Bath museum gets grants for building work, ship research

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BATH — Maine Maritime Museum is benefiting from grants to improve a historic building on the property and to fund research into crew members of Maine ships.

The 114-year-old Paint and Treenail Building, which stands on the historic Percy & Small Shipyard at the museum, will get necessary preservation work from a $10,000 Tourism Cares grant matched by a gift from the Charles R. Niehaus Fund.

The museum said it is one of six organizations around the world chosen to receive a 2011 grant from the Tourism Cares nonprofit

The 1897 Paint and Treenail Building is the oldest of five original buildings at the 10-acre shipyard that are still intact and which comprise the only remaining U.S. shipyard for large sailing ships. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Safety concerns have restricted visitors to the main floor of the 2 1/2 story, 30-by-40-foot structure. Restoration work of the building will include correction of shifting foundation piers and wall-roof separation, as well as exterior painting and window sill repairs.

The museum was also one of 19 institutions across the country to receive a 2011 Cataloging Hidden Special Collections & Archives grant.

The museum noted that historic information concerning who captained Maine vessels when they sailed is readily accessible through electronic databases of historic materials. But getting information about the other crew members would take extensive research through ship logs and handwritten records among millions of documents in the museum’s collections.

The $125,600 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources will uncover this information over an 18-month period. Research will delve into thousands of people who served on Maine vessels from the late 1700s through early 1900s.

The names are in 44 manuscript collections that occupy 133 linear feet of library shelving.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.