The San Francisco waterfront recently welcomed back the Klamath, an out-of-commission Bay Area ferry from 1925. The Bay Area Council moored it permanently at Pier 9 to serve as their new headquarters, and the historic vessel will soon be open for the public to visit for free on weekdays and on the first Saturday of each month. The ship has been restored and made accessible with the additions of an elevator and large roof deck and garden.
SF Chronicle reporter John King visited the Klamath on Tuesday at a members-only preview night, describing a “handsome oak staircase that corkscrews three levels from the entrance to the upper deck,” which contains “extensive planting beds that now hold hundreds of native drought-tolerant plants.”
Additional nooks and crannies include several high-tech conference rooms and a conference center, the engine room, secret balconies, a museum, pilot houses, and a bar.
The Klamath was built in 1925, and at 246 feet long and 65 feet wide, it was one of SF Bay’s largest ferries. It could carry up to 1,000 people and 78 vehicles at a time on its over 37,000 square feet of interior and exterior space. This ferryboat is one of only 5 remaining from the original fleet of 120, which had peak operations in the Bay from 1850 through 1939.
It so happens that the Bay Area Council put the ferry out of business when it created and funded the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, so the boat’s new role as the council’s headquarters makes for an ironically fitting comeback.
The ferryboat spent several decades in Stockton serving as corporate headquarters for Duraflame, but in October 2021 it was towed to Mare Island in Vallejo where Bay Area Council Chief Operating Officer John Grubb oversaw renovations. Nearly a year later, the historic vessel has a new interior and exterior befitting everything from office space rental to weddings.
The 3,000-square-foot rooftop deck is a must-see for its panoramic views of the SF skyline and Bay waters. With hundreds of native and drought-tolerant plants, it makes for a unique floating oasis several stories in the air.
As for the rest of the boat, it’s been outfitted with state-of-the-art conference rooms, lounges, updated bathrooms, and more to make it completely accessible and multifunctional.
Of course the magnificent ship’s restoration means an exciting new event space for the waterfront, but members of the public need only pass through the sign-in desk at the entrance to see it for themselves. You can soon visit the Historic Klamath for free during weekday working hours and on the first Saturday of the month. Stay tuned as we await more details about its public opening.