Success (and Liquor) on the Rocks

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The Success Wedged on a Rock, LE 1452. The image can be found after page 94 of John Hamilton Moore’s 1778 book, “A New and Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels,” online here.

2020 has been a rocky year but humor has definitely helped me along the way. So when I stumbled onto this print and couldn’t stop laughing, I knew that I had to share it. The print is titled “The Success wedged on a Rock, being at the same time between the fire of the Spanish Fort at Umata and a Ship in the Harbour.” Irony anyone?

With such a hilarious title I dug deeper and just laughed more. The captain of Success was John Clipperton, a British sailor who was born in 1676 and joined Captain William Dampier on Saint George for an expedition to the Pacific from 1703-1704. This voyage gave Clipperton knowledge of the Pacific islands, which he put to good use when he led a mutiny against Dampier and left in a prize ship. That didn’t end well: the Spanish captured and imprisoned him in Panama for four years under Juan Antonio Rocha Carranza, Marquis de Villa-Rocha.   Read more

Opening Day: What The Mariners’ Museum looked like in the 1930s

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Today, The Mariners’ Museum and Park’s exhibition space is roughly 90,000 square feet; but when the Museum opened to the public in November 1933, there was only a little over 12,000 square feet of gallery space. Sure, this is not a “small” space. All of our houses are probably significantly smaller, but this is a far cry from the originally intended Museum – a grand, sprawling, geometric affair. 

In April 1931, Archer Huntington stated, “My idea for the museum is a structure built not by architects but by engineers, and I think we can do this in the Yard. The moment you attempt to produce an art building on the usual Greek or Roman lines, you have made something which will clash entirely with the exhibits, which are purely scientific and mathematical.” To that end, the Museum’s projected budget for 1931 included $50,000 to “start museum”. The rest of that year’s budget was allocated to the dam, roads, and property maintenance. This vision would not come to pass, though, at least not as originally intended. Instead, the idea of a new building was put on hold (thanks Great Depression), and The Mariners’ Museum exhibits were put in a “temporary” gallery space located in the Museum’s service building.    Read more

Episode III – Mariners Still Sailing Together…Apart

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Rachel, the Museum's Information Specialist, searching the archives.
Rachel, the Museum’s Information Specialist, searching the archives. All images in this blog: Amanda Shields/Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Episode III – Digitization of the Print

In a museum not so far far away there’s not just one, but two Mariners’ crew whose work is so interconnected that even a pandemic can’t change that. Now, our Library Information Specialist and Cultural Heritage Photographer are discovering what “working closely” looks like at a distance.

A Reference in References

An unassuming white door is nestled in the center of a white wall you’d never even notice was there unless someone pointed it out to you. Through that door is what we call Gallery 1. Inside it, a large table fills the front of the room to lay out large items. It’s filled with books, photos, drawings, and the most high-tech shelves I’ve ever seen! Seriously, these are not your grandpa’s stagnant library shelves. With the push of a button, they slide together, closing one aisle and revealing the next aisle of records.   Read more

Rabbit Hole Leads Me to Moon

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Norfolk Marine Railway Co., Acme Photo Company, Inc., Nov. 1934 (MS0598-PS485).

Recently I came across a scrapbook created for and donated to The Mariners’ Museum in 1935 by George W. Roper titled Shipyards and Ship Repair Yards of the Port of Norfolk and Hampton Roads. Roper wrote “a short account of each yard or plant of which I have been able to obtain any reliable record, beginning with the earliest.”1

The typewritten account is eight pages long, and is followed by 25-27 photographs of area shipyards, including Moon Shipyard and Repair Company. I thought, Moon – what a cool name! Curiosity over the name led me down the rabbit hole that is this blog. That, and the striking clarity and composition of the photographs, taken by Acme Photo of Norfolk (ca. 1930s), compelled me to seek out and share their history.   Read more

A Glimpse of Early 20th-Century Life at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company

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The man himself, January 28, 1905. Charles Bailey was also administrative vice president for the project of building the Mariners’ Museum and creating the Park.

Charles Franklin Bailey (1863-1934), a native of Vermont, came to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in 1891 as chief draftsman. Appointed chief engineer in 1900, Bailey was later named engineering director and a member of the yard’s board of directors in 1918. From its beginning, Bailey was active in the founding and success of The Apprentice School. After he retired from the shipyard in 1934, the Charles F. Bailey Award was created in his honor, recognizing the graduate with the highest scholastic average.

Bailey enjoyed photography and he created three small albums of photographs that he took between 1903 and 1905. In addition to documenting ships under construction or in for repair, there are views of the shipyard, buildings in Newport News and residences in Norfolk.   Read more