Hall Brothers Shipyard breaks ground in Madrone (renamed Winslow) on Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island on July 6, 1902.

  • By Jennifer Ott
  • Posted 9/10/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8276
On July 6, 1902, the Hall Brothers Shipyard breaks ground for its new location in Madrone (renamed Winslow) on Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island. Upon moving there in May 1903, the shipyard will become the town's first large-scale industry. At the turn of the century the Hall Brothers Marine Railway and Shipbuilding Company (its formal name) was outgrowing its site at Port Blakely, which had steep hills ending at the beach. Shipyard owner Henry Hall (his brothers Isaac and Winslow had died) looked to Eagle Harbor for more room and secured 77 acres in Madrone. The town's name becomes Winslow, in honor of Winslow Hall, either because, as historian Edmond Meany asserts, Henry Hall renamed the town, or because the town renamed itself to encourage the shipyard to relocate there.

Business Ups and Downs

Eagle Harbor offered more level ground and a gentler slope adjacent to the shore but the company still moved nearly 5,000 cubic yards of dirt and dredged the harbor. These adjustments to the landscape allowed them to build five-masted schooners at the site. The schooners had a unique design that allowed them to be loaded through the bow or stern and from the deck. The company also planned to use the enlarged yard to build steel-hulled ships but that would not happen until 1939, when the shipyard was under different ownership. 

The company's fortunes rose and fell in its new location. After a little over a decade in Winslow, Hall sold the business to D. W. Hartzell, who renamed it Winslow Marine Railway and Shipbuilding Company. Once the Great Depression of the 1930s hit, few jobs remained in the shipyard and in 1931 it suffered a fire. In 1934 the yard was improved and the company was able to survive the Depression. During World War II workers built minesweepers and repaired damaged ships for the military. Workers from Seattle and from the island were hired and the workforce increased to 2,300.  

In 1943 the company was sold again, and became Commercial Ship Repair of Winslow. After the war, with the loss of defense work, employment dropped off considerably, and the workforce fell to  50. In 1959 the yard closed and the property was split into a marina, a private development, and a Washington State Ferries maintenance facility.

Sources: Elsie Frankland Marriott, Bainbridge Through Bifocals (Seattle: Gateway Printing Company, 1941); Edmond S. Meany, Origin of Washington Geographic Names (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1923), 74-75; Elnora A. Parfitt, "Winslow and Environs," in Kitsap County Historical Society, Book IV Bainbridge Island of Kitsap County History (Seattle: Dinner & Klein, 1977), 42, 47-52; Jack Swanson, Picture Bainbridge: A Pictorial History of Bainbridge Island (Bainbridge Island: The Bainbridge Island Historical Society, 2002); Katy Warner, A History of Bainbridge Island (Bainbridge Island:  Bainbridge Island Public Schools, 1968);  "Century on the Harbor" Bainbridge Island Review, August 8, 1990, p. 19;  "Hall’s Modern Shipbuilding Plant at Eagle Harbor," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Magazine Section, May 24, 1903.

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