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Walter J. McInnis (1893-1985) began his career as an apprentice with Thomas F. McManus. Spending only a short time there, he soon moved to the George Lawley & Son Corp. in Neponset, Massachusetts where he worked as a draftsman in the design office for twelve years. After leaving in 1924 to manage the Frederick S. Nock yard in East Greenwich, Rhode Island and head the design office there, Mr. McInnis was invited to rejoin the Lawley yard as chief naval architect and assistant general manager in 1925.
Only a year later, Albert E. Eldredge (-1936), vice president and general manager of Lawley’s, and Walter J. McInnis formed their own firm of Eldredge-McInnis, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts. While not a designer, Mr. Eldredge had worked at the Gas Engine & Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury & Co., Consolidated, managed the Milton Point Shipyard in Rye, New York, and worked with the U. S. Navy in World War I. He brought many years of experience in sales, promotion, marketing and financial expertise to the partnership, leaving the design work to Mr. McInnis. Some of the most influential contracts the new firm had were with American Car & Foundry company and Richardson Boat Company, Inc., designing lines of stock cruisers. Hundreds of these cruisers were built for the newly affluent American market.
Continuing in this line, the Eastward, Eastward Junior, Eastward Ho and Eastward Ho Senior classes were popular for their ease of handling and maintenance and their ability to be easily driven under sail or power. Eldredge-McInnis was also closely associated with the U. S. government. Thirteen out of fifteen U. S. Coast Guard classes designed between 1932 and the Korean War were Eldredge-McInnis designs. During World War II, the firm had so much business, they combined with the John G. Alden Co. for 5 years and did $3 billion worth of work for the war effort, including tugs, salvage ships, minesweepers and small transports. The company’s work was also popular with commercial fisherman, especially in Canada where the designs were known to be designed and engineered to operate efficiently and safely in the harsh conditions of commercial fishing.
Although Albert E. Eldredge died in 1936, Walter J. McInnis maintained the firm and continued a very active design practice until his retirement in 1976 at the age of 83.
Information courtesy of the Mystic Seaport Museum.