In honor of Herman Melville's birthday today, here's a drawing I did last summer of the Whaleman's Chapel (aka the Seamen's Bethel) from Melville's Moby Dick. The Seamen's Bethel was built in 1832 as a nondemoninational church for the many whalemen to whom New Bedford was home port. It was tradition that one would visit the bethel at least once before setting out to sea. Melville himself came to New Bedford in December of 1840 and stayed until January the next year, attending many services here.
In honor of Independence Day, I'd like to share a few drawings of the Mayflower II done on location in Plymouth MA last weekend.
Although the tradition of Independence Day was born of the Revolutionary War, the seeds of our country's independence were first planted on September 6th 1620 when the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth England carrying 102 "brave" (or certifiably insane, depending on how you look at it) passengers looking to start a new life.
After two agonizing, stormy months at sea, cramped in dank conditions below deck, the colonists arrived in the New World. Five passengers perished at sea, and during the first winter more than half of the colonists died from malnutrition, disease, and harsh weather.
Two women gave birth on the Mayflower; Elizabeth Hopkins gave birth to a son, Oceanus during the journey, and Susanna White gave birth to a son Peregrine while the ship was anchored in Cape Cod Harbor.
It's believed that none of the colonists would have survived the first winter without the help of the local Wampanoags, who taught the colonists how to hunt, fish, and grow corn, beans and squash.
So today, while we celebrate our independence and recognize the people who risked their lives to found this country, we should really be recognizing and thanking the Native Americans, whose generosity and respect for life helped many of our ancestors survive the first few years here (and who, not long after, faced genocide and were forced out of their homelands at the hands of the colonists, leading to hundreds of years of systemic oppression which continues to be perpetuated to this day).
As I've mentioned, I spent the summer with Dalvero Academy doing a reportage project on the Charles W. Morgan, the world's last wooden whaling ship. I really need to go through all my drawings so I can do a more in-depth blog post about the events, but for now here's a quick one of the Morgan docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston this past July.
My friend Despina just shared her gorgeous drawings of the Morgan's return to Mystic Seaport, CT. Can't wait to share mine from that day - coming soon!
The Prison Ship Martyr's Monument is a memorial to the 11,500 American soldiers who died in captivity aboard 16 British prison ships in Wallabout Bay during the American Revolutionary War. The history of the monument is really quite complex, but I'll try to sum it up. Remains of some of the soldiers who died aboard the ships were initially interred near the Brooklyn Navy Yard (Vinegar Hill) in 1808, but moved and re-interred in 1873 beneath a small monument in what is now Fort Greene Park. Funds were then raised for a larger monument designed by Stanford White. The monument is a granite Doric column 149 ft high, and at the top of the column sits an eight-ton bronze brazier (funeral urn) by the sculptor Adolf Weinman.
The monument is rarely opened, but last Sunday it was open to the public and I had the opportunity to go inside for a few minutes and do a quick drawing (I got there just as they were closing it up). Apparently there used to be a spiral staircase leading to the top of the monument and visitors could pay to climb up and see the views of Manhattan, but now there's just a rusty ladder that looks like it might crumble if touched lightly. On the concrete floor there is a copper door leading to the crypt below (the crypt was not open). Unfortunately I was rushed out before I had a chance to draw it.
Fort Greene Park actually used to be Fort Putnam under the supervision of General Nathanael Greene during the Revolutionary War (1776) because it is one of the highest points in Brooklyn. It housed six eighteen-pound cannons and was the largest fort on Long Island. The fort was later renamed after Greene.
This past March I learned about the case of the Duffield Street homes in downtown Brooklyn and was compelled to honor their history with a drawing before they are eradicated by the city. The whole row of historic wood-frame houses on Duffield Street are believed to have played an integral part in the Underground Railroad, and many of them have already been demolished.
Previous owners of 227 Duffield Street, Harriet and Thomas Truesdell, were known abolitionists who worked with the likes of William Lloyd Garrison and Henry Ward Beecher. There is a sealed off tunnel in the basement of 227 Duffield Street which is believed to be a part of the Underground Railroad. Regardless of a plethora of evidence indicating that 227 Duffield Street and the surrounding homes were an integral part of the Underground Railroad, the city denies that the buildings should be landmarked and the Economic Development Plan (EDC) plans to use eminent domain to knock them down and build a park, two luxury hotels and an underground parking garage - just what we need. The fight to save the Duffield Street homes is still ongoing, and you can learn more about it here.
I recently spent a week in Boston with Dalvero Academy, and one of the locations we visited was the Old North Church. The church was founded in 1722, making it Boston's oldest surviving church building. It is most known for its role in the beginning of the American Revolution. On the evening of April 18 1775, Robert Newman and Capt. John Pulling Jr. climbed the steeple and held up two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere to warn patriots in Charlestown that the British were arriving by sea across the Charles River and would soon be marching to Lexington and Concord. Here are a couple drawings I made of the steeple!