Blanchard Boat Company
In 1905, Norman J. (N.J.) Blanchard (1885-1954) teamed up with his friends, Dean and Lloyd Johnson, to open Johnson Bros. & Blanchard boatyard at the former oxbow of the Duwamish River, near what is now South Hidalgo Street. It was from this yard that the 100-foot motor yacht Helori was launched in 1911 for O.O. Denny. Designed by N.J.'s friend, L.E. (Ted) Geary, it was at that time the largest motor yacht built on the west coast. In 1915, after underbidding a job, the yard went broke and closed.
N.J. eventually went to work at the large Skinner & Eddy yard, and after saving enough money, he opened the N.J. Blanchard Boat Company on Lake Union, at the foot of Wallingford Avenue North. It was at that location that the 63-foot schooner, Red Jacket, also designed by Geary, and still a popular feature at many classic yacht gatherings, was built.
Following a fire in 1922 that destroyed the Blanchard yard, N.J. rebuilt at 3201 Fairview Avenue East. It was at this location that many of the production sailboats, including Star Boats, Flatties (also known as Geary 18s), and the still-popular Junior and Senior Knockabouts were built, as well as numerous one-off designs. Production motor yachts built include the 36-foot standardized raised deck cruisers, several of which are still beautifully maintained, and custom yachts, such as the Geary-designed, 100-foot Malibu of 1926.
Following N.J.'s death in 1954, his son Norman C. Blanchard (b. 1911), who had worked alongside his father most of his life, succeeded as head of the yard. The shift in pleasure craft by this time, however, was toward fiberglass, and much of the work done at the yard in the 1960s was repair work. After over 60 years of operation, in 1969, Norm Blanchard sold the yard. The final tally totals almost 2,000 boats constructed, including sail and power, commercial and pleasure. That many of these boats are still in use by proud owners is testament to the excellent workmanship of the Blanchard Boat Company.