Peggotty’s Almost Home

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A Big Move

On September 5th  Peggotty completed a historic voyage. Though the distance traveled was less than 100 feet, the trip took two days and was not without some risk.  Peggotty, supported by a brand-new, custom fit boat cradle, was rolled inch by inch from its old display area into a new building designed to protect the studio throughout its second century.

Peggotty’s Importance

Peggotty is Sydney Burleigh’s boat-bottomed, thatched-roofed artist’s studio. It is one of the most interesting objects owned by the Little Compton Historical Society and may in fact be unique in all the world.  Little Compton artist Sydney Burleigh built Peggotty in 1906 using an abandoned catboat as its base.  The catboat once ferried people and produce between Taylor’s Lane and Aquidneck Island. The Catboat Association believes Peggotty may be the oldest catboat still in existence.

The Need for Preservation

LCHS celebrated Peggotty’s 100th birthday in 2006 and has kept a watchful eye on its condition ever since Hurricane Sandy damaged Peggotty’s old display building in 2012, and by the winter of 2014 the studio’s 50-year-old boat cradle was visibly failing.

The Board of Directors voted to take action this summer. It hireMaster Shipwright Herman Hinrichsen to replace Peggotty’s cradle and create a system of supports to bear the heavy weight of the studio’s thatched roof. Without this new cradle and the additional supports a structural collapse was inevitable.

The Board also hired Michael Kinnane Construction to design and build a new display building for Peggotty.  The building is located in a much more visible location on the Historical Society grounds and will help ensure that visitors actually see and  enjoy Peggotty in the future.  The new, larger building will help preserve the studio by providing the recommended amount of air circulation around the structure and will also enable visitors to see Peggotty from all slides.

The Saving Peggotty campaign is turning out to cost very close to the $90,000 estimated at the beginning of the project. Normally, the Historical Society raises all of the funds necessary for a project before work begins.  However, in this case the need for a new cradle was so great and the threat of collapse was so real, the Board decided to begin construction and fundraising at the same time.

To date over 200 supporters have donated approximately $55,000 to help save Peggotty. It is our hope that additional gifts will arrive in the coming weeks to help fill the gap between what has been raised and our $90,000 goal. The Carlton Brownell Collections Fund will also be used to support the project. Anyone wishing to contribute is encouraged to use the form below.  Gifts of any amount are greatly appreciated.

Work continues on Peggotty to add additional internal supports to ensure the studio’s safety and stability for the next 100 years. A final step in the project will the installation of removable hurricane screens that will provide protection during bad weather and are rated for Category 5 Hurricanes.

The public is invited to visit Peggotty during our Cider Social celebration from 1 to 4 PM on Monday, October 13.


Theme: Overlay by Kaira © Little Compton Historical Society
548 West Main Road, Little Compton, Rhode Island
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