Gosport Navy Yard: Before the Storm

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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

A Look Inside Camp Patrick Henry

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CPH Map

According to Major W. R. Wheeler in A Road to Victory, Camp Patrick Henry (CPH) was formally activated on December 2, 1942 as a staging area for troops heading overseas and returning home. Between this time and January 31, 1946, an estimated 1,412,107 people passed through the camp. CPH was divided into regimental areas, many with their own mess halls. There was also a post office, hospital, chapel, and theaters. But what did it actually look like?

We have come across many photos of buildings within the camp. Here are five that give good insight into the types of buildings one could find there. Their locations in CPH are noted on the map above using corresponding numbers.   Read more

Fun Fact Friday

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Ship Model Shop, January 1937

This month’s fun fact is about our Great Hall of Steam exhibition, which is our gallery that includes many large ship models.  What many may or may not know is that a good number of the models exhibited were built here at the museum.  On July 19, 1932, we opened a ship model shop for the purpose of creating models that could be displayed.

When the work began, they decided to do models of contemporary ships so that the plans from the actual ships could be used.  Most of these ended up being ships that had been built at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.  The first model the shop started working on was that of President Hoover of the Dollar Line, although a model of the tug John Twohy, Jr. was finished first.   Read more

Posters, part 7

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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.

Posters, part 5

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This time we have some posters from WWII era.  The first one encourages those on the home front to work on a farm during the summer for the US Crop Corps so that food can continued to be produced for our troops overseas.  The second one is a bit more startling and implies that Nazi’s are  the enemy and a threat to Christianity.  The third is a piece that came from Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and encourage the worker’s to keep producing so that the military would have what it needed.

The first one in this grouping also comes from Newport News Shipbuilding and encourages people to carpool to work.  I’ve always enjoyed the rhymes that go along with the Shipyard posters.   The second poster is WWI era and has the pastel colors and imagery that I always find so appealing.  It was done by artist James Montgomery Flagg to help recruit men to the Navy.  The last poster is also a recruiting poster, but from WWII.  I know that Lee is generally thought well of, but it seems weird to see his face on a poster for WWII.  Perhaps this piece was aimed at a particular audience.