Jamestown Historical Society

From the Collection – Ships Half Hull Models

Behind the circulation desk of the Jamestown Philomenian Library are two square rigged ship half models. The half hull models are on loan to the Library from the JHS collection. They hung for a number of years in the lobby of the Gardner House, a large summer hotel in the late 19th century that stood where the Recreation Center stands now.

the Gardner House, c. 1886-1891
The Gardner House, c. 1886-1891

Stephen Gardner built the Gardner House in 1883. His daughter Annie, who married Nathaniel S. Littlefield, ran it for many years. In 1888, 16 new rooms were added for a total of 54 and the dining room was enlarged by 50 feet. Later there was said to be 100 rooms. Captain Gardner had a long career on the water, first on sailing vessels, then on steamboats. The captain of Jamestown’s first steam ferryboat, he was born in Jamestown in 1815 and died here in 1898

Stephen Gardner
Stephen Gardner

The models are mounted in shadow boxes with simulated ocean waves and in the background lighthouses which have not been identified. The foresails are made of metal and the hull and other sails are wood. They are thought to have been made in Jamestown, ca 1885. The names of the ships are local names and could be signatures of two craftsmen: WR Briggs has not been identified, but Captain “Billy” Littlefield was the brother of Captain Stephen Gardner’s son-in-law, Nat Littlefield. In 2002 the models were restored by Plante Model Shipwrights of Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

For more information about the Half Hull Models, click on this link.

For more information about Gardner House, click on this link to look at our archives and this link to look at our photos.

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