Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ancich-Tarabochia Netshed

Gig Harbor Net Sheds
(The Largest Inventory on the Puget Sound

As we  walk along the waterfront and visit the various netsheds, what type reaction do you feel?  Are you just looking at some old buildings with very little architectural interest?  Or do you find yourself reminiscing about the lives of the fishermen, especially in the the first half of the 20th century?  

I hope the recognition of what a busy hard-working waterfront the harbor was is becoming more visible and allows you to see it as it before many properties changed hands and netsheds were replaced by pleasure craft marinas.  And although we are only concentrating on the west side of the harbor, the east side (Pierce County) was also engaged in maritime activities:  net sheds, boatbuilding and other maritime activities.  

We started our tour of the working waterfront at the Gilich Netshed, Morin/Lovrovich Netshed and then came to Conrad M.Anderson's Anderson Boatyard where Conrad built approximately 15 larger fishing vessels in the 1920-1930s.  Although this is not a netshed, but instead a boatyard, it is important when speaking of the working waterfront.  It was and continues to be a constant reminder of Gig Harbor's importance as a working waterfront.  Conrad's sons ran the boatyard after their father retired until World War II and the boatyard closed until Art Glein bought it in 1945.  You can read about Art Glein, Glein Boatbuilding (Eddon Boatyard) published July 26, 2012 at Harbor History Museum Blog. 

The next owners were Ed Hoppen and Don Harper who bought the yard in 1950.  Today the property is owned by the City of Gig Harbor and leased to Gig Harbor Boatshop where important maritime skills, workshops and waterfront events are held.  Stop by and chat with the folks there to learn even more about our working waterfront. 

As we continued along on our walk we visited the Bujacich Netshed and the Ivanovich Netshed.  Today we'll stop at the Ancich-Tarabochia Netshed, the fifth one on our tour.

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-TARABOCHIA NETSHED is the fifth 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-Tarabochia Netshed (now owned by George Ancich and Nick Tarabochia, Jr) 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 next 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 netshed these net sheds 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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