1881: John Francis Shea opens the J. F. Shea Plumbing Company in Portland Oregon. From these humble beginnings as a modest, one man plumbing shop, the company evolved into one of the nation's largest and oldest privately owned construction companies.
1908: The company expands into major sewer and water supply construction jobs in the Portland area. In 1915, recognizing the company's growing diversity, the name of the company was changed to J. F. Shea Company, Inc.
1926: The Shea's are awarded the first of several major public improvement projects - the Portland Seawall. Soon to follow are the Mokelummne Pipeline in the East Bay of San Francisco, and the Owyhee Irrigation Project in Eastern Oregon. These projects put the J.F. Shea Company on the map for major public works projects, particularly in the Western U.S.
1931: Drilling begins for the diversion tunnels on the Hoover Dam project. These tunnels divert the Colorado river around the site of the dam allowing the giant barrier to be constructed. Charlie Shea, the eldest son of John F. Shea, leads the company's efforts on the project and is an integral part of the project's success.
1932: Ed Shea, John's middle son leads the company's efforts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Shea's responsibility on the project was constructing the piers that support the bridge's two towers. It was a large, difficult project complicated by the extreme conditions of the Bay. Soon to follow would be Shea's work on the construction of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge.
1933: The J.F. Shea Company moves its headquarters from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles where John Shea's youngest son, Gil, leads the company's work on the Los Angeles aqueduct, the first of many water and tunneling projects for the Metropolitan Water District.
1934: The company continues to grow as it participates in a series of government funded "New Deal" projects, including dam projects like Bonneville and Grand Coulee on the Columbia River, Shasta on the Sacramento River and Parker Dam on the Colorado River.
1937: The company works on the first of many East Coast projects with tunneling work in New York and Baltimore. This was soon to be followed by dam work for the Tennessee Valley Authority. (TVA)
1938: Anticipating the pre-war build-up, the J.F. Shea Company, as part of the Six Companies, enters the ship building business. By the end of the war, they helped build 1800 ships or about 25% of the Maritime Commission's total program, including 40% of the Liberty Ships used in the war.
1942: This year marked the passing of Charlie Shea who had transformed the company from being a small plumbing contractor to a key player in some of the largest public work projects in history. During the war construction projects continued although labor and material shortages made progress nearly impossible in some instances.
1956: Gil's son John and Edmund's son Edmund Jr. cut their teeth as laborers on projects like the Clear Creek Tunnel and Big Cliff Diversion Tunnel. Edmund's brother Peter was still in school but would soon join his older brother and cousin.
1962: The next generation of Shea's re-incorporate as the J. F. Shea Co., Inc. The entity that is still in place today. With John Shea as President and Edmund and Peter as Vice-Presidents, they establish themselves as one of the nation's preeminent tunneling contractors but also work in other areas such as highway construction.
1965: The Shea's are part of a successful bid for 6 projects on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. The largest of these was the Berkeley Hills tunnel. They also helped to construct the Powell Street Station.
1968: The Shea's make their most important diversification decision and enter into homebuilding. This capital intensive business effectively puts to use the capital being generated by the tunneling projects. Lacking expertise in this industry, their initial role is that of a financial partner.
1968: Also in 1968, the Shea's make their first investments as venture capitalist. Led by Edmund and taking advantage of the his proximity to Silicon Valley, their investments read like a who's who in technology. Companies like Apple Computers, Adobe, Altera Computers, Genentech and AES corporation are among the over 250 companies receiving investments from Shea Ventures.
1974: During the 1970's the Shea's were building homes in Southern California, Northern California and Nevada. Their growth was slow but steady as they developed the talent and expertise to compete in this new market.
1977: This year marks the start of Shea Properties which will build and develop apartments, retail centers, and commercial property in many of the markets where Shea was building homes. In fact, Shea Properties often developed the shopping and commercial projects in Shea Homes' master planned communities.