Folk icon Pete Seeger was the showcase performer at Clearwater's barn raising ceremony, held Saturday afternoon at Rondout Landing.
Scores of volunteers from the Timber Framers Guild toiled since sunrise to build the Kingston Home Port and Education Center, located at the Hudson River Maritime Museum on Rondout Landing. The shared facility will shelter Clearwater's flagship and crew members during cold weather, and be used by the museum during summer months to build smaller boats, among other functions.
The Amish-style construction took place as thousands of weekenders gathered to watch, entertained by musicians throughout the day.
Wearing bright yellow shirts and hardhats, the workers crafted thick beams out of oaken lumber salvaged from last year's hurricane treefall. Placement of the finished pieces was assisted by a modern crane.
In July, Clearwater and the museum announced their mutual decision to build a berth in Kingston for the replica 19th Century sloop, which over 40 years has spearheaded ecological awareness and river preservation. Since that time, millions have toured the Hudson River aboard this unique vessel, touched by the inspiration of Seeger's longstanding community spirit.
“It's the beginning of a momentous and historic partnership,” said museum Executive Director Patrick McDonough. “It's just a perfect combination, and we're really happy to have them here.”
“We've got this beautiful boat; we've sailed in every harbor. We realized we better get a home port to fix it, because these sloops can't last forever unless you really take good care of them,” Clearwater Executive Director Jeffrey Rumpf said.
“It's a big deal for Clearwater, and we're hoping that it will bring an economic jolt to Kingston,” Rumpf said. “That's what it's about – symbiosis, working together, making good things happen at the waterfront.”
“Every person here, every member of this community, deserves access to the river, and clean air and water,” said Clearwater Board President Alan Shope, project architect. “As a group, we owe it to them; we have to do it together. 'No' isn't an option,” he said.
“Clearwater is not the only group waiting 40 years for a great situation to occur. This area here just about 40 years ago was seeing the end of its life as the commercial center of Kingston,” said State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. “From that time forward, and I would dare say until today, the future of this area was not certain. But now with the Home Port of the Clearwater, with the enthusiasm that we're feeling down here, so many attractions that are developing, the bustling business all over the place, we can say the Rondout has arrived.”