Classic Boat Builders: Stephens Bros. Boat Builders


The following is excerpted from the Stephens Brothers Boat Builders article on Wikipedia:

Stephens Brothers Boat Builders and Designers began in the back yard of brothers Theodore (Thod, 1882–1933) and Robert (Roy, 1884–1953) Stephens. Their boatbuilding firm in Stockton, California operated from 1902 to 1987. Over the years the company became famous for its elegantly designed pleasure craft, including sailboats, speedboats, cruisers and private yachts. Stephens Bros. also built many vessels for the U.S. military, especially during World War II.

Stephens Classic Motoryachts

The company was economically successful even during the Great Depression. East coast buyers were taking an interest in Stephens Bros'. new gasoline powered semi-stock cruisers that were smaller and more affordable than the previously built steam yachts.

Thod Stephens died in 1933, and Roy Stephens retired at the end of World War II. He turned the company over to his nephews, Theo, Barre and Dick Stephens. Stephens Bros. continued making semi-stock cruisers with their generic outside hulls and custom designed interiors. In the wake of the postwar economic boom, orders for more custom yachts increased. One of their more spectacular specimens was the Westlake. Built in 1952, this 85-foot (26 m) motor yacht was outfitted with a television in her main cabin.

By the mid 1950's, Stephens Brothers had made such a name for themselves through build quality and level of craftsmanship that their yachts were reserved for wealthy clientele.
In 1960, the brothers sold the company to the Wrather Corporation, headed by entertainment industry mogul and Stephens Bros. boat collector, Jack Wrather, and the company name was changed to Stephens Marine, Inc. However, this short-lived transaction proved to be a poor financial investment so the brothers bought the company back just three years later. Through the mid 1960s, the company continued to gain popularity, with more orders flowing in from the east coast. The most impressive of these was an 85-foot (26 m) yacht, Miss Budweiser, which was completed in 1962 for Anheuser-Busch in New York.

Stephens Bros. boats today

Today, Stephens Bros. boats are highly prized as collectors’ items. Stephens Bros. boat owners meet every year at the Stephens Rendezvous, organized by the Northern California Fleet of the Classic Yacht Association, to show off these beautiful vessels.

A collection of Stephens Bros. documents, photographs and original drawings are available to the public in the archives of The Haggin Museum in the brothers’ hometown of Stockton, California. The museum displays a fully restored 1927 26-foot runabout to commemorate the company and its legacy.