A lot has changed in Longbranch since this photo was taken in 1909. The Narrows Bridge replaced the Longbranch-Steilacoom county ferry. Local farmers took their eggs, berries and holly to market using the new highway. But the little village at the southern end of the Key Peninsula continued to prosper and grow.
Today Longbranch is the home of choice for those who value natural beauty, clean air and the riches of the southern Puget Sound. We have all chosen to live “at the end of the road” for our own reasons, but we all share a love of community, culture and the pioneer spirit.
Investing in the South Key community, The Longbranch Foundation has been created to perpetuate the best of what’s here, and the potential for what can be for those who follow us. Click here to read our latest news.
The Foundation supports the Longbranch Improvement Club and all that it has stood for since visionaries created it in 1921. “To improve the community…” is just as worthy a mission today, and the the Foundation encourages charitable support of that goal.
A LITTLE HISTORY of THE LONGBRANCH IMPROVEMENT CLUB
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
What is an Improvement Club? Many neighbors on the Key Peninsula have heard about The Longbranch Improvement Club (LIC), but don’t know much about it. According to the original Articles of Incorporation, the club formed a corporation in 1921 to buy “Real Estate for the purpose of a Consolidated School, Athletic, and Picnic purposes and to encourage any activity for the betterment of Schools, Homemaking, Roads, Marketing, Dairy, Poultry and all its branches.”
According to Key Peninsula Historical Society & Museum, “Improvement clubs grew out of the Progressive Movement that swept the nation from the 1870s to the 1920s. Civic duty and improving the quality of life were to be based on new learning and technology. This was a national focus, and Teddy Roosevelt tasked communities to focus on rural improvement.” It is interesting to note that even the City of Tacoma had an improvement club at one time; a scattering of improvement clubs remain active today.
In the 1940s when School #328 was discontinued, the LIC assumed ownership of the former gymnasium building, built in 1934 as a WPA project during the Great Depression. The old Pierce County pier in Filucy Bay had been abandoned in the 1930s when “Mosquito Fleet” ferry service to Longbranch was discontinued. In 1959, members of the LIC, through agreements with Pierce County and Washington state, took over management and maintenance of the marina. They built a 168-foot pier and attached it to the old county dock.
Today, the LIC continues to be active on the Key Peninsula. The building and marina still serve in the spirit of the founders of the LIC. The marina is open to the public for use by local and visiting boaters. The clubhouse, now on the Register of National Historic Places, is used by the club for events and is available for rent. In addition, the local Fire District uses the property for helicopter evacuation practices, and the Parks District holds a Day Camp at the facility each summer.
THE LONGBRANCH IMPROVEMENT CLUB: ANNUAL REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY
April 1, 2018
In 2017, we worked to preserve our properties and environment, and to provide resources needed in the community. Our highlights include the following:
THE LONGBRANCH IMPROVEMENT CLUB
Membership: We gained 50 members in 2017 for a year-end total of 201 people. We created a new membership class called “Friends of the LIC”, which is free and includes our monthly Newsletter and email communications about events. The LIC is a 100% volunteer organization, and our members logged more than 5,630 hours for dozens of activities in 2017.
Our monthly membership meetings feature either potluck dinners or desserts. Odd numbered months have a dessert potluck and feature programs ranging from local interest to world-wide adventures. You need not be a member to attend meetings and are invited to do so – meetings are normally the third Wednesday of the month starting at 6:30pm, except December when it is the second Wednesday.
Buildings and Grounds: In 2017, the LIC received its second Preservation Grant from Pierce County for restoration work on our historic clubhouse. The work included renovating windows, installing correct period doors, and staining / painting the kitchen cupboards, supports and ceiling timbers in the meeting room. We will apply for another grant in 2018 to continue the restoration. Incidentally, the plaque commemorating the building’s listing on the National Historic Register indicates it was built in 1938, so we’re marking its 80th year!
The trail system was expanded and portions re-graveled with the help of Boy Scouts, who also assisted with replacement of a long bridge over the creek flowing through the property, and construction of two shorter pedestrian bridges.
Events and Activities: We held numerous events in 2017, including “Suds & Spuds” in March, and three holiday weekend dances (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends). Our “Kids & Christmas” program followed through with the pledge that every child who attends receives at least one gift at Christmas time. More than 150 children attended in 2017, had lunch, and went home with a gift that came about from our partnership with the “Toys for Tots” program. Forty-seven local Girl Scouts hosted craft tables so the kids could make ornaments and gifts.
The LIC again participated in the Key Peninsula Farm Tour and hosted its Fiber Arts Festival, showcasing numerous artists that work with threads and other fiber mediums. It also hosted, along with Evergreen Elementary PTA and local Girl Scouts, approximately 400 kids at “Trunk – or – Treat” in October, which included a haunted house, crafts, gifts, and treats galore. The LIC is part of the “Adopt-A-Road” program and we conducted two clean-ups of approximately three miles of K P Hwy.
These activities are a rich part of the LIC heritage and we look forward to even greater participation from the community in the years to come. (See also www.licweb.org for more info.)
Marina: We passed the 60 year mark in operating the Longbranch Marina. It presently has 40 moorage slips ranging in length from 22’ to 40’, plus a dinghy dock float for visiting boaters that anchor out in Filucy Bay. Approximately 1/3 of the marina’s linear footage is devoted to guest moorage and we hosted 960 guest moorage overnight visits in 2017.
The LIC agreed to a new 15-year Aquatic Lands Lease with the WA Department of Natural Resources in April 2017. This lease requires a number of future upgrades designed to improve Filucy Bay water quality and public safety.
In 2017, seven creosote pilings were replaced with steel pilings. Over the past seven years, the LIC has invested significantly to make upgrades that enhance water quality, marine life and public safety. Recently, a grant from the State was approved for additional environmental and public safety measures, and that grant gives us a jumpstart on our upgrade schedule.
THE LONGBRANCH FOUNDATION
The Longbranch Foundation, established in 2016, is dedicated to “Investing in the South Key Community”. In 2017, TLF financially supported LIC goals to maintain and improve our historic clubhouse and recreational grounds.
Thanks to incredible support from the community and LIC members at our biennial dinner and auction, enough money was raised to establish a sustainable plan that increases support for Key Peninsula children over time. In our Higher Ed Scholarship program, TLF awarded two new scholarships to Peninsula High School students and one continuing scholarship. In our Student Programs, TLF increased the level of support to send Evergreen Elementary School 5th Graders to Environmental Camp. The plan for 2018 is to again increase funding for both programs.
In addition, TLF was able to donate to Red Barn Youth Center and the KP Farm Council. Support for qualifying organizations comes from targeted donations as well as filling grant requests. Grants are currently awarded to qualifying organizations on a rolling basis, but we will be implementing a change in 2018 to a fixed schedule. Please check our website under “About Us – What We DO” for grant processing information.
In February 2018, we held our first Annual TLF Open House. The charitable purposes of the Foundation were explained by LIC volunteers and many members of the community stopped by to learn more about us. In addition, LIC volunteers are currently planning the “Longbranch Super Sale” scheduled for April 28th with proceeds going to preserve and improve our historic building and grounds.
The Longbranch Improvement Club has remained committed for nearly 100 years to fulfilling its mission, which is “… for the Betterment of the Community”, and it is now joined by The Longbranch Foundation in that effort. Both organizations are evolving and we look forward to continuing to improve our support for the South Key Peninsula. Much credit goes to our members and residents of the broader community – Thank You!
The Longbranch Foundation is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization associated with The Longbranch Improvement Club. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.