Skip navigation.

Article in South Coast Today

mate's picture

Preservationists assail Ernestina's condition
Preservationist group deems Ernestina 'endangered'
&byline2;Standard-Times staff writer

The schooner Ernestina is one of the most neglected historic treasures in the Bay State, according to a preservationist group.
The nonprofit organization Preservation Massachusetts called the state's park system one of the most "endangered resources," and singled out the 112-year-old ship as one of the worst examples.
The Ernestina, which was used for exploration and carried immigrants from Cape Verde during its long history, is in dry dock in Fairhaven.
"We just felt very strongly about it and have been very concerned about the way the funding has gone for the Ernestina," said Jim Igoe, president of Preservation Massachusetts.
The group's annual list also highlighted Plymouth Rock and Borderland State Park, located on the Sharon-Easton town line, in its criticism of the state's park system.
Vanessa Gulati, a spokeswoman for the state's Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, defended the state's stewardship of the park system and the Ernestina.
"A great deal of information is just completely inaccurate," Ms. Gulati said.
Mr. Igoe said the information is provided by the people who nominated the historic properties. The Waterfront Historic Area League proposed the Ernestina as an endangered resource, he said.
If the state has been taking care of the ship, Mr. Igoe said, that begs the question: Why does it remain out of water?
To become seaworthy again, the ship needs more than $700,000 in repairs. Moreover, to revive the educational programs, Standard-Times staff writer

JOHN SLADEWSKI/The Standard-TimesBoat carpenter Antonio N. Marques yesterday paints a plank to lay on the bottom of the Ernestina at a boatyard in Fairhaven, where the 112-year-old ship is dry-docked. The schooner, which carried immigrants from Cape Verde and was used for exploration, joins Plymouth Rock and Borderland Park as examples of neglected historic treasures in the state, a preservation group says.

"Ernestina has an amazing history, and is a testament to the region's maritime history, the culture of New Bedford and our ties to Cape Verde," said Lisa Sughrue, executive director of WHALE, in a press release. "Her legacy spans continents, races and generations. Unfortunately, we're in danger of losing this national treasure."
Ms. Gulati said the state has spent $2.5 million on the Ernestina since acquiring the ship.
A $200,000 keel repair will be completed in the next few weeks. The state will do more work and seek to recertify with the Coast Guard so it can return to the water, she said.
The state will be interviewing candidates this fall to take over as executive director of the Schooner Ernestina Commission, she said.
This is the 13th year of the "endangered resources" list, which the preservationist group uses to focus attention on the condition of historic properties and their importance.
Out of more than 100 sites designated over the years, fewer than a dozen have been lost, according to the organization.
Besides the state's park system, the other nine "endangered" sites for 2006 are: Fort Port Channel in Boston; the General Loring House outbuildings in Beverly; the Sarah Clayes House in Framingham; the Keystone Arches in Middlefield, Chester and Becket; the Wheelwright Garden in Newburyport; the William Russell Allen House in Pittsfield; the Wright-Lock-Hamilton Farm in Winchester; the Worcester State Hospital Complex; and original wood windows in Massachusetts.
Contact Brian Boyd