Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ancich Brothers Netshed

Gig Harbor Netsheds
(The Largest Inventory on the Puget Sound)

The consequence of circumstances.   This phrase caused me to think about the strange things that can happen without any foresight or planning.  In other words the result (in this instant of a trip) following an event (boarding the same boat for America).

Two unrelated young men, age 30 and age 25, bearing the same surname find themselves on a boat leaving Croatia and headed to America.  Those two young men were Peter Ancich and Martin Ancich.  So what?  They find that they are both going to Gig Harbor and both join the Croatian fishing community.  If this isn't enough, they acquire adjoining properties on the waterfront and build their homes and netsheds.  Unfortunately the older young man's home and first netshed burn but he does rebuild the netshed.

Last week we visited Martin Ancich and Nick Tarabochia's working netshed.  Today we are going to stop by Peter and John Ancich's netshed.  Check out a previous blog on Peter Ancich Sr.

We are quite lucky that the Ancich Brother's netshed is still standing.  It was almost lost a few years ago when, following the last Ancich brother, John's death.  The Executor of the Estate sold the property including the netshed to Butler & Steele, Real Estate developers who had plans to build two residential structures sharing a garage for, as I recall, 20 vehicles.  However due to various circumstances, Butler & Steele did not construct their project. 

Fortunately the City of Gig Harbor was successful with community backing of placing the netshed on the Gig Harbor Historic Register.  ow it is registered as a historic property under Resolution #743-A, adopted March 10, 2008 by Gig Harbor City Council.  And in August 2012 the property was purchased fby the City of Gig Harbor thereby saving the netshed.  At the present time the City of Gig Harbor and the City's Parks & Recreation Commission are reviewing various visioning proposals for the development and inclusion in the Historic Working Waterfront. 

I want to thank the City of Gig Harbor for allowing me to use material from the Historic American Engineering Survey on Gig Harbor Net Sheds.  The complete surveys can be located  

The old ANCICH BROTHERS NETSHED is the sixth of 17 netsheds along Gig Harbor’s waterfront and will be the subject of this week’s blog.  A copy of the survey can be accessed at  The survey includes Engineered drawings in Plan and Profile thanks to funds provided by the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the National Trust.  To view images of the Ancich Brothers Netshed (now owned by City of Gig Harbor) go to  

You can also obtain a copy of a brochure for a self-guided tour of the 17 netsheds from the City of Gig Harbor, the Harbor History Museum, or the Chamber of Commerce or click 

To me and many others, the netsheds of Gig Harbor are a constant reminder of the first major industry here after the white settlers arrived.  It was the Europeans escaping hard times in their homelands that came to Gig Harbor and either took up fishing or continued fishing earning them and their families a livelihood on the water harvesting the bountiful fish in the surrounding waters.  The principle fishermen were Croatians, but there were many Scandinavians as well.

The 'netsheds' were built by the immigrants to provide a place to mend nets, repair their boats, provide a gathering place between fishing seasons and perform other jobs necessary to get their boats ready for the next venture at sea.  Fishing is a full time job otherwise known as "12-month job".  Many men fished the Pacific Ocean waters from the coast of South America to the Bering Sea.

Today's fishermen ranging in age from their 60s (maybe 70s) to their early 20s are still carrying on the traditions and values of their ancestors. Fishing is a living, thriving, industry - young people still enter the fishing profession after completing their education.   Over the past 36 years that I have lived in Gig Harbor I have seen many historic net sheds and fishing families properties disappear.  Some of these historic properties have changed hands and have been adapted to reuse and rebuilt retaining little if any of the original features.  

When you look at the west side of Gig Harbor Bay and you'll find  the 17 net sheds we are identifying in this and the other 16 blogs, you can see the remnants of what was one of the most vibrant working waterfronts on the Puget Sound.

Okay, so now I have encouraged you to check out a few of these structures -  how do you go about it? As I mentioned earlier, the City of Gig Harbor has prepared a brochure for a self-guided tour of all 17 net sheds.  Grab a copy and then decide how you are going to do it. But remember that except for the Skansie and Ancich Brothers netsheds these netsheds are privately owned and you will need permission from the owner to enter unless they are operated as a business enterprise open to the public.

If you have a boat, that is the best way; it allows you to close your eyes and visualize how busy those properties were in their heyday.  But, though not quite as impressive, you can do the same thing walking along Harborview from the old Ferry dock at the mouth of the harbor all the way up to West Shore Marina.  

Tune in next week for the next in our series on the historic net sheds of Gig Harbor.

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