October 1, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: October 1

RIVIERA emigrates, VISION runs out of coal, GLORIANA prepares for winter, HMCo. loans out a painter and torpedo boat contracts are won

October 3, 1874

A wonderful cyanotype of RIVIERA on the ramp at the Love Rock's boathouse, where the little boat lived out its days until its destruction in the Hurricane of 1938; image from the HMM photo archive

N.G.H., brother Lewis and the good little ship RIVIERA return from Europe! This is very exciting news, for the brothers have been gone for quite some time. RIVIERA was the 16' sloop N.G.H. designed and built in 1874 in France with Lewis' help, and the brothers were able to bring the little boat back to the States with them after a fairly epic camp-cruising adventure through Europe. They had been abroad since the spring of 1873, according to the Phoenix. Read about it in the Phoenix archives, or in N.G.H.'s own words in the book Recollections and Other Writings. The same page of the Phoenix describes J.B.H.’s steamer VISION (HMCo. #14) cruising to Providence to show the lovely people her "wonderful power of navigation"... before running out of coal.

The half model for VISION, HMCo. #14, a 48' WL steam yacht; model currently on display in the HMM Model Room

October 3, 1885

HMCo. loans out its painter to the local church, resulting in... tasty borders? Who knows! We don't get it either. In all seriousness though, we are often on the look-out for mentions of painting and finishing in the papers relating to HMCo. As Maynard Bray once famously said, "it is awfully hard to do color research from black and white photos." Same goes for newspaper articles, but that won't stop us from collecting all the references we can find! It's also always interesting to read about HMCo. employees work around town, and we are also always looking for references to work done on buildings locally that may still be standing with Herreshoff craftsmanship on display around town.

October 1, 1897

The Phoenix reports that the iconic GLORIANA (HMCo. #411) is being hauled out for winter storage at Walker’s Cove. We had a lot of Walker's Cove coverage in last week's post, so be sure to check that out if you missed it. GLORIANA was a super radical design for her time, first owned by E.D. Morgan. Take a look at the main construction drawing in the Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection at the MIT Museum - it is an interesting example of one of their earlier drafting styles and displays beautifully in high resolution. The New York Sun published an article shortly after GLORIANA's 1891 launch and described her prospects as follows:

"In many respects [the 46-foot class] will be the hottest class ever seen in this country, and in interesting features it surpasses even the 40-foot class, which has been the leading feature in yachting for two seasons. ... Mr. Herreshoff has given his boat longer overhangs in proportion to load water line length than have ever been seen before, and with full lines forward, he has produced a most novel racing craft. She has a raking stern post like the Burgess boats but rockers up at the heel, and with greatest draught forward of the heel the keel from there takes a straight shoot for the water line forward, giving her a peculiar profile below the water line. Owners of other 46-footers seem to be afraid of the Herreshoff boat. She is owned and will be sailed by E. D. Morgan, her owner, and at present before any races have been sailed, this boat is feared by all the rest of the yachtsmen in the class. Before it was known that Nat Herreshoff had designed a 46-footer, Commodore Newbury D. Lawton of the Atlantic Yacht Club voiced the sentiments of a majority of the yachtsmen here when he said, warily: 'Keep your eye on Gen. Paine,' but to-day yachtsmen warn everybody to look oat for Nat Herreshoff. The Gloriana, for that is her name, has been sailing in Newport Harbor for more than a week, and ought to be in good shape for the Atlantic yacht Club's annual regatta June 16..."

"Look Out for Herreshoff. His 46-Foot Yacht is Liable to Surprise Somebody." New York Sun, June 1, 1891, p. 5.

E.D. Morgan sold GLORIANA after just one season of racing, but she continued to race competitively under different owners for the next eighteen years. As Morgan himself said, "she revolutionized yacht designing."

The groundbreaking GLORIANA, HMCo. #411, pictured in 1891; image courtesy the Library of Congress digital archives

October 2, 1896

The Phoenix reports that HMCo. has secured contracts for three 20 knot torpedo boats, though this scoop turns out to be a bit too hasty to be entirely accurate, the three torpedo boats in question are MORRIS (HMCo. #190), TALBOT (HMCo. #191) and GWIN (HMCo. #192). Additionally, an old building is coming down and a new building going up on Burnside St. behind the HMCo. machine shop to make space for the new contracts. HMCo. moves fast!

Who are these exuberant ladies having such a great time onboard a torpedo boat? We have no idea! This photograph shows TALBOT (HMCo. #191) possibly serving as a spectator boat, as this was taken same day as the Astor Cup races in Newport that year (August 11, 1910). We salute you again Mr. Stebbins for making our day with the details. Image courtesy the Historic New England Stebbins Photographic Collection.