A National Historic Landmark, Schooner Ernestina Returns to State Pier
Ernestina’s return was well covered. Tom Lopes produced a great slide show on his YouTube Channel,
Don Cuddy covered the return in South Coast News.
and lots of pictures in an earlier post.
On October 14th DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert welcomed the ship back to State Pier as reported in this release from DCR’s office.
NEW BEDFORD – FRIDAY, October 14, 2011– Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr. today toured the historic Schooner Ernestina, which returned this week to its berth at the New Bedford State Pier after undergoing repairs in Fairhaven since June. The schooner, which is owned by the Commonwealth and operated and maintained by DCR, will reopen to the public in this spring for dockside tours.
The vessel was towed from the Fairhaven shipyard, where it had undergone repairs and maintenance. that included replacement of 25 planks, repainting and caulking of joints at a total cost of $183,000 funded by DCR. In the coming weeks, DCR staff will winterize the vessel and conduct maintenance.
“A piece of Massachusetts’ nautical history, this landmark vessel returns to its home here in New Bedford where it can continue to serve for years to come as a public educational destination for students, teachers, historians and visitors to explore,” said Commissioner Lambert.
Built in 1894 the Schooner Ernestina, formerly known as the Effie M. Morrissey, is a National Historic Landmark and the official vessel of the Commonwealth. The boat is the oldest surviving Grand Banks fishing schooner, the only surviving 19th century Essex-built fishing schooner, and one of two remaining examples of the Fredonia style schooners – the most famous American fishing vessel type. The schooner is also one of only two sailing Arctic exploration vessels left afloat in the United States. The other is the Schooner Bowdoin, a National Historic Landmark.
The Commonwealth has owned the Ernestina since 1982 after receiving the vessel as a gift to the United States from the Republic of Cape Verde. The Schooner Ernestina Commission, which is appointed by Governor Patrick and comprised of community representatives and historical, tourism and education experts, is responsible for overseeing preservation and operation of the 117-year-old schooner. DCR owns and manages the vessel on behalf of the Commonwealth and works cooperatively with the Commission on preservation projects.
The Schooner Ernestina’s principal mission is educational, providing on-board and dockside public tours.
DCR invested $1.2 million – including $500,000 in federal funds from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures Grant Program – on repairs to the forward section of the Ernestina from 2008 to 2009. DCR is undertaking a full assessment of the ship’s condition with the goal of restoring the ship to sailing condition as the Ernestina requires further repairs to the masts and rigging.
In 2006, Governor Patrick directed commission members to develop public-private partnerships to create financial stability for capital repairs and the continued operation of Ernestina. As part of this effort, the Schooner Ernestina Morrissey Association (SEMA) purchased a new mast.
The history of the Schooner Ernestina:
1894: Built in Essex, MA, named Effie M. Morrissey
1894-1925: Fishing schooner, and from 1914-1925, a cargo carrier
1926-1946: Arctic exploration schooner, under Captain Robert A. Bartlett (1875-1946),
including service in WWII
1948: Renamed Ernestina in 1948
1948-1960s: Transporting cargo and Cape Verdean immigrants to and from the United States
1970s: Establishment of local and national friends groups advocating for Ernestina’s
1982-today: Educational vessel owned and operated by the Commonwealth of
For more information about the history of the Ernestina, visit the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Library Ernestina archives page
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