Developers Offer Beams From Mill Building For Ernestina

New Bedford Standard-Times
NEW BEDFORD — The developers of Riverside Landing plan to donate 24-foot-long beams of southern yellow pine to the preservation of New Bedford’s historic schooner Ernestina, city officials announced Tuesday.
The beams will “be carefully extracted as part of the demolition process of the remaining Fairhaven Mills structure,” Mayor Scott Lang’s office said in a press release.
At this time, however, a demolition permit has not been issued for the project and it is unclear when a decision might be made.
Earlier this month, the City Council voted 9-2 to send a proposed amendment to the demolition delay ordinance — which would allow the council to waive or shorten delays if the person seeking a demolition permit demonstrates a substantial hardship — to its Committee on Ordinance for a full debate. The committee met  Tuesday night but the matter was not on the agenda.
While their plans are contingent upon the granting of a demolition permit for Fairhaven Mills, developers Mark Dickinson and Mark White said they will donate the beams to Ernestina in care of Executive Director Paul Brawley until shipwrights need the wood to rehabilitate the aft end of the vessel.
“We’re very excited about this new aspect of the project. Already there are plans to reuse existing brick and granite from the site. Now we will salvage the beams and put them to good use preserving an iconic fixture in the harbor,” Dickinson said in a press release.
“It is great to see the lumber from this mill can be put to use helping to preserve the Ernestina,” Lang said.
In the release, Brawley said: “Southern yellow pine like this is the best material for planking above the waterline and deck. It’s in great condition. As we continue to preserve Ernestina, we are now ensured of having an invaluable supply of wood for the next phase.”
He added that “over the next month we will be working with the developers on a number of factors, including determining Ernestina’s requirements and the condition of the wood coming out of the building.”
Ernestina, the state’s official vessel, is undergoing an extensive $1.1 million rehabilitation of the forward end of the vessel, including bow and foredeck. The work is being done at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Maine. Brawley is in the process of raising an additional $3 million to do the aft end. The schooner is expected to return to New Bedford on May 9.
April 15, 2009
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Schooner Ernestina Gets a Facelift
By Leslie Friday/Correspondent

Essex –  Few things could survive 115 years without a little touch up.
The Ernestina, an Essex-built schooner launched in 1894, is undergoing rehabilitation in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine, and is scheduled to pass through Gloucester on its way home to New Bedford next month. This is not the first time the Ernestina has had work done.
“If you know sailing vessels, it’s a constant process,” said Ken Folley, deputy director of state parks for the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The Ernestina has earned its rest over the years. Originally named the Effie M. Morrissey and built in the James and Tarr Yard, the Ernestina launched from Essex on Feb. 1, 1894. According to the vessel’s Web site,, it served as a fishing vessel, an arctic explorer under Capt. Robert Abram Bartlett, and a WWII survey vessel used under Commander Alexander Forbes.
Cape Verde was the last owner of the Effie M. Morrissey, renaming it the Ernestina in 1947. It served as a packet schooner shuttling immigrants and goods from this island nation off the west coast of Africa to Massachusetts and the rest of the eastern seaboard.
Massachusetts received the Ernestina in 1982. The vessel is considered a park under the care of the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation. Recognized by the Department of Interior as a National Historic Landmark, the schooner is based at the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. Up until 2004, it took groups of visitors to sea for educational tours. A tight state budget has since docked it as an attraction vessel.
Folley emphasized that the Ernestina is a schooner of the Commonwealth.
“Like a vintage car, you’re only appointed as caretaker,” Folley said.
The Ernestina will make a few pit stops on its journey south. After launching from Booth Bay on May 5, the schooner will dock at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center around noon on May 6. Its next stop is Boston around noon the following day. It should arrive at its final destination in New Bedford on May 9 for a blow-out celebration.
Not quite ready for the high seas, the Ernestina will be towed to each location. Folley could not confirm whether visitors would be allowed on board, as the Coast Guard still needs to inspect the vessel once work is complete.
Shipbuilder Harold Burnham and carver Bob Brophy, both of Essex, were involved in the Ernestina’s latest round of rehabilitation, which focused on the vessel’s deck and transom.
Folley estimated the cost of the project at just over $1 million, with funding split between a grant from the National Park Service and DCR.
More work needs to be done. In a blog posting on the vessel’s Web site, Paul Brawley, executive director of Schooner Ernestina, said another $2.75 million to $3 million is needed to complete the rehabilitation of the main deck, transom, stern post, and upgrades to the ship’s mechanical and electrical systems, rigging and sails.
Brawley indicated in another blog posting that the department was still waiting to see whether the rehab would qualify for federal stimulus money as a “shovel ready” project.
A department spokeswoman was quick to respond on that score.
“We don’t know that yet,” said Wendy Fox
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April 13, 2009

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