Rabbit Hole Leads Me to Moon

Posted on
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

Gosport Navy Yard: Before the Storm

Posted on
Gosport Navy Yard, Portsmouth, ca. 1840. Historical Recollections of Va, Henry Howe, 1852. Library of Congress.
Gosport’s Beginnings

Gosport Navy Yard, located in Portsmouth, across the Elizabeth River from the busy port of Norfolk, Virginia, was one of the largest shipyards in the United States. Norfolk merchant Andrew Sprowl established the yard in 1767. Sprowl remained a loyalist when the Revolutionary War erupted. The yard was confiscated by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and then burned by the British in 1779.

The yard remained inactive until 1794, when the property was leased by the United States. Captain Richard Dale served as the superintendent for this new government shipyard. When the US Navy was formally established in 1798, it assumed operation of the yard and designated it as the Gosport Navy Yard.   Read more

Jamestown 1907 Exhibition

Posted on
Edward Hungerford Collection, 02506 and 02514

The year 1907 marked the 300th anniversary of the founding of the settlement at Jamestown and a grand exhibition was hosted in Norfolk to mark the occasion. Globe-trotting journalist Edward Hungerford was one of those in attendance and The Mariners’ Museum Library has recently digitized some of his works in our possession about the event.

The Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition ran from April 26 – November 30, 1907. This impressive model city was built at Norfolk’s Pine Beach with the idea to capitalize on the craze in American popular culture at the time for pageantry and have something like a World’s Fair for Hampton Roads. Today Pine Beach is part of Norfolk Naval Base and some of the grounds have since given way to a golf course and other functions for the base. However some original buildings still remain having been re-purposed into the officers’ club and admiral’s quarters.   Read more

Posters, part 7

Posted on
ln243

Our first poster is obviously a WWII poster and encourages people to remember Pearl Harbor and join the Coast Guard to help defend the country.  The image was done by Charles Rosner.  The second poster has pretty much the same message as the first, just without mention of Pearl Harbor.  Both of these posters were used in a recruiting office in Norfolk, VA, which is probably how we ended up with them.  The third poster is one of my favorites, I guess because I don’t generally associate space travel with the Navy.  It is ca 1955 with an unknown artist.

“Pour it on” is a great poster from 1942 by artist Jarret Price.  It was made by the United States War Production Board and it looks as though we might have received our copy from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, which would make sense because we have received many posters from them.  The second is another WWII poster and features a sad, but true, message about the inhabitants of Lidice, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic).  The third poster ca 1950’s/60’s encourages women to join the Navy and shows three different positions they can hold.  It was done by artist Lou Nolan.

Artifact of the Month – Painting of SS Kaiser Wilhelm II

Posted on
kaiser wilhelm

Today’s object of the month is an oil painting featuring the steamship Kaiser Wilhelm II in front of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.  I remember when I first came across it as I thought it was such a strange image with the ship completely out of water, but of course that’s how an allegorical painting is supposed to look.  With my interest piqued, I went to check out the file folder to see what the background of this painting was.  To my dismay, there was next to no information in the file and the wrong artist had even been attributed to the painting, despite the fact that there is a clear signature in the bottom left hand corner.

I am a rather curious person by nature, and so not knowing anything about this painting was rather painful.  Taking what little I knew about it, which was basically just the artist, I turned to my best friend for answers, Google.  I soon found out that the artist, Otto Bollhagen, was a well-known painter in Bremen, Germany.  This is where he set up his ‘atelier’, meaning studio.  Underneath ‘Atelier Bollhagen’ on the signature is ‘Bremen’.  The business Otto started in 1892 continues today under the leadership of a great-grandson.   Read more