In 1971, A. Sidney DeWolf Herreshoff and Rebecca Chase Herreshoff founded the Herreshoff Marine Museum to preserve and perpetuate the unique accomplishments of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. Today the campus encompasses a large museum facility, the old family homestead, six former company buildings, and a large portion of the company's waterfront.
Rhode Island's oldest boat, SPRITE, (claimed to be the oldest existing private yacht in the US), and RELIANCE, the largest America's Cup boat ever built (featured on the Rhode Island Quarter), were Herreshoff designs. The first United States Navy torpedo boats, the finest light weight steam machinery, pioneering fin-keel spade-rudder boats in the 1890s, innovations in boat/yacht fittings, mammoth schooner yachts and the principal one design racers of the New York Yacht Club were designed and built by the Herreshoffs. Their most legendary accomplishment was the construction of eight consecutive successful defenders of the America's Cup from 1893 to 1934.
As a result of more than thirty-five years of careful documentation, acquisition and restoration, the Museum boasts over sixty significant boats, ranging from the 8 1/2' dinghy, NATHANAEL to the 75' DEFIANT, built in 1992 for the successful defense of the America's Cup. Harold Vanderbilt's TRIVIA, William Strawbridge's 12 1/2', HEFFALUMP and Captain Nat's personal yachts, the 1887 CLARA, and the 1925 PLEASURE, grace the Museum collection.
Visitors can enjoy ARIA, a superbly restored Buzzards Bay 25. Many consider this to be the most beautiful hull form ever created because of the sweep of the sheer (the rise of the hull in the bow and stern). This design was one of Captain Nat's favorites, and because the boat is a fast racer and a delightful daysailer, replicas are still being built today.
TORCH, a Fishers Island 31, has been immaculately restored. Visitors can step aboard to experience her finely appointed interior, giving a sense of what it was like to cruise aboard this historic boat. Visitors can also board CLARA and the 1905 motorlaunch THANIA.
The Nathanael Greene Herreshoff Model Room holds a collection unique in the world - Captain Nat's models used to create his designs, including his America's Cup defenders. The 500 models are works of art in themselves, and are testimony to Captain Nat's genius as a naval architect.
A changing number of exhibits illustrates important facets of the Herreshoff history.
Besides the yachts and models, the Museum has catalogued and displayed hundreds of artifacts and memorabilia significant to the Herreshoff legacy. This impressive collection includes ENTERPRISE's bronze stemhead, RESOLUTE's capstan, a quadruple displacement five cylinder steam engine from J.P. Morgan's yacht NAVETTE. Photographs, correspondence, silver and china, tools and even Captain Nat's notes and spectacles are on display.