Historical preservation and education grants for two Maine nonprofits

Wed, 05/15/2024 - 10:45am

Maine’s First Ship and the Arnold Expedition Historical Society are two of the 121 nonprofit, cultural organizations across 29 states and the District of Columbia who will receive a total of $1.4 million dollars in grant funding for historic preservation and education projects from Americana Corner based in Alexandria, Virginia. The history-focused educational nonprofits are the only two Maine recipients of the 2024 Preserving America grant award. 

Bath’s own Maine First Ship (MFS) received a $5,000 Americana Corner grant that will be used to recruit captains to sail VIRGINIA for the 2024 season of living history. This is the second year that MFS has received funding from Americana Corner.  The previous grant helped VIRGINIA to earn her first US Coast Guard  endorsement, known as a “six pack” due to the limited number permitted aboard, enabling her to sail with passengers. 

“The hiring of paid captains will allow us to increase the number of days and times for scheduled deck tours and sails for 2024,” states Kirstie Truluck, MFS executive director.   “This increased operation allows us to expand our educational mission and share the story of early colonization and ship building efforts in Maine. We are supported by local businesses for some of our sailing expenses, and this was especially true in our inaugural season. We were also blessed with talented and generous volunteer captains and crews. However, as we grow our educational programming, our volunteers and visitors will enjoy the benefit of talented, and fairly compensated, captains who invest a great deal in their own development of skills, knowledge, and credentials. It takes significant resources to be good stewards of history.”   

The sailing schedule last year included nine days of port visits including Boothbay Harbor and Historic Pemaquid.  Sailing gave passengers the unique thrill of traveling aboard a ship representative of the original VIRGINIA built at Popham in 1607.  This reconstruction was built by MFS volunteers donating thousands of hours, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, resulting today in the opportunity for people to experience a unique piece of American history firsthand. More information, including how to become a member, can be found at www.mfship.org.  

The Arnold Expedition Historical Society (AEHS) received $5,700 for their 2024 work of sharing the early stories of the American Experiment - also through boat building. The AEHS funds will support the vision of celebrating the Daring Arnold Expedition in 2025. To honor the march of Benedict Arnold and his Revolutionary soldiers to Quebec in 1775, the organization will celebrate the grueling journey and Maine's role in igniting the American Revolution through historical reenactments, education, and bateau construction. Maine’s First Ship, host site for work on a bateau prototype, intends to be one of the sites along the Kennebec River for bateau construction.  

The Preserving America Grant Program aims “to educate visitors about historic sites and their role in American history as well as to restore and/or improve a site, object, or display focused on American history from 1607 to 1876 that will enhance the visitor experience.” 

Maine First Ship is located at 27 Commercial Street in Bath, Maine. The site of the Jane Stevens Visitor Center and the home dock for VIRGINA. The Visitor Center will open Memorial Day and will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as well as Memorial Day, July 3 and 4, and Indigenous Peoples Day. Maine’s First Ship and the Arnold Expedition Historical Society will use grant funds to increase public knowledge of and experience with the region’s early history.