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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wawona Supporters Worry Ship Will Be Cut Up For Display

Alice Winship, a leader in the effort to save the schooner Wawona, sent out this appeal via e-mail last week:

If you would like to prevent the demolition of the historic schooner Wawona, please write, email or phone the Seattle City Council to ask that the Seattle Parks Department be required to provide space at Lake Union Park for Wawona to be displayed whole, not in pieces. Ask the City Council to tell Parks that Wawona must be preserved as a whole, either on land or on a barge, even if this requires changing the plan for Lake Union Park.

Despite our successful lobbying last Fall during the City Budget Hearings, Parks is continuing their stance that they probably would not accept Wawona as a whole in the park, only in pieces.

MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry) has hired an engineering firm to develop designs for displaying Wawona in the park, either whole or in pieces. The design report is due back in mid-March. It is strongly suspected that Parks will pressure Northwest Seaport to choose a design plan that would demolish Wawona and preserve only pieces.

Northwest Seaport decided last Fall to pursue displaying Wawona either on land or on a barge, either whole or in pieces. Displaying Wawona out of the water as a whole is acceptable to most Wawona supporters. Preserving only pieces is completely unacceptable. Pieces of the ship would not provide educational programming or any means to generate funds for maintenance. Displayed whole out of the water, she could continue to give future generations the educational programs that she has provided for the past 40 years. This historic treasure must be preserved in its entirety.

Although cost is a major argument for displaying the ship on land rather than in the water, many supporters of Wawona have come to feel that displaying Wawona out of the water, as a whole, is the best choice, even if funds were available for a complete restoration. Restoring Wawona so that she could be put back in the water would require replacing 95% of her wood. If she were preserved on land, much more of the original fabric of the ship could be kept. This wood has stories to tell. It bears the tool marks of the original builders, and the marks left by use during her long history as a lumber and codfishing schooner. Wawona is still the authentic, original vessel. Now that the only other remaining large wooden sailing ship built on the West Coast, the C.A. Thayer, has been completely rebuilt, retaining only 5% of her original wood, it becomes that much more important to preserve the Wawona as the true ship that our great-grandfather’s generation built.

Please contact the Seattle City Council as soon as possible, as time is short. Contact information for the City Council is listed below. Please contact all Councilmembers if you can, but if you cannot contact the entire list, please contact Councilmembers David Della and Peter Steinbrueck. A mailed letter usually gets the most attention, and a phone call is next best. Use email if you are short of time, or in addition to your other methods of contact.

If you would like more information, or a sample of a draft letter, please contact me.

Alice Winship
206-448-0707
walice1@qwest.net

City council members can be reached at:
Seattle City Hall, Floor 2
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025
The web address is http://www.seattle.gov/

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