Eddon Boat History
HISTORY OF EDDON BOATyard
“Few historic buildings in the Pacific Northwest are more perfectly a product of their place than Eddon Boatyard. Constructed of native wood framing, the small industrial complex is carved into the protected shoreline of Gig Harbor and shaped entirely by its function as a boatbuilding shop constructed around a small marine railway. In a community named for a small wooden boat, the Eddon Boatyard typifies Gig Harbor’s maritime connections to commercial fishing vessels, working boats and pleasure craft.” -- Michael Sullivan ARTIFACTS CONSULTING
Ed Hoppen and Don Harder founded "Ed-Don" Boat Company in 1946. The original Eddon Boat Co. was landlocked near the current location of Tower Lanes on Tacoma's 6th Avenue. Weary of trucking newly built large craft to the Tacoma Tide Flats for launching Ed and Don purchased the Glein Boat Building Co. on Gig Harbor's waterfront in 1950. The site was once home to the historic Conrad Anderson Boatyard. Art Glein built the boatyard buildings including brick home you see today in 1945. (click image to enlarge)
The Ed and Don partnership dissolved in 1952 but the Eddon name stuck. The historic Eddon Boatyard structure survived three fire events in the 1950s and 60s. The Lumber Company located to the immediate south burned first, sending exploding solvent barrels out into the bay. The building located approximately 50 feet to the north burned next. Eddon Boatyard was saved due to the fire department's steady drenching of the boatyard building. And finally, an electrical fire broke out in the boatyard office coming close to igniting the boatyard. Charred wood is still visible. Several BoatShop board members can tell you that story -- they were there.
Conrad Anderson's yard built mostly commercial craft from skiffs to purse seiners until the mid 1940s. From 1945 to 1950 Glein Boatbuilding Company launched a variety of commercial fishboats and an array of locally designed pleasure boats like the Estrellita, a 47 foot Ed Monk designed yacht. Glein Boatbuilding Company laid the keel for the Estrellita and the Eddon Boat Company completed the job and launched her. Eddon Boat Company carried on by building boom tugs, yachts, a few fishing vessels, and most notably the first Thunderbird Sailboats. In late 1977 The Hoppen family sold Eddon Boatyard to Breck Adams who renamed the yard to Blue Heron Yachts. Adams ran the boatyard until 1981. After Blue Heron Yachts closed the boatyard property was purchased by a series of investors and while it functioned as a boatyard, it was not owner operated. Finally in 2003 the property owner proposed to demolish the boatyard and develop seven upscale homes and a marina on the site. (click any image to enlarge)
With the property posted for sale, long-time residents Guy Hoppen, John McMillan, Lita Dawn Ancich-Stanton, and Chuck Hunter (later elected Mayor in 2006) joined together to develop a strong grassroots advocacy group in 2004. Pictured below, they received a Special Achievement Award from the Washington State Department of Archaeology in 2006 for their preservation work. (click any image to enlarge)
After over six months of citizen door belling, letter writing, and at the suggestion of former Mayor Jake Bujacich - City Council members voted to place the property on the ballot as a $3.5 million bond issue. Citizens of Gig Harbor voted overwhelming (62%) in favor of preserving the historic structure AND its traditional use.
The image below taken in 2005 shows the broad street-face boundary of what is now, Eddon Boat Park. (The top of the Boatyard building is seen far left.) The community turned out for a spontaneous call to demonstrate their support in this panoramic photograph.
In 2005, the City of Gig Harbor posted a "call for proposals" from the community. The Gig Harbor BoatShop's proposal was accepted. By 2007, the City signed a 20-year lease with GHB for use of the boatyard building. A 2010 Washington State Heritage Capital Projects Fund (HCPF) was used to restore the boatyard building. Another HCPF grant award was used to reconstruct the boatyard pier and float in 2012. The Marine Railways restoration has been a partnership between the Gig Harbor BoatShop, Washington State and the City of Gig Harbor with yet another HCPF grant award. (click on any before-and-after image below to enlarge)
The Eddon Boatyard Project and story is a sample of what a community can do when working together for a common goal. But we're not done yet. The boatyard house has yet to be restored and there is more construction required to complete the marine railways. The boatyard house will be available for community use and BoatShop programming use when restored. The marine railways are the final piece of the infrastructure puzzle. When completed the Eddon Boatyard will be one of very few community boatyards in the nation.