Sale of Southworth Photographs
A New Collection of these wonderful Gertrude Southworth historic photographs

August 7 - September 18, 2010 / Curated by Rick Chapman

 hills with title

Gertrude Southworth would be delighted to know that her work has been rediscovered in the 21st Century.  From the 1890s through the 1930s,  she used
her Kodak camera and artistic eye  to capture events in Bolinas, from beach picnics to shipwrecks.  Today her images are both fine photography and invaluable windows onto history.

This is our second collection of Southworth images offered for sale in large format limited edition prints. The size, averaging 22" x 13", and clarity of these archival laser prints reveal a treasure trove of fascinating details.

 people 1800s picnic 

Lunch at the Beach

circa 1900

Rich in detail, this photograph is like time travel into a glimpse

of an ordinary moment from the past.  Gertrude’s husband Dr. Southworth  reclines in the foreground.  The Southworth friends and family often gathered on Brighton Beach, which was a short stroll from their Bolinas home on Terrace Avenue.


 bay and ridge

 Bolinas Bay and Bolinas Ridge

Circa 1910 ?

A dramatic view of Bolinas Bay and Willow Camp (Stinson Beach). The photo is taken from above Brighton Beach. In the foreground are cypress trees planted by Nellie Waterhouse and the roof of her daughter Marin’s teahouse built in 1908. On the sandspit, Dipsea Inn can be seen. It was built when the hope for a train bringing visitors to the area seemed possible. The inn opened in 1904, and the still-famous Dipsea race was organized to end at the inn. It was torn down in 1918.  The photograph is a fine example of Gertrude Southworth’s eye for composition.



Wreck of the R.D. Inman


In 1909 the two-masted, steam propelled ship R.D. Inman had just come through the Golden gate and was headed for Portland, Oregon in darkness and rain squalls, when the captain and crew spotted a vessel on fire and turned inland to give assistance. Too late, they realized it was a big bonfire on the Bolinas beach.  The Inman was inside Duxbury Reef, it struck once, bounced off then struck again and was lodged on the rocks.

The R.D. Inman, 186 feet long, had just been built two years before in Marshfield, Oregon. The owner’s collected the $100,000 insurance on it, salvaged machinery and deck fittings, but it was a total loss. Many Bolinas folks, including Gertrude Southworth, went out to visit the wreck. Locals set up a salvage operation in a temporary structure on the beach and took away what they could before it was abandoned to the sea. Duxbury Reef, the largest shale reef in North America, off Bolinas headland, has caused the demise of many ships. The remains of the R.D. Inman was still on the inside of the reef when, in 1914, the four-masted ship Polaris wrecked on the ocean side of the reef.


 woman in bosun's chair

 Swinging off the Inman


While workers were salvaging what they could, many visitors came out to visit the wreck of the R.D. Inman on Duxbury Reef.  Intrepid Gertrude and this young woman sat in the Bosun’s chair to be lifted up to the deck and lowered back down to the reef.


 avenue in town

Brighton Avenue

Can you help us determine the date of this photo?

Brighton Avenue was created after entrepreneur Frank Waterhouse and his artist wife Nellie came to visit her parents who were staying in one of the hotels at the edge of the lagoon.  They decided they wanted to build a home in Bolinas but ranches carpeted the area and there was no available flat land near town. So they bought Jose Jesus Briones dairy ranch. Jose’s home and dairy barn are still on Terrace Avenue, up the road that takes off to the right. Waterhouse had Brighton Avenue created and designed the subdivision “Grand Vista”, the first housing development in Marin County.  Many of the first homes were built by families of the summer colony. By the time of this photo Brighton Avenue is well established. William Pepper and sons and Louis Petar, captain of the schooner Owl, constructed most of the homes.  Petar built the big house, on the left in the distance, for his own family.  Across the street is a forest of cypress trees planted by Nelllie Waterhouse. On the right you can see the cypress hedge Nelllie planted. (The last tree still stands in front of Seashore Realty.) The buildings inside the hedge are part of a newer dairy that Petar’s ran for several years.  Artist Jack Wisby’s house is visible on Little Mesa, upper left.  In the lower left corner is the Blacksmith/garage/home built by Oliver Longely in 1909. The church was built across from the school on Gospel Flat and moved to this location by Wm Pepper and team, in 1898.  Do you see the man on the ladder?





 U.S. Coast Guard Station, Bolinas

Circa 1916

Bolinas commerce was dependent on busy schooner traffic commuting between Bolinas and San Francisco markets for more then 80 years. There were also ships moving up and down the coast where fog, storms and Duxbury Reef  caused many ships to wreck.  Bolinas briefly had a Life Saving station until it burned in 1883. It was not replaced until the terrible wreck of the Hanalie at Bolinas in 1914 made it clear that trained men needed to be stationed here.  In 1917 the new Coast Guard Station opened. Today, this building on Wharf Road is one of the last examples of the architectural transition from U.S. Lifesaving Stations to U.S. Coast Guard Station. The Coast Guard were a vital presence in Bolinas until the late 1940s . They performed regular maneuver practices and taught  kids to swim on their time off. Their numbers swelled during World War II. Times changed and the lagoon silted in, eventually the Coast Guard left.  The buildings had another life as the popular Marine Biology Lab of the College of Marin. Today many people are working to try to preserve this historic building.

In this photo the stairway has been started that eventually climbed to the top of Little Mesa and the Coast Guard lookout tower on the cliff overlooking the bay.


 1800 people on rock 

Viewing the Wreck


A photo rich in detail, we see the Southworth family and friends who scrambled down rough paths and the reef, to view the wreck of the four-masted  ship Polaris that wrecked on Duxbury Reef in gale force winds in 1914.



Gertrude Southworth and family at the Clam Patch

Circa 1890

Generations of locals and visitors enjoyed collecting clams during low tide at the Bolinas “clam patch”.  This is one of the few photographs where someone has used Gertrude’s camera to include her in a photograph.


 photos in gallery