The Fogarty Boat Works
The Fogarty family founded the Fogarty Shipyards on the Manatee River in the 1860s. Captain Bartholomew ("Bat") Fogarty started building boats at 19 years old and built them until his death in 1944. This building housed Capt. "Bat’s" last boat works, originally on the banks of the Manatee River. The boat works closed when he died.
When "Bat" Fogarty’s grandson, Charles, died in 1993, the Fogarty family donated the boat works to the South Florida Museum (now The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature). Inside was a time capsule: Wood patterns, molds, tools, and machinery were all left where Capt. "Bat" last placed them.
The South Florida Museum worked with the Manatee County Historical Commission, the Florida Historical Society, and the Fogarty family to preserve the boat works. The South Florida Museum created a display for part of the collection. The building and the rest of the tools were then moved to Manatee Village Historical Park, restored and opened to the public in 1995.
Tole Fogarty’s son Bartholomew, or “Bat," built his first boat at 19 years old. For the next 60 years, Captain "Bat" constructed hundreds of sailing ships, powered vessels, and skiffs the way his father and uncles had taught him. Vessels built by the Fogartys were used for fishing, passenger and cargo service, and recreation. Over time, the need for sailing vessels decreased as steam powered ships became easier to build and more common. Eventually, the Fogarty shipyards closed, but Capt. "Bat" labored on as a boat-wright on a smaller scale.
Image: Manatee Village Historical Park Collection.
Originally, the "Bat" Fogarty Boat Works sat on the river bank, with the double doors facing the water. Here, despite failing eyesight in his later years, Capt. "Bat" continued building small boats popular with local fisherman. His last large boat was started in 1930 but not completed until 1935. By then, he had to feel the wood to determine if contours were correct. Capt. "Bat" Fogarty died on July 28, 1944 at which time his family sealed the boat works until 1993 when they donated it to the South Florida Museum (now the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature).