Located just over the bridge from the city of Vallejo, California, Mare Island was established in 1854 as the first naval shipyard on the West Coast. During World War II the base had a population of 46,000 and played a critical role in the military’s efforts.
It was at Mare Island on Dec. 7, 1941, that an urgent transmission came reporting the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor. And it was there that the guts of the atomic bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima were loaded aboard the cruiser Indianapolis.
The shipyard was closed in 1996 after producing 512 ships, including 17 nuclear submarines. After years of neglect, Mare Island is currently reinventing itself as a desirable place to visit, recreate, and live.
Lucky for me and others who lust-for-rust and pray-for-decay, much of the old shipyard and many of the buildings used by the military still stand. Although the brick warehouses are being renovated into breweries, brewpubs, distilleries, and office space, the beautiful old shells – and doors – remain… at least for now.
Thursday Doors is a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.
71 thoughts on “Thursday Doors: Mare Island”
Very interesting! I’m glad they are opening up again. It’s a shame to let buildings decay, I love it when they are made into something cool like a brewery. Thanks for sharing.
I hope they will be able to repurpose many of the buildings, but I’m sure some will be torn down. I’m glad we were able to get in there and take pictures before they are gone.
I’m glad the shipyard is still standing…so much history. Great photos!
I hadn’t realized what a large role that area played in the war. The old B&W pictures of the shipyard were so interesting.
So cool and so close yet I didn’t realize this. Guess I need to look around more. The kids filing in the shelters gave me pause considering the recent back and forth exchange with NK. Hate to think they would have to be used again for their original purpose! Thanks for sharing, Janis.
Fortunately, those shelters were never put to the test… and unfortunately, they probably wouldn’t provide adequate protection for today’s bombs. You should plan a trip over there sometime… bring bikes.
Very atmospheric, Janis. Love your watermark as well. 🙂
Watermarks add an additional step, but I like the look too.
These pieces of history just beg to be photographed. You did a brilliant job, Janis! Thanks so much for sharing this!
I love the history… and the rust. There was also a nice old cemetery on the island that begged to be photographed too!
Wonderful photos of an interesting place. Sobering to think of the history behind the shelters. The red doors stand out to me since they are my favorite but I also like the rustic look of the buildings.
It was impactful to see all the shelters lined up along the road – thank goodness they were never used for there intended purpose.
Thanks for this blast from the past, Janis. I visited Mare Island a few times in the late ‘60s when a dear friend was stationed there after his tour of duty in Vietnam. It was quite a bustling place, filled with Naval activity. I’d love to see it in transition today.
Oh, wow! That would have been so interesting. Maybe you can revisit it one of these days and raise a frosty mug to your dear friend.
I am jealous that you have this place to explore, but very happy that you brought us along. Thanks for snagging the cranes (I’m sure they have a door). There’s something about a place like this, when you can still imagine it humming with activity. Great photos!
You would love it, Dan! I just photographed two of several cranes 🙂 I don’t live in the area (I’m down south) but fortunately, my brother (an avid photographer) and sister-in-law knew that I’d enjoy it and took me there when we were visiting around Christmas.
Janis, you will find some very decorative doors in Spain, and, quite a few in need of paint and rust removal 🙂 Those bomb shelters in America are a surprise to me. By the way let me know if I can help with any road trip questions that come up.
For some reason, I gravitate towards rusty structures so I know I’d love the doors in Spain!
Fascinating to see. I’m kind of surprised they kept the cranes up; I would have thought it’d be a potential danger. Having said that, they add to the contrast. Great pics, Janis. Thanks for sharing. – Marty
The cranes were in an area that was fenced off, but I was surprised to have as much access to the area as we did. I feel pretty lucky too… I have a feeling it won’t be as open as it was for long. As soon as someone breaks a toenail, there will be a lawsuit.
I love pictures, and seeing, old places. I almost want to ask questions of the old rusty stairs. The things they saw, if only we could somehow, pull memories from inanimate objects.
I imagine the shipyard was pretty busy during the various wars (including the build-ups and draw-downs) and has many stories to tell. They had a museum that would have been interesting to visit, but it wasn’t open that day.
I do like an air of delapidation – and this has it in spades!
Rust, decay, and dilapidation are so interesting, right? I would have loved to have been able to get inside of the buildings, but the best I could do is shoot through an occasional broken window.
Here’s to taking repurposing to a higher level, and I’m sure those cranes had a door somewhere. 🙂
I love when businesses see the value of older buildings rather than tearing them down and starting over.
Your photography is stunning, Janis! The images of these doors are so unusual as well as the information about Mare Island. Great job on this!
I would have liked to spend more time there poking around. It would be a great place to ride around on bikes.
Fascinating post, Janis. I appreciate that you included the photo of the kids being escorted into the shelter. It adds another layer of reality to these old buildings.
Also, kudos for embracing your photography passionette 🙂
I thought the history was so interesting… and I just scratched the surface. Those kids heading into the shelters reminded me of the B&W pictures from my youth of students huddling under their desks (like they would protect us).
Way cool photos. Such an amazing glimpse back in time. The door at the top of the rusty stairs looks like it could be the beginning of a murder mystery. 🙀
Oooooh, Ally, I wish I wrote fiction 🙂
Great images and that old photo is fabulous.
Thank you! I was thrilled to find that picture when I was doing a little research for my post.
I grew up in San Rafael, not far from Mare Island. I remember it full of ships and submarines. Your visit and realistic photographs of its current state of decay have inspired me to stop the next time I am in the area.
I bet you’d enjoy poking around there. The brewery isn’t open yet, but maybe it will be when you visit 🙂
Thanks for the rusty pictures and some history. 😉
You are wecome! They were fun to photograph.
I do love some rust
It makes things more interesting… who needs shiney and new?
Terrific photos. I am also a big fan of old warehouses AND shipyards. There is always interesting huge architecture and such a sense of time passed, as your photos show.
There’s just something about old structures that are tied to history. I sincerely hope the powers that be see the value of maintaining those buildings and their ties.
I loved this post. Great photos and history. I lived on Alameda NAS, not far from there. Also no longer in operation (decay combined with renewal), I try to visit every year or so.
Is the old Alameda NAS accessible to those of us who lust for rust? If so, I may have to visit the next time I’m in the area. Thanks for the tip!
Yes, it’s open.
Awesome shots Janis. Almost like stepping into a time capsule. Thanks for the tour 🙂
Speaking of stepping into things… I would have loved to see inside one of those shelters. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are accessible to the public. Oh well…
This is so fascinating – thank you for writing about this. And you got to ride around the island on bikes? That’s too cool! The door to the brick building with arched windows (I think they are called Palladian windows) is stunning. So majestic and inspiring! I remember the siren drills where we all huddled under our school desks. Clearly, we were not safe, but we didn’t know any better!
No bikes for us, unfortunately, but I saw a few people riding them and it seemed like a great way to get around. I’m not sure what the point was of asking us to get under our desks – maybe to give us a false sense of security. I don’t think those spindly desks would even provide much protection in an earthquake, much less from a bomb.
As always, I love your door photos. I like the idea that the rust and decay make the doors more interesting. Hopefully, my wrinkles and scars make me more interesting. 🙂
That’s my thinking too! Wrinkles, scars, and rust show character (and I’m acquiring more and more character all the time 🙃 ).
“Lust-for-rust and pray-for-decay” indeed. 😀 Great stuff, especially first four photos. ❤
Thank you! I can tell that you are a rust enthusiast too!
I noticed a caption on one of your photos says, “Decay makes me happy.” I’ve been to Mare Island, and yes, it is beautiful. I thought you might also enjoy a trip to Fort Ord, in the Monterey Bay area. It’s an old Army base that has been closed for many years. Talk about decay and some great places to photograph. It’s one of my favorite places. For whatever reason, I feel peaceful there. Anyway, I loved your photos of Mare Island.
Thanks for the tip! I remember seeing Fort Ord the last time we were in Monterey but – silly us – we didn’t stop to check it out. Moss Landing is another great place for rust and run-down buildings in the area.
You have really captured the feeling of the place with your photos. The rust and broken windows disrupt the symmetry and add visual interest.
Thanks, Jude. You are exactly right: if the windows had been intact and the siding shiny and new, it wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.
Very creative! Great thought and research was done on this! Love it😊
It was interesting to learn more about its history. Thanks visiting and for the comment!
Thank you for satisfying my own lust-for-rust and craving for decay. Old abandoned buildings offer endless treasures 😍
They are so much more interesting than boring new construction. There’s probably more decay than rust on older buildings where you are now (share!).
🤗 Currently making way back to Phuket. Hope to sail from there to The Andaman Islands on 15 Feb ⛵️
There is so much history in these buildings. Old abandoned facilities like this are so fascinating.
I was so happy that (for now, anyway) the old buildings were so accessible. There were even some well-placed broken windows that let us see inside.
Dear Janis, I’ve just sent you an email please when you get the chance take a look on it. Thanks for your time in advance. 🙂
Interesting and thought provoking pictures….it’s good to look back and remember what other have had to go through.
It’s hard to imagine living at a time when everyone felt as if a bomb could be launched their way at any time (oh, wait, maybe not so different from today 😦 ). Thanks for your comment!
One of my neighbours frequently reminds me (and proudly so) about her memories of her father taking her into a shelter/bunker that he built during the second world war when bombs were going off nearby (each time she forgets she has already told me – bless her – I think she enjoys re-telling the story, and who can blame her, she’s a survivor!) 😊
Comments are closed.