Plimoth Patuxet Museums (formerly Plimoth Plantation) invites the media to attend an event unveiling a plaque in recognition of Mayflower II, its historic tall ship, being named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Register is the United States’ official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation because of their significance in American life. This media event will take place at the Mayflower II exhibit on the State Pier/Plymouth waterfront, on Thursday, August 5, 2021 at 10:00 am Eastern Time.
In 2020, the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) unanimously approved Mayflower II’s nomination following a process that spanned five years and resulted in a 70-page document detailing the ship’s history, the 17th-century stories it represents, and the recently-completed restoration. Plimoth Patuxet worked with MHC staff and the Public Archaeology Lab to compile the nomination. The Town of Plymouth endorsed the ship’s eligibility as well.
The MHC deemed Mayflower II historically significant for its association with the founding story 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 trend of building reproduction vessels in the mid-20th century.
Built in Brixham, Devon, England from 1955 to 1957, Mayflower II was created to remind us of the shared history and collaboration between the US and UK 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. The Museum embarked on a collaboration with Mystic Seaport Museum for a stem-to-stern restoration. 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.
The fully-restored Mayflower II made her triumphant homecoming to Plymouth Harbor on August 10, 2020. Fundraising for the restoration continues, with $1.8 million still to raise. The Museum aims to exceed that goal and establish a fund for Mayflower’s future maintenance in order to preserve, interpret and sail this remarkable ship for another 60 years. Another Baker-designed vessel, the Fuller shallop, built at Plymouth Marine Railways in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1957, recently underwent a full restoration at Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts, and returned to Plymouth this summer.