USS Constellation

Behind the Scenes

November 14, 1999|By Karin Remesch

Mission: The restoration, care and maintenance of the only surviving Civil War-era vessel and the last sailing warship ever built by the U.S. Navy. And the promotion of the vessel as a cultural and educational resource -- all under the stewardship of the Constellation Historical Preservation Corp. Inc. The vessel, built in 1854, was active for 100 years. The ship carried its fight against slavery into the Civil War; aided the 1880 famine relief in Ireland; and was the primary training ship of the U.S. Naval Academy for more than two decades.

Latest accomplishment: A $9 million restoration and reconstruction of the historic vessel. The project took more than three years and more than 50 shipwrights worked to return the ship to its original configuration as a sloop of war. The USS Constellation returned to its home berth at Pier I in the Inner Harbor in July.

On the horizon: While all of the major construction on the ship has been completed, the task of restoring the details on board remains. The goal is to have the ship look like it would have with a full complement of 300 sailors. Also, "Ship as a Machine" tours at 11 a.m. Mondays and 2 p.m. Fridays (learn how the vessel was built, powered, propelled and controlled); restoration tours at 2 p.m. Sundays (learn about the innovative technology and traditional methods used to restore the vessel); and powder monkey tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays (youngsters "muster" to become Civil War powder monkeys). The "Civil War Santa Claus" arrives on deck to greet visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 26 and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 17.

About the museum. Membership: 250. Attendance: More than 70,000 since reopening July 2. Operating budget: $1.2 million.

Where and When: Pier I, Inner Harbor, 301 E. Pratt St., Baltimore. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through April 30; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 1 through Labor Day. Web site: Call 410-539-1797.

Gail R. Shawe, chair of the advisory committee: "It's great to have the Constellation back at the Inner Harbor to resume her place of historic importance. We hope people will come aboard and get involved in the many projects and tours offered."

Members of the advisory committee

David Beck

Nancy Bloom

Clarence Davis

William B. Gilmore

Charles F. Hughes

Susan Langley

Kenneth C. Malley

Mary Sue McCarthy

Linda J. McCarty

John F. Novak

Beth J. Olson

Joseph C. Reid

James M. Slattery

Edwin S. Tharp

Christopher Rowsom

Pub Date: 11/14/99

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