A Working Gallery
In preparation for completion of the new Maritime Gallery—including enclosure and exciting new exhibits—the FV Shenandoah and Thunderbird Hull #1 are being conserved to bring Gig Harbor's boat building and fishing history to life.
FV Shenandoah is a 65-foot wooden fishing boat built in 1925. Recently named an American Treasure by the National Park Service, Shenandoah is iconic of Washington State's commercial fishing and boat building past. The boat was originally built for Pasco Dorotich and his son John with the intention of using it as a tender for Pasco's son-in-law's new cannery in Alaska. That lasted until the 1930s when fish traps were outlawed and John took over as skipper of the boat.
For the next 30 years, John fished the Salmon Banks in the San Juan Islands, where most Gig Harbor boats went that were too large for the new 58-foot rule in Alaska. After John died in 1966, the boat was sold to his third cousin, Tony Janovich who had been skippering boats since he was 15 years old. Tony and his brother George fished the boat until 1998 and then donated her to the Museum in 2000. She was hauled out of the water in 2003 and has been undergoing restoration ever since.
Although the boat will not return to the water, she will form the centerpiece of the newly completed gallery as an extraordinary step-aboard experience for visitors young and old.
Thunderbird Hull #1
Designed by naval architect Ben Seaborn and built by Gig Harbor boat builder Ed Hoppen, Thunderbird #1 is the original vessel built to answer a call. In 1957, the Douglas Fir Plywood Association issued a challenge: Design and build a plywood sailboat that could be built at home, sleep two, and be a racing contender. Hull #1 was launched in 1958, its design generating an international sensation. Thunderbird fleets can now be found across the United States and as far away as Australia and Japan.
Hull #1 is currently undergoing a full restoration and re-rigging so that she can be launched and sailed before being placed on permanent display in the new Maritime Gallery.
Conserving the FV Shenandoah, Completing our Maritime Gallery
In 2019, we launched the capital campaign to raise $2.5 million to conserve the 65-foot purse seiner, Shenandoah, enclose the gallery in which she is docked, and create new compelling exhibits. Listed on the Gig Harbor Historic Register, the Shenandoah was donated to the Harbor History Museum in 2000. The 1925 fishing vessel was built for Pasco Dorotich and his son John, and was purchased by their cousin Tony Janovich in 1967. Tony donated the boat to the Museum in 2000, shortly after his retirement.
If this boat could talk, what stories it could tell. Learn about the weird and wonderful objects that have been found aboard Shenandoah during the conservation/restoration process in our current special exhibit, "Treasures from the Shenandoah."
Follow the progress of the Shenandoah's restoration on Facebook @HHMShenandoah
Thank you to the following for their generous support of Project 224606:
• Washington State Heritage Capital Project Fund
• Jim & Carolyn Milgard
• NPS Save America's Treasures
• The Alstead Family
• Dr. Jon Kvinsland
• Peninsula Light Company
• Pierce County Historic Preservation Fund
• Port of Tacoma
• Individual Donors