wife, a niece, and four nephews. He was interred at Ivy Green Cemetery. Mrs. Emel passed away in 1951 in a Tacoma rest home and also was interred at Ivy Green Cemetery.
— Past & Present is written by Randy Hunt of the Central Kitsap History Club.