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Originally published Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Neighborhood of the week

Neighborhood of the week: Gorst

The small, unincorporated community of Gorst in Kitsap County has some of the most affordable homes in the region.

Special to The Seattle Times

Distance to downtown Seattle: About 20 miles, although most of that is covered by traveling on either the Bremerton-Seattle ferry (60 minutes) or the Southworth-Vashon-Fauntleroy ferry (40 minutes).

Schools: Gorst is served by the South Kitsap School District.

Recreation: Gold Mountain Golf Club. Features two municipal 18-hole championship golf courses; the Olympic Course was touted by Golf Magazine as one of the top 100 courses in the United States.

Historic fact: Gorst is named for the Gorst family, which settled there in the 1890s. Famous residents of Gorst include Vern Gorst, "grandfather" of United Airlines. — Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf

On one side of the road is a small "Entering Gorst" sign.

On the other side, a bigger sign: "FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS — REFINANCE — LOANS"

Welcome to Gorst in Kitsap County, a modest crossroads town that is home to some of the most affordable houses in the region.

Seven homes were recently listed for sale in Gorst and the prices ranged from $69,400 for a one-bedroom, one-bath house to a $235,900 house on 2.5 acres.

"To be honest, most of them are fixers," said Sue Harding, a real-estate agent with Reid Real Estate in nearby Belfair, adding that two of them were manufactured homes.

And the $69,400 home? "A true fixer — don't know if it's livable," she said, but noted that it came with "good septic" and natural-gas heating.

Homes in Gorst typically are sold as starter homes or investment property that's rented out, Harding said.

You might not even know it's in Gorst by its description since it's usually referred to as being "around" Port Orchard or Bremerton, she said.

"Everything seems to be growing into Gorst," Harding said.

And most everything seems to be traveling in and out of Gorst, a landmark for drivers flying by on the busy roads that serve as commuter corridors and also as popular escape routes for motorists from the Seattle area headed to Hood Canal.

This unincorporated town — set at the confluence of Highways 3 and 16 between Bremerton, Port Orchard and Belfair — is named for its founding family and features several small churches, two drive-through coffeeshops ("Espresso Gone Wild" and "Natte Latte"), an auto dealer, a strip club and a sprinkling of other small businesses.

The lots of the homes in Gorst that were for sale are fairly large by Seattle standards — 5,000 square feet and up — but small for that part of Kitsap County, Harding said.

Many were built during World War II as Bremerton and its shipyard boomed.

It also was the home of Vern Gorst, the so-called "Grandfather of United Airlines" who also operated Gorst Air Transport, which offered "Air Ferry" service between Bremerton and Seattle in the 1930s.

"It's a neat place," said Roy Lindberry, the pastor of Gorst Community Baptist Church and Harding's son.

"There was a time when Gorst was really a jumping, happening place. It kind of died down; it's more of an industrial place."

Hidden from the industrial part of town down by the water are quiet, winding country roads and streets with such names as "Pleasant" and "Birch" and "Hawthorne."

The homes are fairly modest, some more than others.

"It's kind of an eclectic neighborhood, some people keep their houses up well, some don't," Lindberry said.

Like many of the 40 or so members of his congregation, Lindberry lives outside of Gorst and is considered a commuter.

The Gorst Gas Mart sits with the highway just outside its front door and the community's neighborhoods set back to the other side.

The owner, Dan Milovich, was so busy he hardly had time to talk about the town, beyond noting he has a handful of residents who stop in for supplies. But, "it's mostly commuters coming through here."

A number of visitors, too. Gorst is a quick ferry trip away from downtown Seattle and just down the road from Bremerton National Airport and a motor sports park.

It's also near the Gold Mountain Golf Club that has received national attention.

Gold Mountain features two municipal 18-hole championship golf courses, one that was touted by Golf Magazine as one of the top 100 courses in the United States.

Another attraction is Elandan Gardens, home of the "World Famous Bonzai Garden." And locals rave about Jimmy D's Burger & Steak House.

This little community that overlooks scenic Sinclair Inlet just south of Bremerton contains a lot more than what motorists might see on the highway where there is posted a small "Entering Gorst" sign.

"There are a lot of nice things happening," Harding said.

Of course, it's Gorst.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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