Sharing maritime history: Group explains proposal to city’s tourism authority
Published 9:05 pm Thursday, December 18, 2014
A group dedicated to telling the story of Washington’s maritime history plans to do that with an exhibit and by building a replica of a sharpie, a type of working sailboat.
Two members of that group — Doug Alvord and Ray Midgett — explained the proposal to the Washington Tourism Development Authority during its meeting Wednesday. The proposed Historic Port of Washington Project, basically, would enhance the group’s recent efforts to promote Washington’s maritime history. Those efforts included an exhibit and other participation in the annual conference of the North Carolina Maritime History Council in Washington this fall. The exhibit, housed at the Turnage Theater, included a mural of the Washington waterfront in its heyday, artifacts, archival photographs and paintings.
Currently, the mural is displayed at Brown Library in Washington.
The group, which plans to form a governing board, is seeking a permanent home for the exhibit. It wants the WTDA to consider allowing the exhibit to use some of its space at the former Beaufort County Arts Council’s offices adjacent to the Civic Center to house the exhibit on a temporary basis. The WTDA plans to discuss that request at its January meeting.
“A lot of important things happened here as far as maritime history is concerned,” Midgett said.
To help preserve that history, Midgett believes, Washington needs a museum-like facility that tells that history and would bring it to life with relevant exhibits and programs.
“One of the things we thought would be very useful, educational experience in town and also draw people to town was to construct one these working boats that was important to the history of Washington and eastern North Carolina. So, the idea came up to try to see if we couldn’t get the support and the funding to build a schooner or sharpie … near the waterfront here,” Midgett said.
Alvord said a replica of a sharpie (about 20 feet in length) could be used by a re-enactor using oyster tongs to show how such a vessel was used to harvest oysters and transport them ports where they could be marketed. Alvord and Midgett displayed to small models of sharpies, one depicting a 50-foot-long schooner and the other depicting an 18-foot-long oyster sharpie.
Alvord said the group would like to build a replica somewhere near the city’s waterfront, possibly in the vacant grassy area between the WTDA offices, the Civic Center and the Peterson Building or where the former restrooms at the west end of Stewart Parkway were located. The group would like for the public to be able to view construction of the replica or other boats that may be built as part of the project, he said.