Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Famed Country Singer To Help South Street Seaport Museum Restore 19th Century Ship

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A celebrity is stepping in to help the South Street Seaport Museum restore a ship that helps tell the story of 19th century New York. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

The Lettie G. Howard is a piece of maritime history, but the ship is in some serious need of repair.

"She's one of the last surviving examples of her type," said Jonathan Boulware, waterfront director at the South Street Seaport Museum. "An Essex-built fishing schooner, the kind of fishing schooner that was used for cod fishery and numerous other fisheries in the North Atlantic in the colonial era and into the early part of the United States. Really, a magic example of her type."

The Lettie was built in 1893. It will take about $275,000 worth of work to make it ready to sail again. Experts have to rebuild the ship's central structure and replace rotting wood.

"Lots of stuff has to be taken out to get at it and then to repair it, and then we put the whole vessel back together around it," Boulware said. "It's a pretty involved job, but it's a very achievable job."

The vessel isn't just a relic of the northeast's fishing history. It's also used as a teaching vessel to show people how to sail.

"People talk about living history," Boulware said. "Well, what's more living history than going out on an 1893 schooner and actually using the wind to move the vessel around?"

That's something that deeply interested country singer Roseanne Cash. Cash said members of her family have been mariners since as far back as the mid-1600s. Because of that, she's performing a benefit concert for the Lettie next week.

"It's so important, not only because it's educational, but because it connects them to the maritime history of New York City," Cash said.

"Having these ships down here at a street that was once full of ships is a visual reminder of the story of maritime New York, of the commerce that once came through South Street," Boulware said.

The goal is to begin construction on the Lettie this year and have it up and sailing by spring 2014.

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