SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — A 131-year-old ship is on its way home to the South Street Seaport.
The Wavertree, a huge, iron-hulled cargo ship with soaring masts that for years was docked at Pier 17, is set to return to the Seaport in September, after more than a year of restoration work in Staten Island.
The overhaul of the South Street Seaport Museum-owned ship, built in England in 1885, was a 15-month, $13.5 million city-funded project. The 325-foot ship is one of the last boats still floating made largely from wrought iron, according to the Seaport Museum, which has owned the boat since 1968.
The historic boat, which had circled the world dozens of times, will return with improvements and fortifications, after more than 30 people at Staten Island's Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Company worked to restore the boat, according to The New York Times.
With replaced decks and heavy barnacle scrubbing, the ship is now better equipped to accommodate visitors and serve as an educational vessel — a visual reminder of the ships that once crowded the Port of New York in the early 1900s.
"These are the ships that built New York," Captain Jonathan Boulware, the executive director of the Seaport Museum said in a statement from May 2015, before the Wavertree was pulled by tugboat to Staten Island. "New York is the city it is today, the financial capital of the world, because of ships like this one. She represents all that made New York, New York."
While the museum was able to save the Wavertree, another historic tall ship, the Peking could not stay at its longtime Seaport home. The Peking, built in 1911, is being returned to its home port in Hamburg, Germany, where it will undergo a massive restoration, and remain.
The cost and maintenance was too much for the Seaport to bear.
"With the return of Wavertree in the middle of 2016, there will again be a huge square-rigged sailing ship at South Street in outstanding condition," Boulware said in a statement in November 2015. "Peking will return to Hamburg, the city of her birth, and there be cared for in much the same way. This is good for the Seaport Museum and it's good for Peking."