May 4, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: May 4

Three distinct eras in the history of HMCo.: Herreshoff and Stone advertisements in the Bristol Phoenix, news of 1,720 tubes in Torpedo Boat #6, and a new skipper for the groundbreaking yacht GLORIANA

May 5, 1866

The site of Herreshoff and Stone – the Old Tannery and Herreshoff Homestead in the fall of 1866

Before there was HMCo., there was Herreshoff and Stone, as frequently advertised in the Bristol Phoenix between 1864 and 1877. John Brown Herreshoff and Dexter S. Stone began their business partnership 1864. Stone was a yachtsmen, Boston Yacht Club member, Providence resident, and Brown University alum who had previously cruised with the Herreshoff brothers. The partnership only lasted until 1867 but in those three years the firm built a number of catboats and fishing boats. They frequently advertised goods from their steam driven mill in the Bristol Phoenix, with notices for pickets bar posts, slabs for sale. Occasionally we get news from the shop in addition to the ads, as is the case with this short piece noting the outcome of a tragic shop accident in the same issue. The back of this photo (right) from the HMM archive bears the following caption in NGH’s handwriting, dated 1934:

“This photo was taken in the late fall of 1866 and shows the waterfront property owned by my father, Charles F. Herreshoff. The Old Tannery is, at this time, occupied by his son John B. Herreshoff and his partner [Dexter Stone] , and is used for the building of yachts and fishing craft. The 33-foot-waterline yacht CLYTIE is about ready for launching; that will make room for building the schooner SADIE, 47 feet waterline. On the wharf, in the foreground, is my father, next to the left is my brother John with his partner at the time, Dexter S. Stone; more to the left is my older brother James. On the shore at the extreme right is my youngest brother, Julian, who is eleven years old, with three toy boats. Hauled out on the bank next to the shed is my father’s catboat JULIA III; next south is the 39-foot-waterline yacht QUI VIVE, owned by Thomas Clapham; then comes the catboat FANNIE I, which was built by John for Captain Benjamin Gibbs. Beyond FANNIE are several purse and seine boats of the menhaden fishery. Under CLYTIE‘s stern are shop foreman Edward Thompson (left) and William Thatcher. In the back center is the old Burnside Rifle Factory (with an office in the northwest corner), at this time occupied by John and his parter for their steam sawmill on the ground floor and on the second floor for building small boats.”


May 5, 1896

Thirty years later to the day, and a lot has changed on the waterfront at Hope and Burnside streets. J.B.H. is longer peddling fence posts, Dexter Stone has moved on and the Herreshoff brothers have been in business together for eighteen years. The Bristol Phoenix reports that “Torpedo [Boat] No. 6 [PORTER, HMCo. #184] is nearly plated at the Herreshoff works, and the work of riveting on the plates is now going on. There are to be 1,720 tubes in the new type of boilers to be put in the new government boats.” HMCo. built seven torpedo boats between 1885 and 1898: STILETTO (HMCo. #118), CUSHING (HMCo. #152), PORTER (HMCo. #184), DUPONT (HMCo. #185), MORRIS (HMCo. #190), TALBOT (HMCo. #191) and GWIN (HMCo. #192).

PORTER, HMCo. #184; HMM historic photo collection

May 5, 1899

The Bristol Phoenix reports that “Captain Berry, who was mate on the cup winner Defender during the races in 1893 is here and is to be the skipper of the forty-six footer GLORIANA (HMCo. #411), now hauled out at the Herreshoff’s Walker’s Cove marine railway. The GLORIANA is to be put in commission as soon as possible…” GLORIANA represents another new era for the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, and their transition back towards building sailing yachts after primarily focusing on building fast steam powered vessels during their first decades in operation. Check out the higher resolution version of this amazing shot of GLORIANA from the Library of Congress / Detroit Publishing Company archive:

GLORIANA (HMCo. #411) photographed by John S. Johnston on August 7, 1891; image courtesy the Library of Congress digital collections