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The FV Shenandoah Named an American Treasure
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com - restoration, conservation, fishing boat, wooden boat, historical boat, Gig Harbor, Shenandoah
Contributed By: Robin Harrison
Email The Author: operations@harborhistorymuseum.org
Website: http://www.harborhistorymuseum.org

The FV Shenandoah Named an American Treasure
Gig Harbor, WA – The Harbor History Museum is pleased to announce the award of a
$130,453 Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Park Service and the Institute of Library and Museum Services. This grant is one of 42 preservation and conservation projects representing 26 states that were recently recognized through the program. It is the only project in Washington State included in the 2020 grant round.

“We are extremely proud to have Gig Harbor’s rich fishing heritage recognized through this grant,” says Stephanie Lile, the Museum’s Director and Curator. “This puts our project and our city on the federal preservation stage along with projects from Mystic Seaport, the American Folk-Art Museum, and the National Building Museum. It’s one of only three vessel projects awarded, including the US Navy Submarine USS Cod, the John F. Nash Tugboat, and the FV Shenandoah.”

Funds from this grant go directly toward the conservation of the Shenandoah’s deckhouse, rebuilt in 1949 at Glein Boat (now home to Gig Harbor BoatShop), and the construction of her mast. The Museum has adopted a unique approach to the boat’s preservation. The port side will be conserved to 1925 to resemble the boat during the “Dorotich years” while the starboard side will be restored to about 1980, resembling the “Janovich years.” The deckhouse will be restored to its 1949 reconstruction date.

“After much consideration, this approach best matches our desire to tell the boat’s entire story,” says Lile. “And part of that story is who ran it when, but also the process of its conservation and restoration.”

The Shenandoah is a Gig Harbor boat through and through. Built in 1925 for Pasco Dorotich, his son John, and new son-in-law Nick Bez, the boat was first used as a tender in Alaska. After about 1930, she was rigged for purse seining, and fished the salmon banks south of San Juan island. Tony Janovich bought the boat after John Dorotich’s death in 1966, and he and his family fished her until 1998. A few other locals skippered the Shenandoah in the 1970s, such as Martin Skrivanich and Jake Bujacich. The boat was donated to the Museum in 2000, hauled out of the water in 2003 and paraded through town. She was then documented by the National Park Service, added to the national Historic Architectural and Engineering Record maintained by the Library of Congress, and added to the City of Gig Harbor’s Historic Register.

Restoration work has continued on the boat under three shipwrights: first Michael Vlahovich, then Nate Slater, and most recently under the direction of Riley Hall. Hall grew up in Gig Harbor, building boats from a very young age, but left to pursue his career in boat restoration at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island. He returned to Gig Harbor specifically to bring his vision and skill to the Shenandoah effort, now nicknamed Project 224606 for her vessel registration number.

The project is part of the Museum’s $2 million capital project to enclose the Maritime Gallery where the Shenandoah will take center stage amidst new, engaging exhibits that interpret Gig Harbor’s maritime past. “We like to say the Shenandoah is one boat with three lives,” says Lile. “She was a tender first, then a seiner, and now a teacher because the boat won’t return to the water, but rather stay in the gallery for all to learn from.”

Iconic of the region’s fishing and boat building heritage, the Shenandoah is also a Heritage Capital Project funded by the state. The goal is to complete the entire Maritime Gallery project by early 2025 in time for the Shenandoah’s 100th birthday. To date, more than $400,000 has been raised by individual donors from the community. These funds will be used for matching funds for state and federal grants. The Museum still needs to raise at least $1 million to achieve their fund-raising goal.

Save America’s Treasures is a competitive grant program offered in partnership between the Institute of Library and Museum Services, the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Keywords: restoration, conservation, fishing boat, wooden boat, historical boat, Gig Harbor, Shenandoah

Posted: November 3, 2020
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