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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stone Boat Yard...


...that's who they were, and that's what we've called them...NOT! (Finding the forgotten partners of the Stone Family boatyards.)

By Sara Diamond, Archivist.

Sometimes a simple fact checking exercise leads to surprising discoveries. That's what happened when I was wrapping up the final details of one of our newer collections, the Jack Ehrhorn collection of Stone Boat Yard naval architectural drawings (HDC1611, SAFR 22826).

I decided to double check the business addresses of the boatyards W. Frank Stone operated in Tiburon from 1893 until 1899, and at Harbor View, in San Francisco, from 1899-1911. Imagine my surprise when I was unable to find a listing for W.F. Stone boatyard in either the San Francisco City Directory or in the Marin County Directory. What I found instead were two previously unacknowledged business partners.

From 1853 until 1975 three generations of the Stone family built some of the most celebrated wooden work, pleasure and racing craft to come from the shores of San Francisco Bay; and until 2004, Stone Boat Yard continued to carry the family name and legacy under new ownership. As the businesses grew and evolved over 141 years, William Isaac Stone, his son W. Frank Stone, and his grandson Lester F. Stone opened and closed boatyards in two San Francisco locations, in Tiburon (Marin), and on both sides of the Oakland-Alameda estuary. In the Historic Documents Department we refer to these boatyards by the shorthand "Stone Boat Yard," and more formally as the W. I. Stone boatyard, the W. F. Stone boatyard, the W. F. Stone & Son boatyard, and finally, as the Stone Boat Yard. These names reflect the history of primary ownership change and were, we assumed, the correct and incorporated business names. Our assumptions were wrong.

I've found a Swann amidst the ducklings of Tiburon. From 1893 to 1899 Frank Stone operated a boatbuilding yard on Beach Street in Tiburon in 1893, in partnership with someone only identified as Swann, and the business was called Stone & Swann. Who was Swann? I don't know! The only information I have comes from a business card which was duplicated on page 62 of James Heig's Pictorial History of Tiburon (San Francisco: 1984). Do you know who Mr. or Ms. Swann was? If so, please leave a comment.

Another heretofore unknown individual person was Edgar N. Van Bergen, Frank Stone's business partner at Harbor View in San Francisco, where they did business as Stone & Van Bergen from 1899 until 1911. After his stint in the shipbuilding business, Edgar Van Bergen became the general manager of a liquor wholesaler on Battery St. in San Francisco. Edgar's path through San Francisco can be followed in the pages of Crocker & Langley's San Francisco City Directories. Do you know anything more about Edgar? If you do, please let us know on the comment page.

I guess the cold fog and sharp wind got on Frank Stone's nerves. In 1912 he moved his home and business to the sunnier side of the bay where he owned and operated a shipyard in partnership with his son, Lester, until his death in 1924. W.F. Stone & Son built wooden boats along the shores of the estuary in Oakland from 1912 to 1941, and in Alameda from 1941 to 1975.

You can find out more about this collection by looking at the finding aid on the Online Archive of California.

Mirrored from Full Fathom Five, due to its lack of rss feed & functioning commenting.

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