3rd Sale of Southworth Prints
Historic Photos by Gertrude Southworth

August 6 - September 17, 2011 / Curated by Lucy Van Sands Seeburg

hills with title

Gertrude Southworth (1862-1946) 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 remarkable images are both fine photography and invaluable windows onto history.  This is our third 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 details.



1914 auto coming up hill

 Motoring up from Gospel Flat

In 1911, the horse and wagon stage that had run between San Rafael and Bolinas since the mid-1800s was replaced by a motorized stage. In this photo the Stanley Steamer Bolinas Stage is climbing Finney’s Hill toward town. Behind is Gospel Flat, so named for the three churches that were built near the school in 1877.  Two of the churches were moved into town in the 1890s, but you can see the Catholic Church on the hill in the background. On the left is one of Juana Briones’ structures, then the big Druid’s Hall built in 1879.  Beyond is the Bolinas school. Across from the school is the Pepper home. William Pepper and sons built many downtown houses and moved the Presbyterian Church into town in 1895.  On the near right, is the Francisco farm house.  Unseen behind the house and the hill stands the Francisco dairy barn that today is known as the Buell’s Peace Barn.


schooner full of people

 The Owl Leaving Bolinas on the 4th of July

Circa 1913


The Owl was the last of the schooners that commuted between Bolinas and San Francisco for more then 80 years.  Like the other schooners, she was never licensed to carry passengers, but they often did.  This photo was taken of the Owl as she set off for San Francisco carrying holiday revelers after a 4th of July celebration. Many families who had weekend homes regularly rode the Owl to Bolinas, some would stay for the summer while the husband commuted back and forth.

The Owl is somewhat legendary for those that know about her.  She was built in Oregon for Dr. Richard Gibson who grew up in Bolinas in the Gibson house that his father built in 1870, along with the mercantile store. Dr. Dick, as the locals fondly called him, spent much of his career as a doctor for the Dollar shipping line. He was known to be such an expert pilot that captains often turned over their ships to him when entering a port. In 1911 Gibson brought the Owl to Bolinas with much local fanfare.  Within a few years he sold the Owl to Louis Petar and brother Joseph Petar who ran the general market.  Captain Louis Petar and Chief engineer Arthur Bourne, both sons of Bolinas pioneer families, ran the schooner until roads and trucks took too much of their business and the Owl was sold in 1933. 

The Owl facilitated the dairy and food production economy of Bolinas carrying, butter, cheese, hogs, produce, duck eggs and more to the markets of San Francisco, returning with mail and supplies. She also served the community of people on the Farallone Islands and the light keeper of the Point Reyes Lighthouse.  She towed some of the houseboats that line Wharf Road in Bolinas, out the Golden Gate from San Francisco Bay and through the channel into Bolinas Lagoon.

schooner docked by beach

The Owl Docked at the End of Wharf Road

circa 1925

For decades, schooners, barges, lighters and other craft entered the Bolinas Lagoon and docked along Wharf Road.  At that time the road ended by today’s Bolinas Rod and Boat Club and a rough trail ran along the steep hillside to the mouth of the lagoon. 

Since the beginning of the logging in the 1850s, local boat builders and captains  had noted the rapid sedimentation of the Lagoon. (Actually an estuary.)  When the channel became too narrow for boats to turn around, the town took action. Extending the road required removing a part of the hillside and grading a road. At first there was just a rough dock at the end, eventually there were three warehouses, a long dock and a place for wagons to deposit goods.


turn in road/houses

Turn on Wharf Road

circa 1920


Wharf Road was the center of activity for the whole area since business revolved around the schooners and boats, sometimes 15 a day, commuting between Bolinas and the markets of San Francisco.  In 1851, before there was a town, the house on the left was built by Captain Isaac Morgan for his bartender when he built the Schooner Saloon.  Captain Morgan was a dynamic leader in the development of early Bolinas and a good businessman. He knew the loggers and boat crews would flock to his saloon.  His bartender, Nils Odin, came from Sweden with his wife and lived in the house for more than 40 years. When he was old, his niece Alma Clausen was sent from Sweden to help him.  Alma married a Bolinas boy, Louis Petar, who was captain of the schooner, Owl. Their descendents are now the 6th generation of the family coming to Bolinas.

In the foreground we see one of the warehouses, built about 1875, that sat between the two large lagoon-side hotels that were toppled into the lagoon during the 1906 earthquake.

The houseboat, raised on piers, is still known as “The Ark.”  It was towed here from San Francisco Bay about 1914.  In 1862 John Gifford had built a hotel on this spot that eventually became the Flagstaff Inn. It had a saloon, a reading room, dance room, a wharf on the  lagoon side for the visitors to disembark from schooners and a livery stable.  John Parkin owned the Flagstaff Inn when it was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. It was a total loss but he still owned the land, so he bought the Ark and tied it up to the shore.  Eventually he raised it on piers. The Ark was owned by the Parkin family until 1972.




Child with Giant Mushrooms
circa 1900

We don’t know anything about this photo except that it is delightful.

people reflected on beach

Brighton Beach (Bolinas Beach)c.
circa 1900
24” x 12” 
Edition of 40
2nd Edition, large format limited edition print available to order for $400.00

On the beach circa 1900, townsfolk heard that the Runckle’s boat had turned over in the surf. A drama with people from the  close knit community turning out to help. With her poetic eye, Gertrude Southworth captured this moment as people wait on a low-tide afternoon as the boat is bringing brought to shore, later to be pulled onto the beach by teams of horses. The Runckle’s ranch was in the canyon south of today’s Audubon Canyon Ranch.