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September 24, 2016

The Wavertree Historic Vessel Returns to the South Street Seaport Museum Following DDC Restoration

First vessel restored by DDC to serve as exhibit and educational space

A far away shot of the Wavertree, decked out in international flags, as it floats in the NYC harbor.
The Wavertree returns to the South Street Seaport on September 24, 2016.

Ian Michaels
Executive Director of Public Information
718-391-1589, 646-939-6514

New York, NY–The Wavertree, a national historic vessel and the world’s last remaining wrought-iron sailing ship, returned to the South Street Seaport Museum today following a 16-month, $13 million restoration by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). The vessel took its place at the Museum’s piers in lower Manhattan and will serve as an exhibit and educational space for future generations of New Yorkers and visitors.

The 270-foot-long, three-masted former cargo vessel was built in Southampton, England in 1885, and is the first ship worked on by the DDC, the City’s leading capital construction agency. Work began in May 2015 when the ship was towed to Cassell Dry Dock & Repair on the north shore of Staten Island, and was funded by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

“New York owes our commercial prowess to our waterways and our long and proud history of shipping and ship building. I am delighted to announce we are bringing the historic Wavertree, the world’s last remaining wrought-iron sailing ship, back to South Street Seaport for New Yorkers and visitors to continue explore, enjoy and learn from,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“This was a great challenge for the DDC, and we thank the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Seaport Museum for placing their faith in us,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “Our project team managed to retain the ship’s historic feel while creating the finest exhibit space for the Museum. You can feel the Wavertree’s history in every plank and every hatch. Now, over 130 years after it was built, the vessel is restored, upgraded, and ready to help educate new generations on our city’s seafaring history.”

“The return of the Wavertree marks a major moment for the Seaport Museum and for all of New York City,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Along with our partners at DDC and local officials, we were proud to support the restoration of this remarkable piece of maritime history, bringing students, residents, and visitors new opportunities to be educated and fascinated, and to develop a deeper understanding of the foundations of our dynamic city.”

"The restoration of Wavertree is a completely unprecedented project, both in scale of sailing ship restoration as a municipal project and because the principal project managers had never restored a ship. We are absolutely thrilled at the result. Not only was the project completed on time and on budget, but the quality of work and level of restoration are remarkable,” said Captain Jonathan Boulware, Executive Director of the Seaport Museum. “DDC, along with Caddell Drydock and Repair and the Seaport Museum, consistently found creative ways to solve problems that the agency had never before encountered. The result is a project that the City of New York will be proud of.”

Beginning in spring 2015, every inch of the vessel was inspected. The entire hull, Main deck, Poop Deck, and Forward and Quarterdecks have been reinforced, with close to a quarter-million pounds of steel renewed throughout the ship. Interior and exterior surfaces have been recoated with over 2,200 gallons of modern marine epoxy paints and other materials. The rigging, masts, and yards were replaced or restored, and internal crew and bunk areas completely renovated. Deep in the hull, 128 old concrete blocks weighing two tons each and 204 tons of cobblestone ballast was removed and replaced with concrete slurry, creating a new, larger open hold space.

The wavertree rests next to a dock, where construction workers oversee renovations.
The Wavertree’s masts under construction in August 2016.

Mechanically, the ship has a new electrical system and new LED lighting. The rudder and steering mechanisms were completely rehabilitated, and there is a new internal ventilation system.

The ship also had some new features that were built at the Museum’s request. A catwalk has been added up above the Main Deck, and an almost completely new deck was added below – the Tween Deck, which converts some of the ship’s large internal cargo area into additional exhibit space.

The Wavertree is listed in the National Register of Historic Places

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $10 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit