The Skansie Net Shed stands as one of seventeen extant net sheds in Gig Harbor, an excellent example of vernacular architecture and a building type unique to small-scale commercial fishing during the 20th century. The building is listed to the NRHP at the local level of significance under Criteria A, B, and C. The property is significant for its association with maritime history and commerce, specifically its role in the development of the Gig Harbor waterfront and commercial fishing in Puget Sound. Furthermore, the building is significant for its association with the Skansie brothers, an important shipbuilding and commercial fishing family in Gig Harbor. The property also embodies the distinct characteristics of a small commercial fishing operation, retaining its upland residence to house the fisherman and their family, an overwater net shed for storage and maintenance of the fishing nets, a boat carriage for vessel repair, a net yard for net maintenance, deepwater moorage pilings for mooring fishing vessels, and a concrete bulkhead creating a clear definition between the shore and water.
The Skansie family, from the coast of Dalmatia in present-day Croatia, arrived in Washington Territory in 1889. Peter, the oldest son in the family, arrived first, and then sent for his three younger brothers – Mitchell, Andrew (the builder of the nominated net shed and house), and Joe. Andrew Skansie (ca. 1876-1950) was born in Su Martine, Yugoslavia, and enjoyed a career as a successful stonemason before immigrating to Washington. However, upon arriving in Gig Harbor, Andrew became a fisherman alongside his brother Peter. After establishing himself in Gig Harbor, Andrew sent for his wife, Bertha (Boravich) to join him in 1909. Andrew then constructed a one-story brick house for his family and a small wood-framed net shed for his business. Andrew and Bertha raised their five children in the house: Clemintina (Tina), Jeroma, Antone, Vincent, and Peter.
When Andrew retired in 1940, he passed the family business on to his three sons: Antone, Vincent, and Peter. The three brothers continued to operate the family business until their retirement in 1987. Their 66-foot purse seiner Avalon, constructed in 1912 by their uncle Mitchell Skansie, remained a fixture in the harbor from the time of its construction until its sale in 1990. Antone and Vincent lived in the family home until Antone’s death in 2001; Vincent then passed away in 2002. Following the deaths of his brothers, Peter, along with his son, Michael, worked with the City of Gig Harbor to turn their family property into a public park evocative of the community’s maritime heritage.
Share This Page
View of the Skansie property from the harbor Source: City of Gig Harbor
View of the net shed structure
View of the Skansie House, constructed by Andrew Skansie beginning in 1910
View of the wooden boat carriage which allowed the Skansie fishermen to bring in one of their vessels for necessary maintenance and repairs. The vessel would be brought in during high tide and secured to the carriage during low tide, allowing work to occur.