Preserving the past and ensuring a bright future.
The Collections Research Center (CRC) is the nation’s leading maritime research facility. Located across the street from Mystic Seaport, the former J. Rossie Velvet Company houses the Museum’s collections and offers safe and easy access to maritime researchers and scholars. Artifacts at the CRC include more than two million examples of maritime art, artifacts, tools, buildings, imprints and other documents, photographs, 1,000 ships registers, 600 audiotaped oral history interviews, 200 videotaped interviews, and 1.5 million feet of historic and contemporary maritime-related footage. The CRC opened in the fall of 2002 and was designed to exceed national museum standards for conservation, preservation, accessibility, and safety. The research center provides cutting-edge temperature and humidity control for the Museum’s artifacts and also boasts audio/video production suites and extensive photo processing and digitizing labs.
News From the Collections
When the call came into the shipyard at Mystic Seaport on February 26, 2015 the feeling was initially that it was a crank call. Why would the Coast Guard in San Diego be calling Mystic Seaport for help regarding a boat washed ashore after a storm in California? Once the story was told it began to make a bit more sense. A sea-going motor yacht, the MONA MONA, grounded in the surf at a navy base in Coronado. Fearing that the fuel tanks, which can carry up to 1,200 gallons, might be breached, the Coast Guard sent in a team from their Incident Management Division in the San Diego Sector. Marine Science Technician Petty Officer 3rdclass Eben Smith made a call to Nordhavn Yachts who build similar vessels, trying to determine the location of the fuel tanks in the yacht. Unable to accommodate MST3 Smith and his team with the proper technical information, they did the next best thing. They directed him to Mystic Seaport!
|The MONA MONA stranded on a beach in Coronado, California. |
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The MONA MONA, built in 1972, was designed by Captain Robert Beebe, the progenitor of the long-distance trawler cruising movement. MONA MONA was one of Beebe’s early designs, meant for cruising in the Mediterranean, but with large enough fuel tanks to make an Atlantic crossing. However, the boat, built in Costa Mesa, began and ended its life on the West Coast.
Mystic Seaport maintains the archive of Captain Beebe’s plans, so when Eben Smith called looking for the plans, our Library was able to quickly locate them, photograph the critical portion (see image) and send it via text message to him on site at the wreck. That was at 3:04 p.m. Eastern Time. AT 8:01 p.m., we received a text from an enthusiastic Smith stating, “Just want to let you know the schematics you provided helped remove over 400 gallons of fuel, without a drop in the ocean! Thank you very much to everyone I spoke to over at Mystic Seaport. You truly saved the day!” And while it is likely that such a capable young man would have eventually figured out the problem without our help, it is gratifying to know that Mystic Seaport was able to make his day a bit easier and contribute in a meaningful way.
|Detail of plan showing starboard fuel tank of MONA MONA.|
Coll. 125, Daniel S. Gregory Ships Plans Library, Mystic Seaport
The fate of the MONA MONA, however, does not have a happy ending. A recent news report mentioned that the boat’s owner and the U.S Navy had not yet determined what to do with the double-decked 50-foot yacht and it was filling up with sand as it sat on the beach. Late word from MST3 Smith, however, is that the yacht was demolished before it could deteriorate more in the surf. At least no petroleum from it will stain that stretch of coast line thanks to the work of the Coast Guard.
Posted: March 31, 2015, 2:37 pm
The saying is usually, "If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb..." Well, this February has certainly come in like a lion...and this icy picture of the tugboat LION from 1925 kind of says it all regarding how most of us feel about this winter. On January 24, 1925, Morris Rosenfeld was out with his camera and took this image of the New London Ship and Engine Company tug on the East River, capturing the ice-encrusted boat and the chilly atmosphere of the day.
|Tug LION. Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection.|
That same day, at about 9.a.m., Morris was taking another shot with his camera. The picture of the full solar eclipse below must have been taken somewhere above 90th Street in Manhattan or up into the Bronx, because that was where the eclipse became total. It was quite an event in New York with dozens of planes and even the Navy's largest dirigible, the LOS ANGELES, in the air to take photos of the rare happening. The 1925 eclipse was the last total one to be visible in a large U.S. metropolitan area, and Morris was able to get a number of shots in the short time that the birds were heading back to roost at such an odd time of the day.
Click on the images to get a more detailed view.
|1925 Total Eclipse, New York City. Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection.|
Posted: February 18, 2015, 3:31 pm
The picture of the elegant diners is from the Grace Line passenger steamer SANTA PAULA in the 1930’s. In the background is a large 14 by 8 foot painting of the ship W.R. GRACE by Charles Robert Patterson which eventually came to the Museum in 1961 and has hung in the Aloha Meeting House (the Greenmanville Church) since that time.
|Conservators working on the GRACE|
From its time aboard the ship and the intervening five decades in the church, the painting has built up quite a layer of grime. Two conservators from the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (at right) spent three days here in the Fall putting a little sparkle back into the clipper ship by stripping off some of the layers of dirt. The project was inspired by Bob Webb, a former curator at the Kendall Whaling Museum and the Maine Maritime Museum and a performer well-known in sea music circles. Bob passed away last year and one of his wishes was to see the painting conserved since, in addition to his other passions, Bob was also a writer and one of his books was a biography of Charles Robert Patterson, the artist. To help fulfill his wish, Bob’s widow Helen has been raising funds to help pay for the conservation work. Stop by and see if the painting looks a little perkier to you. And give a nod of thanks to Bob for helping to make it happen.
|Detail of the W.R. GRACE (MSM accession # 1961.302)|The work is a depiction of the W.R. GRACE leaving the coast of California in the 1880’s. There were four “SANTA” ships built in the 1930’s and each one had on board a painting done by Charles Robert Patterson. There is one in the Maine Maritime Museum that went to them from the W.R. Grace offices in Boca Raton in 1999. It is also a painting of the W.R. GRACE and is entitled “Report Me All Well,” and that one was in the SANTA ELENA. When the SANTA ELENA was turned into a troop ship, the painting came out and was later trimmed down and repainted to fit in the W.R. Grace company offices. The other two SANTA ships, the SANTA ROSA and the SANTA LUCIA, carried portraits of the ship M.P. GRACE. The whereabouts of those two paintings is unknown. The one in our church is considered the masterpiece of the four and the only one kept in its original round-topped, half-moon configuration.
Posted: January 30, 2015, 12:57 pm
When the five-masted schooner JENNIE R. DUBOIS was launched in February of 1902, she became the largest vessel ever built on the Mystic River. 249 feet long and 2,237 tons, she was built by the Holmes Shipbuilding Company and named for the wife of Rhode Island judge E.C. Dubois. She was built for the lumber and coal-carrying trades and proved to be too large for the Mystic River, having become stuck in the mud when she was launched. Hopefully the owner of the $100,000 vessel carried enough insurance because the DUBOIS was lost only a year and a half later in September of 1903 after being run down in the fog near Block Island by a German steamship while carrying a load of coal. She became a hazard to navigation and was dynamited to guarantee safe passage in the area. Local historian Carol Kimball wrote a nice article for The Day in 2002 on the construction and demise of the DUBOIS. The schooner was rediscovered 104 years later in 2007 by a group of local divers and was once again in the news.
|JENNIE R. DUBOIS by S.F.M. Badger (MSM acc. # 2014.70.1)|
This painting of the JENNIE R. DUBOIS is a recent gift to the Museum and joins another painting of the DUBOIS in the Museum’s possession (accession number 1957.10), both by the same artist, S.F.M. Badger. Solon Francis Montecello Badger was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1873 and died as a relatively young man in 1919. Having studied under William P. Stubbs in his youth, Badger’s style is very reminiscent of Stubbs’ work. Mystic Seaport is very happy that the donors of the painting decided to keep it in the Mystic area where it will be truly appreciated.
Posted: December 23, 2014, 1:17 pm
The CRC will be closed to researchers during the weeks of Dec. 22nd and Dec. 29th. We will reopen to researchers on Wednesday, January 7th at 2:00. Happy Holidays!
Posted: December 17, 2014, 9:01 pm