A year to remember at Herreshoff

The Herreshoff Museum is celebrating its 50th birthday with a packed calendar of events that celebrate its storied past

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/14/21

“It’s going to be a busy year around here,” said Herreshoff Marine Museum Executive Director Bill Lynn about the 2021 season that marks the 50th year of Herreshoff, the Museum (the …

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A year to remember at Herreshoff

The Herreshoff Museum is celebrating its 50th birthday with a packed calendar of events that celebrate its storied past


“It’s going to be a busy year around here,” said Herreshoff Marine Museum Executive Director Bill Lynn about the 2021 season that marks the 50th year of Herreshoff, the Museum (the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, founded by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff and John Brown Herreshoff in 1878, predated the museum by nearly a century, on this same site).

The Herreshoff Marine Museum was founded by Sidney DeWolf Herreshoff and Rebecca Chase Herreshoff in 1971. Propelled by the donation of a historic powerboat from the estate of a Jamestown man they had never met, the Herreshoff family built an extraordinary institution on the site of the old manufacturing company.

Admired by Henry Ford and other industrialists, the company built 2,000 steam-powered vessels, U.S. Navy ships, and sailboats, as well as technically superior yachts that dominated the international racing scene, including eight consecutive yachts to defend the America’s Cup, from 1893 to 1934. Known around the world as the “Wizard of Bristol,” Captain Nat’s innovative designs were built to unrelenting high standards of craftsmanship.

Since its founding, the museum’s waterfront campus has grown dramatically, from when it consisted of nothing but a small fleet of Herreshoff boats, a literal “floating museum.” Today, the museum includes a number of original company buildings, the Herreshoff family homestead, and a modern exhibition building, the Isaac B. Merriman, Jr. Hall of Boats, with more than 60 Herreshoff wooden boats, steam engines, and an array of artifacts. The Nathanael G. Herreshoff Model Room & Workshop exhibit is a recreation of Captain Nat’s own model room and workshop, and contains more than 500 original design models, U.S. Patent Office models, tools and documents.

The 50-year history of the Herreshoff Marine Museum has preserved not only this chapter of American ingenuity, it serves as a bridge to the future of boatbuilding. Over the past five years, the museum has delivered STEM-focused experiential education programs to thousands of Rhode Island students. The museum is now partnering with the National Sailing Hall of Fame on an America’s Cup Hall of Fame exhibit at its new Sailing Museum in Newport.

Open for the 2021 season

The museum is now open to the public for the season and kicking off the Jubilee celebration this weekend, Saturday May 15, with the “Frostbite Bash: Defrosted.” Over the past eight years, the Frostbite Bash has become the museum’s signature event. To safely start the Golden Jubilee, a number of outdoor afternoon events will take place along Burnside Street, including music by Chelley Knight & Chris Vaillancourt Band (3 to 6 p.m.). The evening program includes a beach bonfire and music by the Evan Goodrow Band (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.). For more information — and tickets — visit www.herreshoff.org.

On June 26, the New York Yacht Club, Newport, will host “A Celebration of Herreshoff One Design Yachts.” This special reception, perhaps the last time three restored Herreshoff one design yachts will be together in the United States, will feature AMORITA (New York 30), MARILEE (New York 40) and SPARTAN (New York 50).

Jazz concerts will be held at the waterfront tent on July 14 and 21, and Aug. 11 and 18.

The Ocean House in Watch Hill, a Presenting Sponsor of the Golden Jubilee, will host a reception Aug. 12 honoring the late James “Ding” Schoonmaker for his dedication to the Herreshoff Watch Hill 15 fleet. Guest of Honor John “Hap” Fauth will be celebrated as the leader of the New York Yacht Club AMERICAN MAGIC syndicate, the 36th America’s Cup Challenger of Record, that built two technically advanced racing yachts in Bristol.

The weekend of Aug. 27 to 29 will see the Herreshoff Golden Jubilee Regatta and Rendezvous grace Bristol Harbor and Narragansett Bay. Built on a tradition that began in 1981 of welcoming Herreshoff yachts and sailors back to Bristol, the museum will host three days of racing as well as a cruising event for the first time. All original Herreshoff boats are invited to participate, along with reproduction and spirit of tradition boats, the designs of L. Francis Herreshoff and Halsey C. Herreshoff, and also the America’s Cup 12-meter yachts.

The Golden Jubilee Waterfront Gala will be held Sept. 30, a celebratory gala on the historic waterfront to include the dedication of the RESOLUTE Syndicate monument; a centennial commemoration of the 1920 America’s Cup defender (Capt. Nat’s last yacht designed to win the Cup). Crafted by the historic stone carving firm, John Stevens Shop, the RESOLUTE Syndicate monument is a tribute to a successful COVID-perseverance initiative funded by many generous donors.

The celebration will head to New York City on Nov. 18 for the Golden Jubilee Closing Celebration and America’s Cup Hall of Fame Salute. This formal dinner takes place among the most impressive yacht model collection in the world, at The New York Yacht Club Model Room, which includes many Herreshoff yacht models. This special event concludes the Golden Jubilee and ushers in the 30th anniversary of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 2022. America’s Cup Hall of Fame inductees, America’s Cup veterans and Herreshoff enthusiasts will help salute the Next 50 vision of the museum as it continues to transform into an educational campus for the next generation of problem solvers.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Herreshoff … with a big reveal at the end,” said Ted Regan, the Museum’s director of advancement. “There’s going to be some really fun stuff happening with both our mission and our campus.”

To learn more about the Herreshoff Jubilee and these events, contact Mr. Regan at t.regan@herreshoff.org or visit www.herreshoff.org.

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

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