Our relationship with The Bremer Trust, spanning all 30 years of our firm’s history, is an example of a great community partnership aligned around a shared mission to see Bremerton remain viable as an urban place.
The Bremer Trust, a real estate trust created to benefit Bremerton’s Olympic College, manages the former holdings of John and Edward Bremer (both deceased), real estate barons and sons of Bremerton’s founder William Bremer and his wife, Sophia. The Trust was Rice Fergus Miller’s first client in Bremerton. Needing to diversify their stock of 40’s- and 50’s era retail buildings in order to survive downtown following the opening of a regional outlying shopping mall, Rice Fergus Miller and Trustee Michael D. Connolly, VP of Administration at Olympic College, and project manager Rich McDonald teamed dozens of times to renovate nearly every one of the Trust’s twenty buildings in Bremerton’s downtown core.
This relationship led to Rice Fergus Miller performing years of new, renovation, and planning projects at Olympic College. In 2007, we designed the OC’s Sophia Bremer Child Development Center, a facility that would unlock the logjam to student access and help OC grow. The center, honoring the Bremer family matriarch, was partially funded by a generous gift from the Bremer Trust — on land acquired by the Trust.
Now, Rice Fergus Miller and Trustees are engaged with other community partners in an effort to help reimagine Bremerton’s 4th Street, location of several Trust properties, as another key piece to downtown’s further revitalization. Ironically, mid-block on Fourth Street is the Singer Building, which RFM purchased from the Trust in 1991 and was the firm’s home for twenty years. Rice Fergus Miller partners have now recently sold the singer Building to a start-up craft brewery, ready to become an example of the kind of change that will bring new vitality to Bremerton.
The client-architect relationship begun between Rice Fergus Miller and the Bremer trust in 1988 has benefitted the community in many ways, brought a career-level satisfaction to the firm, and it’s still at work today.