Tall Ship Providence Is Home
By Lani Gering / Photo Credit: Lee Moody
It is good to have a tall ship back in our midst after so many years. She is following in some big foot steps as the Schooner Alexandria – a 125 foot cargo carrying three masted Baltic Trader built in Sweden in 1929 – graced our waterfront for several years in the 1980’s and 90’s. She was acquired by the Alexandria Seaport Foundation in 1984 and served as a museum and ambassador for the city until they were unable to garner enough support for her repairs. The Alexandria was sold to a lawyer from Iowa in 1996. She met an unfortunate demise in December of that year when she foundered and sank off of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.
Tall Ship Providence is finally in her home port for good at the newly opened Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center at the foot of Waterfront Park in Old Town Alexandria after spending the bulk of her time in the last year at port at the Wharf in DC. The official opening of the center took place on June 22nd. It was a star studded affair with several members of the late Senators family, friends and dignitaries in attendance.
In August of 2017, the Tall Ship Providence Foundation (TSPF) purchased the ship with the mission to create a floating museum to educate visitors on the role Providence and the Continental Navy played in the American Revolution. Providence was the first ship authorized by the Continental Congress for the Continental Navy, the first ship to bring Marines to foreign soil and the first American command of legendary Captain John Paul Jones. In addition, the Providence appeared in two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Waterside construction and preparation kicked off in April of this year and included land side work ranging from installing utilities, demolition of existing pilings, and pier installation. It was quite an undertaking but came together timely as it opened for tours last month.
There is a lot going on the dock and in this rather compact Center – an Education Center, a Naval History Theater, an Observation Deck, Ticket Office and Gift Shop all share the space.
Tours start at 10 am and run on the hour and half hour with the last tour taking place at 4 pm. Not only do you get to meet Captain John Paul Jones, guests are asked to participate with the reenactors in various capacities ranging from tending the cannon to being a deck hand. In addition to dockside tours, Tall Ship Providence offers sunset sails, specialty sails and private charters. The Maritime Heritage Center will also be available as a venue rental.
Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center
1A Prince Street
Old Town Alexandria