The MHN Blog is a companion to the Maritime Heritage Network, a not-for-profit, comprehensive website of maritime heritage organizations, attractions, and activities in the Pacific Northwest. The blog highlights news, activities, and resources useful to the entire maritime heritage community. All views expressed are the author's own. Opposing views are welcome.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

NWS Releases Final Report on Wawona Options

Northwest Seaport has released its final report on recommendations by a group of experts on the potential restoration of the schooner Wawona. NWS, which owns the 1897 vessel listed on the National Register of Historic Places, convened a group of nationally recognized restoration experts in December 2005. (I contributed with a presentation based on my unpublished history of the ship.)

According to the report, six options were developed: demolition; "strategic abandonment"; preserving parts of the ship ashore; preserving the whole ship ashore; full restoration, and reconstruction (similar to building a replica).

The panel divided into two groups. The first group was composed of local experts from Washington State who had experience or expertise in funding issues and constraints, the political environment, and the maritime heritage community. Of the nine local panelists, one voted for reconstruction, three for preserving the whole ship ashore, and five for preserving parts of the vessel ashore.

The second group consisted of national experts in maritime heritage from other regions who focused on the preservation aspects of the vessel and available options independent of funding and political constraints. Strategic abandonment, immediate demolition, and reconstruction were rejected as options. The national experts recommended a three-phase approach: immediate stabilization, intermediate preservation on land undercover, and the development of a long-term plan for ultimate preservation and interpretation.

In January, Northwest Seaport implemented the first recommendation, including removing the masts, as reported by The MHN Blog. The final report said intermediate preservation included moving the Wawona onto a barge and transporting it to an undercover, land-based site. A strategic plan and campaign could then be developed that would include a business plan, assessment of the potential for public benefit, public and political support, and potential funding sources for one of three options: fully restoring the Wawona; preserving it whole on shore and under cover, or saving significant pieces and interpreting them onshore. (Wawona is currently at its long-term berth at South Lake Union Park.)

NWS estimated costs were $200,000 for immediate stabilization, $1.25 million for intermediate preservation, and up to $15 million for full restoration. Northwest Seaport continues to evaluate its options for moving forward.

To receive a copy of the full report, contact Northwest Seaport at 206-447-9800, seaport@oz.net.

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