Mayflower II, Plimoth Patuxet Museums’ full-scale reproduction of the original Mayflower, is riding a wave of celebration this year. June 13, 2022 marks 65 years since the ship crossed the Atlantic in 1957 and arrived in the very harbor where the Pilgrims landed in 1620. In the weeks to come, the Museum will commemorate Mayflower II’s major milestone with events and activities that spotlight the ship’s history and maritime heritage.
Built in Brixham, Devon, England from 1955 to 1957, Mayflower II memorializes renewed international alliances between the United States and the United Kingdom during World War II. The reproduction vessel and its crew of 33 departed Plymouth, England on April 20, 1957. She then sailed 3,500 nautical miles in 54 days to arrive in her new home – Plymouth, Massachusetts. Amid great fanfare and with 25,000 spectators there to greet the ship and crew, she arrived on June 13, 1957.
As the ship neared her destination, she was saluted by aircraft, blimps, and private planes – even the ocean liner RMS Queen Elizabeth sounded her horns as Mayflower II sailed by. Among the people who welcomed the ship’s arrival were then-Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. Major national media, including National Geographic and Life Magazine, covered the historic event.
Since Mayflower II’s inaugural voyage, the ship’s popularity has continued to grow. Under Plimoth Patuxet’s stewardship, millions of visitors have crossed her decks to learn about a defining moment in the founding story of the United States. “We’re grateful for the privilege of sharing this national treasure with all who visit,” said the Museum’s Executive Director, Ellie Donovan. “We’re celebrating this historic ship’s 65th anniversary and looking ahead to the next 65 years.”
Despite routine maintenance, the ship succumbed to the natural deterioration expected of any organic material exposed to natural elements over the course of sixty years. In 2015, Plimoth Patuxet embarked on a collaboration with Mystic Seaport Museum to undertake a complete stem-to-stern restoration of the ship. 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 restoration, 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. Mayflower II was deemed historically significant for association with the founding of the United States and as a full-scale ship that embodies the distinctive characteristics of a 17th-century English merchant vessel. Designed by renowned naval architect William A. Baker, the ship also was acknowledged for starting a mid-20th century trend of building reproduction vessels.
“I am honored to have a part in Mayflower II’s more recent journey – her full-scale restoration and the thrill of sailing this ship. No wonder Mayflower II has come to be known as ‘everyone’s ship’. People of all walks of life feel a sense of connection to her and the stories of perseverance she embodies,” said Captain Whit Perry, the Museum’s Kenneth Shaw Safe Jr. Director of Maritime Preservation and Operations.
Through the generous support of many, Mayflower II’s $11.2 million dollar fundraising campaign has been enormously successful. Fundraising continues, with just under $1 million still to raise in order to close the final gap for the restoration project. The Museum has established a fund for Mayflower’s future maintenance in order to preserve and interpret this remarkable ship for another 65 years. To learn more about Mayflower II, and to keep her sailing into the future, visit plimoth.org.
Mayflower II 65th Celebration Festivities Slated for June 11 - 13
Join Plimoth Patuxet Museums for fanfare, activities, and fun inspired by history and celebrate Mayflower II's 65th Sapphire Jubilee Anniversary marking her 1957 arrival in Plymouth Harbor!
Throughout the weekend of June 11-12, admission tickets to visit the ship will include access to family games, creative crafts, live music, festive food, and more. Additionally, on the evening of Saturday, June 11, Plimoth Patuxet will host a Seaside Soirée to celebrate the ship and raise funds in support of Mayflower II's maintenance and educational mission. The anniversary festivities will close on Monday, June 13 with a special ceremony of commemoration to honor Mayflower II’s builders and 1957 crew.
Plimoth Patuxet has a boatload of programs and offerings on deck for those near and far to join in the celebration of this beloved Tall Ship. From family outings to festive gatherings in support of Mayflower II, climb aboard and be part of the celebrations! Visit plimoth.org/explore/mayflower-iis-sapphire-jubilee to learn more.