Fogarty Boat Works
In 1865, a storm blew the fishing vessel Grover
G. King off its northbound course from Key West.
Captain John Fogarty sailed into the mouth of the
Manatee River for protection. When the storm lifted,
Fogarty liked what he saw.
The wide river, natural harbor, abundant wildlife,
large schools of fish, and woods thick with oak
and cedar convinced him this was the place to
live and launch his business.
A year later, John and his brothers, William and
Bartholomew (also known as “Tole”), moved from
Key West to settle in Manatee County.
That marked the start of the booming boat-building industry in Manatee County.
The Fogartys claimed land grants totaling 135 acres between what is today Manatee Avenue and the Manatee River, between 26th and 37th streets west. The area became known as Fogartyville and was a prosperous community.
At the age of 19, Tole’s son, also named Bartholomew and later as Captain Bat, built his first ship. For the next 60 years, Capt. Bat constructed hundreds of sailing ships, power vessels, small boats and skiffs the way his father and uncles taught him. When Capt. Bat died in 1944, his family closed his boat yard. In 1993, the family willed the boat yard to the public.
Restorers opened the building you see today to find its contents preserved as if in a time capsule: half-hull models, wooden patterns and molds, tools, equipment and belt-driven machinery, just as Capt. Bat had left them. Enter Capt. Bat’s Boat Works and see how it used to be.
Captain Bat Fogarty Boat Works shop built ca. 1940s