Gardner, William (1859-1934) USA


GardnerWVWilliam Gardner, one of the world’s foremost naval architects, is born in Oswego, N.Y., son of the late William Gardner and Frances C. Gardner. He entered Cornell University when he was only 15 years old and was graduated in 1880.
He worked for a time in the Delaware River Iron Ship Building Company, studying all angles of ship construction in the mold loft, in the foundry, in the yard and at fitting, then sailed for the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England.

GW KathleenHe passed his Summer vacations in shipyards along the Clyde and the Tyne and met the leading yacht designers of England and eagerly absorbed knowledge of their craft. When he finished at the Royal Naval College he passed two years working in the boat builder’s yards on the Clyde.

His Boats Graceful and Speedy.

Mr. Gardner returned to the United States in 1888 and immediately established his own office at 1 Broadway. His first orders were for 40-foot cutters and he turned out two graceful speedy jobs – the Kathleen and the Liris – both of which ran up long strings of victories.

In swift sucession, then, he designed the 90-foot Alcea, which won a number of races here before it was sold to Germany and renamed the Nord Quest; the Norota, the Syce and a number of other craft, all remarkable for their gracefulness and speed. In 1898 he designed the Cartoon, a “freak ship” with round bilge scow, narrow bronze fin and dagger rudder that swept everything before it. It was wrecked in a storm at City Island in 1901.GW-Cartoon1

In 1902 Mr. Gardner designed the Weetamoe for Senator Henry F. Lippitt of Rhode Island and the Meola for G.W. Pynchon of New York. They were sister ships, bronze cutters with an overall length of 85 feet, carrying 5,000 yards of sail. Both had interesting histories, known to all yachting enthusiasts. The Weetamoe was one of three Astor Cup winners designed by Mr. Gardner. The others were the Aspirant and the Constance.

The Atlantic, a three-masted auxiliary , was designed in 1903 for Winston Marshall. She was one of the most beautiful craft afloat and after thirty-one years is still an awe-inspiring spectacle. She won the Cape May Challenge Cup in 1904 and took the Bretton Reef Cup the same year. She took the Cape May Cup for the second time in 1911. The Atlantic’s voyage across the ocean from Sandy Hook to the Needles in twelve days and two hours in May, 1905 made yachting history. GW-Atlantic2The record stood for 75 years until broken by Eric Tabarly sailing the trimaran Paul Ricard. Mr. marshall and his crew were guests of Kaiser wilhelm when they reached Germany and later were entertained by Sir Thomas Lipton in London.

Built the Vanitie in 1914

Another Gardner masterpiece was the Vanitie, built for Alexander Smith Cochrane in 1914 to compete in the trials to represent the United States against the Sir Thomas Lipton entry for the Americas Cup. The honor, however, went to the Resolute, which won the international rate. Later, in other events, the Vanitie scored several victories over the Resolute.

Mr. Gardner designed the Star Class, the Victory Class and the Bird Class, the Larchmont O and built a number of racing craft of various sizes which won prizes here and abroad. He also designed commercial craftGW-Cartoon1 – the Lackawanna Railroad ferryboats, freighters, submarine chasers and flying-boat hulls for the government during the World War and a number of steam yachts, up to 250 feet in length.

Failing sight compelled him to retire in 1925. The firm of William Gardner & Co. continues under that name, though it is headed by Philip Leventhal, who went to work for Mr. Gardner in 1892.

Bay Head, N.J., May 7, 1934. - William Gardner, one of the world’s foremost naval architects, designer of the famous Kaiser’s Cup winner, Atlantic, died this morning in his home, 89 Osbourne Avenue, after two years of illness. He would have been 75 years old on Thursday. Mr. Gardner leaves his widow, Mrs. Julia Palmer Gardener; three sons, Professor William H. G. Gardner of New York, Walter B. P. Gardner of Park Ridge, N.J., and L. Robinson Gardner of Bay Head, N.J., and a grandson Merritt Post Gardner.

The conclusion is Mr Francis Sweisguth, who worked in close associaton with Mr Gardner for many years and is the author of a biography published by Jim Bolland :

The idealism that urges both musician and artist onward, was felt by Gardner and no design was ever finished until it was as perfect as he could make it. His contention was that a vessel, when made as scientifically perfect as possible, could not be other than beautiful.
To him the sailing yacht was man’s most beautiful creation and the designing of it the finest of arts.

GW-Liris GW-Norota GW-Syce2 GW-Weetamoe GW-Aspirant GW-Medora