Bath, Maine, December 20, 2016 – At a December 15 meeting, the Maine Maritime Museum Board of Trustees approved the acquisition of the historic schooner Mary E, believed to be the oldest Bath-built wooden vessel still afloat. She is also the oldest fishing schooner built in the state of Maine that is still sailing.
(2) Mary E has been running cruises in Connecticut since 2006. Photo courtesy of Matt Culen.
“Since the museum’s board approved the acquisition of this historic vessel, word has spread quickly. So many people have commented about the incredible gift this will be for the state of Maine to return this beautiful schooner to the place where she was built. We could not be more excited to restore and preserve this beautiful and significant symbol of Maine’s past,” said Amy Lent, the museum’s executive director.
Built in Bath in 1906 by shipbuilder Thomas E. Hagan (in a shipyard located where Bath Iron Works stands today), and restored in Bath in 1965 by William R. Donnell II (on the grounds of what is now Maine Maritime Museum), Mary E is a two-masted clipper schooner with a sparred length of 73 feet. This is the last of 69 vessels built by Hagan and representative of the type of vessel that would have been seen all over the coast of Maine in the 1900s.
Mary E will be delivered to the museum in spring of 2017, and the restoration work started by her current owner, Matt Culen of Pelham, N.Y., will be completed on the museum’s campus, giving the public the opportunity to witness historic shipbuilding techniques first hand.
Following completion of the work, Mary E will be docked at the museum, serving as a historic vessel accessible to everyone. Mary E will also serve as the ambassador of Maine Maritime Museum and of Bath, the “City of Ships,” traveling to events up and down the coast.
“This is a vessel of remarkable importance, despite its modest size,” said Senior Curator Nathan Lipfert. “We have compiled a list of historic Maine vessels that are still extant, and there is nothing older, or better, that is available to us. I am very excited about Mary E becoming part of the historic collection of the museum, and I am looking forward to continuing research on her long history.”
The museum will soon be launching a major fundraising effort to support the restoration and continued preservation of Mary E.
(1) Mary E in 1965 during her restoration at the Donnell Shipyard property, now the campus of Maine Maritime Museum. Photo courtesy of Maine Maritime Museum.
About Maine Maritime Museum
Maine Maritime Museum is an independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of Maine’s maritime heritage through gallery exhibits, an historic shipyard, educational programs, a research library, and narrated excursions along area waterways. Call (207) 443-1316 or visit www.MaineMaritimeMuseum.org for more information. 243 Washington Street, Bath, Maine, 04530.
Released by the Maine Maritime Museum, December 20, 2016.