OK, we are a week late and it is snowing outside, but we do want to to wish the schooner Lettie G. Howard the warmest of welcomes now that she has returned to her berth at the South Street Seaport. We also would like to congratulate all the fine folks who worked so hard to bring her home.
Lettie G. Howard is a wooden Fredonia schooner built in 1893 in Essex, Massachusetts. After a long and productive working life, she was sold to the South Street Seaport Museum in 1968. In February of 2012, the Lettie was drydocked at the Mystic Seaport in CT to repair rot in her keelson. The rot turned out to be far more extensive than originally thought. Through the generosity and hard work of supporters, volunteers and staff, more than $250,000 was raised to rebuilt and return the historic schooner to the New York waterfront. This included an amazing benefit concert featuring Rosanne Cash.
What is so impressive about the overall effort is that the South Street Seaport Museum has been staggering under a series of body blows for the last several years. In 2011, the museum effectively shut down due to financial difficulties. In 2012, it was reopened provisionally, with a new board and under the management of the Museum of the City if New York. Just as the new management was settling in, the museum and the entire seaport district was inundated by the storm surge from Superstorm Sandy. The Museum of the City of New York has since withdrawn from active management and the South Street Seaport Museum is now facing a threat from a Texas real-estate developer which could be a greater than any hurricane.
When faced by so many challenges, it is important to celebrate every victory. The restoration and return of the Lettie G. Howard is a victory indeed. Congratulation to all who made it happen.