All the fotos I have of Lettie G. Howard were taken five or more years ago. So why am I posting these now . . . reposting some, in fact? Here’s why: April 8, 2013 Rosanne Cash will perform a gala concert to raise funds to restore Lettie, as she is affectionately known, which needs about $250,000 worth of repairs to repair rot and maintain her sailing integrity. Rosanne Cash traces her family to an ancestor who arrived in Salem, MA in 1643 aboard Good Intent. Click here for info on buying tickets.
Right now, Lettie is docked at Pier 17 cloaked in unflattering shrinkwrap. Here’s some history of the unique vessel:
Built in 1893 at Essex, MA, in the yard of Arthur D. Story, Lettie G. Howard is named for the daughter of her first captain, Frederick Howard, Lettie fished out of Gloucester, MA, for her first eight years. In 1901, she was purchased by owners in Pensacola, FL, for use in the red snapper fishery off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. After surviving two major hurricanes, she was thoroughly rebuilt in 1923 by a new owner—Thomas Welles of Mystic, CT—who installed her first auxiliary engine and renamed her Mystic C. She continued to fish under sail for the Welles Company for 43 years, until it disbanded in 1966. That year, she was sold to the Historic Ships Association in Gloucester, and in 1968 she was purchased by the year-old South Street Seaport Museum. She traveled from Gloucester to the Museum’s pier at South Street largely under sail. By then, she had been renamed twice, and her long working life had obscured her origins; research into her background led to a docking book that confirmed her identity as Lettie G. Howard.
Since 1968, Lettie has been a proud and beloved resident of South Street, where scores of fishing schooners like her used to dock to bring their catches to the Fulton Fish Market. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, and between 1991 and 1993 she was completely restored to her 1893 appearance. Lettie has operated as a certified sail training vessel since 1994, taking student crews on trips in New York Harbor and waters further afield—teaching history and ecology along with the skills and crafts of sailing, and celebrating the legacy of the North Atlantic fisheries and the Gloucester fleets.