A Seattle Maritime Pillar
The rough circumference of Seattle's Lake Union is six miles. Thanks to the Burke Gillman trail and other progressive civic projects, you can amble around the lake through the city and neighborhoods almost the entire way on a pedestrian pathway. While out for a stroll you'll see plenty of house boats and pleasure crafts, while sea planes come and go with the frequency of a city bus. You'll cross over two bridges and under two as well. And out of the many businesses and operations you'll pass and witness on the short journey, one of these will almost certainly be overlooked and ignored.
From the street, Vic Franck's Boat Company weathered single story wood facade looks like a building you might enter at your own risk. Surrounded by new construction and office parks, its vintage appearance is that much more emphasized. This 4th generation boat manufacturer is a treasure to the area and a bridge to nostalgic places where quality was the ground on which a company stood or in this case, floated. The humble first impressions don't last much past the entrance. Somehow through camouflage and broken laws of physics, the view upon entering is of a giant open air dry dock with a multitude of workshops and storerooms. The same effect would be felt if you walked into a minimart only to discover it was the secret entrance to a Costco warehouse. To give perspective, a 34' cabin cruiser (in the midst of being restored) sits in the middle of the space in such a way a bicycle might impact the storage of a personal car garage. Many of the "small" rooms have the space and equipment to be businesses unto themselves.
If it were possible to turn a functioning business into a tourist attraction, this would be the place to try it. A piece of Seattle's history and a current reminder that not everything is mass produced overseas using sub standard labor practices. This gem of Seattle's waterfront will hopefully stay embedded on the lake avoiding developers offers, and with it the risk of losing a place where past and present live as one.
A photo story of Vic Franck's boat builing company.