Plimoth Patuxet Museums is delighted to announce that Mayflower II, its historic tall ship, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Paul and Niki Tsongas Award by Preservation Massachusetts, the statewide non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Commonwealth’s historic and cultural heritage. Since 1988, the Tsongas Award has recognized the people and projects that have displayed the highest level of commitment to historic preservation in the Commonwealth.
The accolade highlights Plimoth Patuxet’s successful four-year, multi-million-dollar restoration of the iconic reproduction of the ship that in 1620 carried the Pilgrims to the land known to Indigenous people as Patuxet and to the English as Plymouth.
“Mayflower II is an irreplaceable cultural asset and an economic anchor in Massachusetts’ vital tourism industry,” said Ellie Donovan, Executive Director of Plimoth Patuxet Museums. “We are grateful to Preservation Massachusetts for recognizing our efforts to ensure that Mayflower II will continue to educate and inspire future generations about our Nation’s founding story.”
The ship also garnered more than 27,000 votes to win the People’s Preservation Choice Award as part of this year’s Preservation Massachusetts awards celebration.
“People from all walks of life feel a sense of connection to Mayflower II and the stories of perseverance she embodies,” said Whit Perry, Plimoth Patuxet’s Director of Maritime Preservation and Operations. “We deeply appreciate the support of our friends around the world who chose Mayflower as their favorite from among several outstanding preservation projects.”
Built in Brixham, Devon, England from 1955 to 1957, Mayflower II memorializes renewed international alliances during World War II. The reproduction vessel arrived to Plymouth under sail on June 13, 1957 to great fanfare and 25,000 spectators. Since then, under Plimoth Patuxet’s stewardship, millions of visitors have crossed her decks to learn about the Pilgrims’ journey.
Despite routine maintenance, the ship succumbed to the deterioration process expected of any organic material exposed to natural elements over the course of 60 years. Plimoth Patuxet embraced the opportunity to preserve the vessel and, in 2015, embarked on a collaboration with Mystic Seaport Museum to stabilize the ship and make her seaworthy once again. Skilled shipwrights and artisans from Mystic and Plimoth Patuxet fully restored the ship according to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation. Nearly 70% of the ship’s timbers, planking, structural frames, knees, and beams were replaced, using six types of wood from eight states and as far away as Denmark.
Following her return to Plymouth Harbor on August 10, 2020, Mayflower II was named to the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the Nation's historic structures and places worthy of preservation.
Fundraising continues to cover the cost of Mayflower II’s restoration, with $1.8 million still to raise. Plimoth Patuxet aims to exceed that goal and establish a fund for Mayflower’s future maintenance in order to preserve and interpret this remarkable ship for another 60 years. To donate, please visit: plimoth.givingfuel.com/mayflower-restoration-fund.
View Mayflower II’s Preservation Massachusetts Awardee Spotlight video and the full virtual awards presentation below: