Let’s continue Tottenville’s tie to the shoreline by exploring its shipyards.
In his book, Tottenville, The Town the Oyster Built, Barnett Shepherd tells of the development of ship repair and shipbuilding thanks to a growing oyster industry. He speaks of Totten’s Shipyard, as well as Rutan, Butler, Sleight, Journeay and Ellis.
You can read my five star review of Shepherd’s book at http://www.angiemangino.com/Town-the-Oyster-Built.html
In the late 1800’s there were eight boatyards in Tottenville with Brown the biggest shipyard, across from Ward’s Point, off Hopping Avenue. The others included Ellis, Rutan, Butler, Sleight, Nass, Tracy, and O’Boyle. After 1900, however, they declined as steel replaced wood in ship construction.
World War I brought another massive expansion in shipbuilding to Tottenville, with the most notable shipyard being Cossey. Opened in 1908, this 20-acre plant was the center of Tottenville’s shipbuilding for 22 years until 1930. Its 250 workers built 1,149 boats.
As Linda Cutler Hauck from the Tottenville Historical Society shared at the book talk and signing of their book, Tottenville in the Images of America series on March 26 at the Tottenville Branch Library, there is still a ship repair business on Ellis Street today run by John Garner. The book holds a picture of a tugboat under construction at A.C. Brown shipyard, as well as a picture of the last surviving yacht constructed there.
Tottenville Historical Society’s link is http://www.tottenvillehistory.com/
From a link to an article on Marine Link.com about Garner at http://www.marinelink.com/news/article/what-is-in-john-garner-s-pocket/322901.aspx I learned more about John Garner’s Tottenville Marina continuing the history of Tottenville shipyards, preserving history for museums or people working on their own boats
The shipyard made repairs for the South Street Seaport of schooners such as the Pioneer, built in 1885 and the Lettie G. Howard, built in 1893 and was the site of restoration of the Pegasus, from the Tug Pegasus Preservation Project.
At the South Street Seaport Museum’s site, http://www.seany.org/ you can see the Pioneer and the Lettie G. Howard under the tab for Ships.
Learn of the Pegasus Project, complete with pictures of Pegasus in Tottenville from arrival on December 23, 2003 to restoration completion on August 12, 2005, at http://www.tugpegasus.org/shipyard.htm
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