HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING SURVEY
GIG HARBOR NET SHEDS  

ROSS NET SHED

(WHITTIER NET SHED) 
HAER No. WA-186-L

 

LOCATION

3309 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, Pierce County, Washington

PRESENT OWNER

Pete Whittier, Gig Harbor Fishing Co., Gig Harbor

PRESENT USE

Residential use.

SIGNIFICANCE

The seventeen extant net sheds in Gig Harbor, Washington, are significant as remnants of the community’s cultural heritage and economic development. Families, mostly of Croatian ancestry, have passed down the net sheds and fishing vessels for several generations. Many of the extant net sheds are an integral part of successful commercial fishing operations and are used for storing and mending fishing nets as well as repairing the equipment used for commercial vessels. Except for the remaining commercial fishing boats in the harbor, net sheds are the only surviving architectural connection between the community and what was once one of the most successful fishing fleets on the west coast.

HISTORIAN

PROJECT INFORMATION

The City of Gig Harbor has taken steps to provide incentives for property owners who retain historic net sheds, and in 2006, conducted a general survey of the seventeen remaining structures lining the harbor’s waterfront. In 2008, Mildred Andrews of the Andrews Group completed an independent survey of Gig Harbor’s historic downtown. The city secured grant funds from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to document the net sheds for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), a division of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Todd Croteau, of the HAER Maritime Program, supervised the documentation team, which consisted of Brian Diveley and Shelly Leavens, both Sally Kress Tompkins Maritime Documentation Interns. A survey team of students from Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Washington, also lent support to the documentation effort. The documentation team’s liaison to the net shed owners is the City of Gig Harbor’s Special Projects Coordinator, Lita Dawn Stanton.

 

 

PART I -- HISTORICAL INFORMATION

PHYSICAL HISTORY OF BUILDINGS

DATE OF CONSTRUCTION -- Ca. 1925
ARCHITECT / ENGINEER -- Not known
BUILDER / CONTRACTOR / SUPPLIER:
ORIGINAL PLANS -- None known
ALTERATIONS AND ADDITIONS

The Adam Ross net shed was remodeled.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

 

 

PART II -- STRUCTURAL / DESIGN INFORMATION

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The net shed is approximately --’ wide and --’ long, around 2,820 square feet, not including the covered -- .

1.  CHARACTER
2.  CONDITION OF FABRIC

SITE LAYOUT

 

 

PART III -- OPERATIONS AND PROCESSES

OPERATIONS

MACHINES

Not known.

TECHNOLOGY

Purse Seine -- A purse seine is a large net hauled out by a smaller boat or “skiff” to form a large circle. Fishermen pull the bottom of the netting, “pursing” it closed to capture schools of fish. Once the net is pulled aboard by a “power block” or “reel”, the final length of net full of fish is either pulled on-board, or a smaller “brailing” net is used to scoop the catch and load it into the vessel’s hatch. A cannery boat or “tender” typically transfers the fish to the cannery. Historically, fishermen of Gig Harbor have used this method to catch salmon, sardine and herring.

Cotton Nets -- In the 1930s and 1940s, while the Stanich net shed was in high use, fishermen tarred their cotton seine nets in order to hold their shape and keep them from rotting. The community had a large vat where the Millville Marina (HAER No. WA-186-G) is now, where they would soak the netting in the hot tar, then wring the net in rollers, to be stacked in the

back of trucks and spread it out in a nearby field. As the nets dried, the crew would take the net strips and spread them apart to prevent the pieces from sticking together. Typically the crew of the seining operation would do the tarring and mending of nets 2-3 months prior to leaving to fish, as part of overall preparations. Cotton nets would also need more mending and patching than nylon nets, which did not come into use until after WWII in the early 1950’s.

WORKERS

A crew of five men generally operate each purse seiner, though before the advent of nylon nets (post-WWII) and the power block (1954), seining crews were usually made up of 8 to 10 men.

ASSOCIATED VESSELS

Not known.

 

 

PART IV -- SOURCES OF INFORMATION

PRIMARY SOURCES

SECONDARY SOURCES

Ancich-Stanton, Lita Dawn. Gig Harbor Net Sheds Survey. City of Gig Harbor, 2006.

Andrews, Mildred. “Andrews Group Report.” 2008.

Harbor History Museum photo archives. Accessed June 2009.

Lepow, Hannah. “Washington’s Fishing Sheds Get Boost.” National Trust for Historic Preservation. July 8, 2008. http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2008. Accessed June 2, 2009.

“Living on the Edge: Most Endangered Historic Properties List – 2008.” Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, 2008.

More Information

 

 

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