A New Home on a Historic Slice of Gig Harbor


Photos by Dane Gregory Meyer

A piece of land in Gig Harbor that boasts views of Vashon Island, the Narrows bridges and Mount Rainier has been in his family since 1975, and in the ’80s, Dave Morris’ parents built a home there. When Dave and his wife Mame decided to build their dream home on the same location, they demolished most of the former home and began building on top of the existing foundation.

“Being that the property has been in the family for so long, we felt it was only right to come full circle and move there ourselves,” Dave said.

The 3,800-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom home with a bonus craft room is nothing short of breathtaking. Architect Phil Kallsen of Vashon Island, contractor Wayne Parker of Parker Contracting of Kent and Stefanie Brooks of Stefanie Brooks Interior Design of Tacoma were the team that did the work. It took about 18 months.

The turret in the center of the main living space brings in light and adds to the nautical feel of the home, with a classy twist.

The turret in the center of the main living space brings in light and adds to the nautical feel of the home, with a classy twist.

“A lot of the features and finishes in the home have a sense of tradition, however with all of the hidden details and bright colors there’s a playful beach look and feel throughout” Brooks said.

“The turret in the center of the main living space, definitely gives the home a nautical, Nantucket feeling. The special touches are definitely in the details — the boat cleats used for cabinet hardware, the lantern style lighting over kitchen sink and the rope molding really give this kitchen a nautical feel without being too over-the-top with a specific theme.

“Mixing styles such as traditional and modern is generally known as ‘transitional.’ When blending the two worlds, it can be tastefully done by incorporating the proper balance of both styles.”

The family loves to use the large, open home to entertain. “Being very involved with the Gig Harbor community, Dave has hosted several nonprofit meetings, Rotary Club meetings, History Museum meetings as well as family and friend gatherings,” Mame said. The home can easily host 50-80 guests, especially when they utilize the outside decks.

Net Shed No. 16
The Gig Harbor waterfront used to be dotted with simple, yet sturdy net sheds where local fisherman would store their gear.Their nets would hang from the long, wooden beams inside.

As more people moved to the area, the net sheds began to vanish, making way for waterfront homes, businesses and of course, marinas. Today, only 17 net sheds are said to remain and one of them is owned by Dave and Mame Morris. It’s near their home and they recently refurbished it while maintaining its historic character and charm.

“The net shed itself is 1,400 square feet and the deck space spanning out over the water is 1,500 square feet,” Dave said. “We’ve added a bathroom, a small kitchenette area as well as hot and cold water. We enjoy using it to host small or large parties.”

Their shed is one of the area’s oldest, and it’s estimated that it was built between 1910 and 1920. It’s number 16 on the historic registry list of net sheds in Gig Harbor. Eight out of the 17 sheds in the area still are being used by Gig Harbor’s Commercial Fishing Fleet.

“Some of the original equipment, nets, etcetera that existed in the net shed still exist today, giving a sense of history to the newly updated structure,” Dave added.MameHs-07

The net sheds were listed on the 2008 Most Endangered Structure List by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Also in 2008, the city received a Washington State Historic Preservation Grant from the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The grant helped pay for a group to complete historical narratives of the properties, measured drawings and photographs that were sent to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to be included in the Prints and Photographs Divisions HAER Collection and on their Built in America website. The net sheds are documented alongside buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, historic windmills and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Peninsula Art League, a group of local artists, along with the city of Gig Harbor are working on a net shed art project. Artists will be painting, photographing and drawing the area’s net shed in an effort to preserve them for many years to come through art. A group of artists recently took a waterfront tour of the net sheds. The yearlong project is under way now and a reception to show their work is being planned for 2014.

The public can find a net shed map and take self-guided tours at cityofgigharbor.net. Most of the sheds are best seen by boat, as many of them are on private properties, like the Morris’ shed.

is the editor in chief at South Sound magazine.
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