Vestige of Marblehead
August 30, 2021
Vestige Of Marblehead’s Maritime Heyday – 80+ years Later
North of Boston lies a historic village with old crooked streets - Birthplace of the American Navy, a village that once titled “Yachting Capital of the World”. With a natural deep-water harbor, and more grand yacht clubs than anywhere on the planet, Marblehead earned its reputation. Home to all things nautical from yacht designers and builders to world famous skippers – it all happened in this curious coastal town 14 miles north of Boston.
At the turn of the century Americans flocked to this rustic outcropping to enjoy summer on the water. Fred L. Woods Jr. was the son of a prominent Boston yachtsman and the Woods Family would make the annual pilgrimage to enjoy a summer of sailing. As a child, Fred sailed at the Pleon Junior Yacht Club, later he enrolled at Tabor Academy, and then the U.S. Naval becoming Lt. Commander.
One summer on a return to his beloved Marblehead, Fred met his bride – a native Marbleheader and renaissance woman – Nathalie Frost Hawks (Woods), he set up shop here --for the rest of his life. establishment is among the one-of-kind historic treasures that help Marblehead remain The Shop - F.L.WOODS Nautical Instruments & Supplies
In 1938 Fred founded F.L.WOODS Jr. Nautical Instruments & Supplies and in ‘39 was awarded the first U.S. Government Chart Agency. Fred soon became known as “the source” for mariners-- F.L.WOODS was on its way to becoming the yachting epicenter in the heyday of Marblehead’s seafaring past. With Fred’s early passing Nathalie found the shop in her hands. She went on to become the first female U.S. Government Chart Agent. For dozens of years to come, Nathalie marched down Washington St. with accuracy to set your watch by -- in her hat, skirt, pumps and canvas bag.
Celebrating 80+ Years
More than 80 years later, F.L. Woods, in its original federal building, is as relevant and vibrant as ever under the careful stewardship of Fred & Nathalie’s neighbor - W. B. George. With equal parts historical reverence and modern style savvy, George has brought F.L. Woods into the 21st-century while retaining the shops vintage “salt-water-in-its-veins” flavor. Customers still buy charts, cannons, and all manner of nautical burgee -- but what’s more, George designs and manufacturers a line of clothing and goods that carry the establishments trade-mark Buoy Logo. A cornerstone of this handcrafted line is a collection of products in a once-famous yacht paint color -- called Marblehead Green. This greenish grey color once adorned the bottom of yachts, now re-lives its glory in a line of pants, shorts and other goods.