The Robert P. Smiley Boy Scout Hall in Kingston is set to receive a facelift this spring after years of fundraising efforts. Additionally, the Kingston Historical Society has applied to have the hall designated as a historical site.
The original boy scout troop in Kingston, Toop 528, was charted in 1936 but moved to Ollala in 1946. When Kingston Post 7329 VFW arrived in 1948, Major. Albert H. Swift sponsored a new troop, christening it Troop 555 otherwise known as “The Triple Nickel.”
The program struggled to generate participation until 1951, when former Eagle Scout, Robert P. Smiley was able to revive it by holding the first meeting in the basement of a nearby service station. Until the hall was completed in 1961, the meetings were held at the homes of various scoutmasters.
Smiley met with Kitsap County Commissioner Ed Swan at the site on the northwest corner of Kola Kole Park, to authorize the building of the hall at that site. According to information presented to the state, the agreement was sealed with only a handshake that was witnessed by Smiley’s son, Robert J. Smiley and no legal documents were signed.
Construction on the hall began in 1959, with eleven volunteers plus the scouts themselves. Wood and logs were donated by the Port Gamble Mill while Art and Darrell Steele along with Bill and Sonny Woodward poured the concrete slab on which it sits. Art Steele solicited businesses for materials while Smiley collected $900 to go towards construction by collecting newspapers.
Over the decades the biggest issue for the scout hall has been participation in the scouting program.
In fact, in 1986 the fire department threatened to tear down the hall because it appeared to be abandoned due to lack of scouts. Smiley again rallied the community and within 30 days and again with help from an Eagle Scout a former Scoutmaster, Allen Chessman, they were able to clean the building up and shutter the broken windows. Monthly pancake breakfasts were held in the VFW Hall to raise funds and recruit more scouts.
In 1993 county commissioner Chris Endresen reassured Troop 555 that they had use of the scout hall as long as there was an active troop in Kingston.
From 1961 to 2018 Troop 555 has produced 42 Eagle Scouts who have projects all over North Kitsap.
The first time the scout hall ever received any kind of restoration was in 1996. The hall was given a new roof, new interior, and a new paint job. A plaque was dedicated to the builders of the original hall. The hall was dedicated to Smiley on the 50th anniversary of the revival of the troop in 2001.
After his passing in 1993, a foundation was created in Smiley’s name, The Smiley Charitable Fund, which donated $14,000 in 2019 challenging the Kingston North Kitsap Rotary Club to match the donations for a second restoration of the Scout Hall. The club became sponsors of the scouts in August 2019.
“[The Scout Hall ] has served for nearly 60 years as a haven for young men in Kingston, and its surrounding communities … to develop as citizens, to embark on adventures in wilderness areas around the region and to realize improvement projects with positive and lasting effects on Kitsap County,” Duane Drummond, committee chairman of Troop 1555 said.