3323 Harborview Drive
Gig Harbor, WA
- Stearns Net Shed
- HAER Number WA-186-K
- Present Owner: Stanley (Stan) Stearns, Isamira’s Restaurant, Gig Harbor Marina, Inc.
- Present Use: Arabella’s Landing marina clubhouse
- Historian: Shelly Leavens, summer 2009
Part I - Historical Information
Physical History of Buildings
- Date of Construction - Ca. 1930S (Original Structure Burned in 1940S) Ca. 1950S (Replacement Structure)
- Architect / Engineer - Not Known
- Builder / Contractor / Supplier - Andrew and Tony Gilich
- Original Plans - None Known
Alterations & Additions
In 1985, Stan and Judy Stearns purchased the Gilich (Stearns) net shed from Paul Gustufson who had begun the development of the property as a marina. Stan Stearns and his Texas-based company, Gig Harbor Marina, Inc., renovated the net shed from a storage space to a marina clubhouse that is used by boaters, permanent tenants, and transient moorage guests. The original general structural integrity is intact, but the renovation including capping pilings, re-roofing, re-siding, adding a new floor and interior walls, doors and windows. New low floats are equipped with 125V service at 20, 30, or 50 amps, or 250V service at 50 amps.
The Gilich (Stearns) net shed was built by Andrew and Antone (Tony) Gilich. It remained in the Gilich family for commercial fishing until it was purchased for development by Paul Gustafson, ca. early 1980s. The land occupied by the Stearns’ net sheds (Novak and Gilich) is within the historic Millville plat (the original Gig harbor settlement) and zoned "Waterfront Millville
(WM)” by the City of Gig Harbor. The complete remodel of the Gilich (Stearns) net shed resulted in Arabella’s Landing Marina Clubhouse in 1985, prior to the historic area designation.
I - Structural / Design Information
The Gilich (Stearns) net shed is approximately 1,800 square feet. The building is 24’ wide and 75’ long.
The Arabella’s Marina clubhouse (formerly the Gilich net shed) has had no changes to it since the original renovation 16 years ago. The Sterns’ used old growth cedar for siding, enclosed the open rafters for attic storage space and left the middle of the space open for multiple uses.
Condition of Fabric
The Gilich (Stearns) net shed has been completely remodeled. It has retained its rectangular shape as is typical of the vernacular, but has very little visible original fabric. The marina clubhouse that occupies the space is in good working condition.
As of 1999, “The Stearnses own four-and-one-half contiguous lots on the Gig Harbor waterfront, comprising 1.7 acres upland and 1.3 acres tidelands.”1 The Gilich (Stearns) net shed occupies one of those lots. The marina area is heavily landscaped and the net shed can be accessed via a large parking lot, where a paved path leads through the marina complex.
1 Stearns v. City of Gig Harbor. Court of Appeals Decision II, State of Washington. httPhone://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.plcourt=wa&vol=229129&invol=o01
Part III - Operations and Processes
The following refers to the operations and processes of the Gilich (Stearns) net shed in its historic context (pre-1985). It is not currently in use as a net shed.
Commercial fishing: purse seining.
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.
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 to 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.
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.
Part IV - Sources of Information
- Interview with John Moist, Arabella’s Landing Manger, June 16, 2009
- Ancich-Stanton, Lita Dawn. Gig Harbor Net Shed Survey. City of Gig Harbor, 2006.
- Harbor History Museum photo archives. Accessed June 2009.
- Lepow, Hannah. “Washington’s Fishing Sheds Get Boost.” National Trust for Historic Preservation. July 8, 2008. httPhone://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.
Likely Sources Not Yet Investigated
- Interview with remaining members of the Gilich family.