Gertrude Southworth
U.S. Coast Guard Station, Bolinas
10" wide

8” x 10”


Large format limited edition print available for $250.

Circa 1916, C-Print
26-5/8” x 15-1/4”
Edition of 10

Bolinas commerce was dependent on busy schooner traffic commuting between Bolinas and San Francisco markets for more than 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 Lifesaving 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 was 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.

From the late 1880s through the 1930s, Gertrude Southworth used her Kodak camera to capture images of the events and details of life that today present us with an invaluable window onto Bolinas history. She had a gifted eye for composition, light and shadow, and what brought out the magic in a photograph.

Little is known about the early life of Gertrude Rice-Coles Southworth except that she immigrated to the United states in the 1800s and was trained as a home nurse. She came to Bolinas with Dr. and Mrs. Southworth, serving as an assistant and nurse. Dr. Southworth was a dentist who was well liked in the community. Two years after Dr. Southworth’s wife died, he and Gertrude entered into a marriage that lasted 32 years. Gertrude died in 1946 at the age of 84. People remembered her fondly as a neighbor who reached out to everyone.

In the late 1990s Amy Edwards Jordan, a lively sharp minded woman in her nineties, came across a box of more then 500 Southworth negatives that had been preserved by her brother Parker Edwards. Amy and Parker had spent a lifetime coming to Bolinas for summers and weekends, and knew the Southworth family. Amy Edwards gifted the negatives to the Museum to be preserved for the community. Her images capture the changing times: the dress and styles, horse drawn carriages changing to car travel.

Small format, $20

Large format, $250