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May 12, 2017

Restoration of the Historic Wavertree Vessel Wins 2017 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award

Dan Leibel

Long Island City, NY - The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) earned a 2017 Lucy G. Moses Award for Excellence in Preservation yesterday for the restoration of the South Street Seaport Museum’s historic Wavertree vessel. This was the 27th annual Moses Awards ceremony by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

“The Wavertree is the focal point of the South Street Seaport Museum and our department is privileged to have contributed to both the vessel’s and the Museum’s long history,” 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. I am thrilled that the Landmarks Conservancy has recognized our hard work with the Moses Award, DDC’s third in two years.”

“The ‘street of ships’ that once lined our waterfront set New York on the path toward becoming a global center for trade, immigration, and the free exchange of ideas,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “My agency was proud to work with our partners at DDC and the South Street Seaport Museum on this preservation of the Wavertree, which embodies a remarkable piece of that maritime history. I applaud everyone whose dedication and work on this restoration has garnered such a well-earned acknowledgment.”

The Wavertree sailing through New York Harbor upon its return to the South Street Seaport in September 2016 (NYCDDC)
The Wavertree sailing through New York Harbor upon its return to the South Street Seaport in September 2016 (NYCDDC)

The 270-foot-long, three-masted Wavertree is a former cargo vessel built in Southampton, England in 1885, and is the first ship worked on by the DDC. Work began in May 2015 when the ship was towed to Caddell Dry Dock & Repair on the north shore of Staten Island, and was funded by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. The 132-year-old national historic vessel and is the world’s last remaining wrought-iron sailing ship

The Wavertree returned to the South Street Seaport Museum on September 24, 2016 following a 16-month, $13 million restoration carried out at Caddell. The entire hull, Main deck, Poop Deck, and Forward and Quarterdecks were reinforced, with close to a quarter-million pounds of steel renewed throughout the ship. Interior and exterior surfaces were 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 were completely renovated.

“No city in the US has ever undertaken a comparable municipally-funded restoration of a sailing ship,” said Captain Jonathan Boulware, Director of the Seaport Museum. “With the restoration of Wavertree, New York pays due respect to its maritime heritage, engages current New Yorkers in their waterways, and lays the groundwork for educational programming that will inform future generations. Wavertree is the very type of ship that made New York New York. Wavertree is our city’s ship and we’re thrilled to welcome her back to the Museum, back to the Street of Ships.”

The renovation also added new features that were built at the Museum’s request. A catwalk was installed 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.

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. 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.

Last year, two DDC projects received the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award: the restoration of the High Bridge, and the Staten Island Museum’s expansion at Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

For more photos of the Wavertree both sailing and under construction see here (courtesy NYCDDC).

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 $15 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