In 1878 John Brown Herreshoff, a blind boatbuilder from Bristol, Rhode Island, who had been in business since 1863, went into partnership with his younger brother, Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, a naval architect and steam engineer. The name of their new firm was the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. The partnership was an immediate and lasting success. The same love of competition and technological innovation that had made J. B. and Nat almost unbeatable when as boys they raced sailboats together on Narragansett Bay brought them fame as builders of some of the world's fastest steam yachts and torpedo boats.
From the first, the Herreshoff Mfg. Co. was noted for the ingenuity and excellence of its designs, its construction methods, its manufacturing and business efficiency, and for its uncanny ability to create fast and stylish boats. Although the Herreshoff brothers never lost their love or mastery of steam engineering, it was as producers of outstanding racing and cruising sailboats up to 162 feet in overall length that the Company earned its most enduring fame.
Between 1893 and 1914, for the defense of the America's Cup, Captain Nat designed and built seven of the largest, most complex and powerful racing sloops the world has ever known. Of these, five were selected to sail as defenders, and all five were victorious. The firm also launched many hundreds of custom designs, both large and small, and a number of one-design classes (among them Herreshoff J12'1/2- and 15-Footers, S boats, and New York 30's, 40's, and 50's) that have never been bettered for all-around sailing excitement and pleasure.