Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stanich Netshed

Gig Harbor's Netsheds
(The Largest Inventory on Puget Sound)

This week's netshed is just down towards the water from the "Corner of Dorotich Street and Harborview Drive" a Harbor History Museum blog dated June 14, 2012.  

The topic of the blog was about the general store that was built on the corner. Following a fire which totally destroyed the existing store in 1924, Martin Stanich brought the property, rebuilt the store and named the new store Stanich Bros. Merchandise.  Martin turned it over to his sons to run and he continued to fish.  John preferred fishing and took over Welcome when his father Martin retired and  Tony continued to run the store.

John & Pauline Stanich 

John eventually married Pauline Castelan. Her story and her family's story were the subjects of a two-part blog Nicholas Castelan Daughter, Pauline Castelan Stanich and The Nicholas Castelan Family in September 2012.

Wedding photo: Mary Stanich and Mike Katich

Tony and John's sister Mary Stanich married Mike Katich, a very successful fisherman and businessman in 1920.  And to me, I think following the various threads connecting the history of our community is fascinating.  Because of this, and the fact that Mike was very close to his in-laws, I thought I would share a very, very brief glimpse into Mike's life.  
Katich family portrait

Mike and Mary Stanich Katich's first home at 3502 Harborview Drive was a white 2-story house with black shutters.  According to their grandson, Peter Katich, it is his understanding that Mike and Mary's house was the first residence to have a phone in Millville. They lived on Harborview Drive until 1941 when they sold the house to John and Pauline Castelan Stanich.  1941 was the same year Mike and Mary built and moved into their new home on Ross Avenue. 
Mike Katich & John Stanich

Mike's career was as a salmon purse seiner fisherman and then in 1911 acquiring his first boat "Independent."  Mike continued his career as skipper and as a limited partner in numerous fishing vessels.  Some of the boats he owned were:  "Independent" 1911; "Confidence" 1912; "St. Nicholas" 1914; "Mt. Tacoma" 1924; "Fidelity" 1925; "Sunrise Chief" 1929 and renamed "Britannia" in 1933; "Varsity" 1937; "Mary M" 1949 and "Notre Dame" 1946.  Mike didn't always fish on boats in which he had an interest.  Just as important were the boats he skippered that he didn't own - like Jack Bujacich's "Majestic"; Marco Markovich's "Memento"; Peter Ancich's "New World"; "Avalon" for Andrew Skansie; "Ranger" for Shanto Perovich; and Beritich's "Flying Fish". (From Lee Makovich's article entitled "Mike and Antone Katich, the Katich Years" in The Fishermen's News, January 1998)

Mary & Lena Stanich

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 STANICH NETSHED is the ninth 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 Stanich Netshed 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 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 range in age from their 60s (maybe 70s) to their early 20s. They are 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 family 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 see  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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