Continued from yesterday……..
Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) started to collect as a small child. Her first piece was a cigar store Indian. (a carved statue of an Indian in various sizes, that would have been placed at the door of a store indicating that they sold tobacco). And so began her journey.
Ms. Havemeyer came from a family who was one of the most wealthy families in the world at the time. Her parents, were important collectors of Impressionism, European and Asian art (many pieces at museum). Electra wanted to collect things that were not being collected by everyone else. She had an ability to see the beauty in items that were part of everyday living. Her collections, known as ‘junk’ to her family, became her legacy to the American people.
Upon retirement of her husband, James Watson Webb, it was decided that a place was needed so that she could share her treasures with the public. When James Webb inherited a huge collection of carriages from his late parents it pushed them further into this direction and the museum was then founded exclusively as a charitable, educational and non profitable foundation. Her purpose was to enrich the lives of people through art, history and culture. The museum was inaugurated in 1952.
The surprise exhibit that I mentioned in my blog ‘The Circus is Coming….’ is the Ticonderoga. This stately, 6 side-wheel paddle steamer once travelled Lake Champlain,carrying passengers and supplies. Electra bought the 220 foot boat for her museum.
An Amazing Feat
The problem the museum now faced was that there was a two mile stretch of land between Lake Champlain and the museum. Detailed plans had to be made before the actual move could be made. In the summer of 1954, a basin was dug and filled with water and the ship. When the water was emptied out, the ship settled onto railway flatbeds on specially laid railway tracks, and was pulled onto the land.
In the winter of 1955, the Ticonderoga, affectionately nicknamed the Ti, was hauled across highways, through a swamp, woods, and fields, crossing over a railway line to reach her permanent resting place, with obstacles and delays all along the way.
Winter, because the weight of the Ticonderoga was too much for the soft ground and it would possibly sink. The ground needed to be frozen for this incredible move.
Railway tracks were laid down and pulled up after the ship had passed, and then relaid in front of the ship for the next section of the journey. Video was taken of the move and nows plays on board for all to witness. The struggles were unbelievable. The delays moved into spring and then came the mud……The Ti now rests on the grounds and will never again be moved!
Imagine doing this in 2013, let alone in 1954. The Ticonderoga, now fully estored to its former glory, is a listed National Historic Site.
Please enjoy some of the views on the grounds that I have taken.
Thanks for reading my posts on the Shelburne Museum. If you are ever in the state of Vermont or even over the border in Canada, you won’t be sorry to have taken the time for a visit to Vermonts #1 tourist attraction. You may even see me there… No, I don’t live in VERMONT or work there. I just love to go and visit.
If you have already been to the museum grounds, please leave your thoughts for us.