2008 Washington State Endangered Historic Properties — Gig Harbor Net Sheds

On May 27, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation representatives were in Tacoma to announce its annual list of Washington State’s Most Endangered Historic Places. The list dates back to 1992, and aims to raise awareness of historic properties that face demolition by redevelopment or neglect. Over the past 16 years, according to the organization, Washington Trust has placed nearly 100 threatened sites nominated by concerned citizens and organizations across the state. The organization also assists historic preservation advocates in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats.

This year’s list was presented during a press conference on the bridge deck of the 95-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge, which was one of seven endangered historic properties for 2008.

Beginning today, the Index will publish a profile of each endangered property — as compiled by Washington Trust — each day over the next eight days.

Here is what the Washington Trust had to say about the historic Net Sheds in Gig Harbor.

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Next to the fishing vessels themselves, net sheds represent the most important architectural by-product of the commercial fishing industry for Gig Harbor. Croatian immigrants began to settle in the area around 1900, establishing Millville, one of the harbor’s first towns, along the western shore. With commercial fishing as the predominant industry, easy access to land for loading and unloading gear was essential. Modest docks built on wood piles developed along the waterfront with, in many cases, the family home constructed behind these net sheds. In addition to workplaces, these simple wood piers and covered structures served as gathering places for skippers, crews and their families.

As land values climb and property taxes increase, these simple architectural treasures are being demolished and replaced by condos and marinas. By bringing recognition to this endangered cultural resource, more substantial incentives to preserve them become possible. The City of Gig Harbor has taken steps to provide incentives for property owners who retain historic net sheds and recently conducted a survey of the remaining structures lining the harbor’s waterfront. Such proactive measures will work toward preserving these emblems of Gig Harbor’s heritage.

For more information, visit wa-trust.org.