Gertrude Southworth
Waterhouse Studio,
10" wide

8” x 10”


Large format limited edition print available for $250.

c. 1900, C-print
27-5/8” x 13-1/4”
Edition of 10

This photograph depicts Nellie Waterhouse’s studio and the Coast Guard Station on Wharf Road. Wharf Road was the center of activity that stimulated the growth of the town of Bolinas. Right here, at the edge of Bolinas Lagoon, schooners, as many as 15 a day, loaded lumber and farm products or unloaded mail, supplies, equipment and passengers from San Francisco.

This was the engine of commerce for Coastal Marin. In the 1860s, large hotels were built at the water’s edge to accommodate the flow of visitors. The hotels and many buildings on the road were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.

The two buildings in this photo played key roles in Bolinas history. Their stories are told in the Museum’s book Wharf Road: A Self Guided Stroll Through Early Bolinas. Frank and Nellie Waterhouse who built the “studio” are credited with turning Bolinas from a settlement into a community. The studio still stands beside the lagoon, today as a weekend retreat.

The building on the right is the United States Coast Guard Station built after the terrible Hanalei shipwreck in 1914. The Coast Guard was a vital presence in Bolinas until 1955. During World War II the Pepper family turned the Waterhouse Studio into a recreation center for the Coast Guard men and their families.

By the time of this photo Wharf Road had been extended. The road originally came to a dead end at the Waterhouse studio. But silt built up in the Lagoon’s channel and schooners were no longer able to turn around so the road was extended to the mouth of the lagoon where a new dock and warehouses were built.

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