Seat of Kitsap County and one of the oldest settlements on Kitsap Peninsula. In 1854 William Renton and Daniel Howard landed near the towering forests along the protected waters of the bay named Port Orchard by Captain George Vancouver, in honor of H. M. Orchard of the ship Discovery. Here they erected a sawmill. The success of this venture soon attracted shipbuilders, and the sound of hammers mingled with the hum of the sawmill. The first vessel built in Kitsap County, the I. I. Stevens, was launched here in 1855. The village which grew up around the mill was named Sidney for Sidney Stevens, who platted the townsite. Early in the 1890s, the Port Orchard Naval Station post office was established in Sidney, and in succeeding years the navy yard across the inlet assumed an important part in the town’s economy. In 1903, by an act of the State legislature, the name was officially changed to Port Orchard, and shortly thereafter the town was made the county seat.
By the 1940s, with the depletion of the forests on the peninsula, Port Orchard came to depend primarily upon construction work in the Navy Yard at Bremerton and upon the agricultural development of the surrounding country. It was also an important shipping point for ferns and huckleberry greens for the florist trade.
Present-day Port Orchard stretches along the rim of the bay, many of the buildings being built on pilings over the tide flats. East of the business district, the residential section climbs the steep hill, where terraced lawns, rock gardens, and bright flowers and shrubs make a colorful picture in midsummer. The courthouse crowns the hill.