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History Fort Lauderdale Honors Frank + Gertrude Denison [Event Recap]

Denison Yachting | November 3, 2021

Every year, History Fort Lauderdale (formerly the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society) honors individuals and companies making an impact on the city’s growth. This year, it’s celebrated the well-known Denison family, who received the History Makers Pioneer Family Award for being Broward County yachting-industry forerunners.

The event was held on Saturday, October 30 at Superyacht Pavillion At Pier 66. Guests enjoyed craft cocktails, chef-curated bites from local signature restaurants, and live entertainment. History Fort Lauderdale also unveiled plans for a permanent maritime exhibit to be hosted at its historic museum.

Bob Denison, president of Denison Yachting, accepted the History Makers award for the family. The Denison family got their start in the yachting business after Frank and Gertrude Denison (pictured, Bob Denison’s grandparents) bought a boatyard in the city during their honeymoon in 1948.

During its history, the shipyard, Broward Marine, became the county’s largest employer and the state’s largest defense contractor. Indeed, it initially built minesweepers. It went on to construct motor yachts in the 1950s and pioneered the country kitchen.

While it built hundreds of yachts, Broward Marine was renowned for launching the 95-foot (29-meter) megayacht ALISA V in 1956. Notably, ALISA V — still cruising, too, as MISS KIRA — was the largest American-built private yacht in 30 years. On a related note, Denison family members, besides Bob Denison, became active in the industry over the decades.

Broward 495 Launch

The Denison’s company, Broward Marine, and its workforce were largely responsible for much of the marine industry that developed over the course of their 50 years of yacht construction that started on the south fork of the New River in Fort Lauderdale.

In 1948, on their honeymoon, Frank and Gertrude Denison decided to buy a boatyard on the New River and shortly, thereafter, became the largest employer in Broward County, as well as the largest defense contractor in Florida.

Broward Marine Largest Yacht Boat Builders

The contracts they secured for the construction of US Navy minesweepers during this time period led to the construction of large motor yachts. The Denison’s yachting business, launched in the early 1950s with the construction of the largest yacht built in the US, post-WWII, the ALISA V, eventually led them to become most prolific large yacht builder in the world in 1993.

The first of only two yacht builders in the US to have received this recognition. Learn more about Denison’s family history or watch the video documentary.

Photo Gallery | History Fort Lauderdale Event Oct. 30, 2021

Thank you to Ted Swoboda for capturing the night.