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USS Constitution Museum Foundation, Inc.
CONTACT:P.O. Box 291812
Boston, MA 02129
617-426-1812 x 115
Anne Grimes Rand,
DESCRIPTION:“Old Ironsides” (1797), the world’s oldest commissioned ship still afloat, owes her creation to government, but her preservation and iconic status to Massachusetts philanthropy—“private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life.” Built in Boston, her copper bolts supplied by Paul Revere, her layered white- and live-oak hull protected her from British shot in the War of 1812. In 1830 the Navy was about to scrap her, but Harvard graduate student Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote his poem “Old Ironsides”, first published in the Boston Daily Advertiser, evoking broad public protest. In 1905, the Navy proposed using her for target practice, but Armenian immigrant and Boston businessman Moses Gulesian offered $10,000 to preserve her, so again public came to the rescue. In 1925, a Somerville schoolteacher, led children nationwide to send in pennies to repair her. In 1972 the Museum was founded by Boston philanthropists; in 1996, it established free admission, and by 2006 visitation had quadrupled, retail sales shot up, and philanthropic donation boxes alone now bring in more dollars than paid admission had before. The Museum is a leader in educational programming, honored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Association of Museums and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Now it’s your turn.
(2007: CULTURE: Education: Informal: Historic)
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