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Fully restored Mayflower II to return to Plymouth Harbor next spring

A fully restored Mayflower II is scheduled to return to Plymouth Harbor May 21, 2020.

SCOTT SMITH/WICKED LOCAL/TNS

By DAVID KINDY | The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass. | Published: July 9, 2019

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (Tribune News Service) — After a lengthy renovation project, the Mayflower II will return home next spring.

The replica of the ship in which the Pilgrims sailed to the New World is scheduled to arrive in Plymouth Harbor on May 21 — in time for the town's 400th anniversary commemoration of the original landing.

Since 2016, the Mayflower II has been at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut for a multimillion-dollar restoration effort. Shipwrights at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard have worked with staff from Plimoth Plantation, which normally exhibits the vessel in Plymouth Harbor at State Pier, to replace timbers, planking, structural frames and beams that have deteriorated from saltwater and exposure over the past six decades.

"We are proud to be restoring Mayflower II for the benefit of the millions of people who will visit and be inspired by her for many decades to come," said Ellie Donovan, executive director of Plimoth Plantation. "Returning this beautiful national treasure to her home will be a moment of celebration for the Plymouth community."

Plimoth Plantation tells the stories of the Wampanoag people and the English colonists who created a new society in the 1600s. Major exhibits of the living museum include the Mayflower II, Wampanoag Homesite, 17th-Century English Village and Plimoth Grist Mill.

The official launch and recommissioning of the restored Mayflower II will take place Sept. 7 at Mystic Seaport. Award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick will be part of the ceremony as the ship is christened with water from all 50 states and Plymouth, U.K. It will then be lowered into the Mystic River, where it will float while the refitting work is finished. The Mayflower II will remain in Mystic until the spring, when it will make its way north, first to Boston for a six-day maritime festival, and then to Plymouth.

When done, about 70 percent of the ship will be new. Built in 1956, the Mayflower II experienced considerable deterioration from exposure to the elements. Despite previous preservation efforts, 62 years of exposure took its toll on wooden surfaces and underpinnings. Much of the restoration work is structural, though some has been done for historical accuracy.

The Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the ship the Pilgrims arrived on in 1620, was built in Brixham, England. Intended as a gift to the people of America from the people of England in honor of the friendships formed during World War II, she arrived in Plymouth on June 13, 1957, to great fanfare before 25,000 spectators. It has been a waterfront tourist exhibit ever since.

Several major events are planned for the Mayflower II's homecoming next spring. Before the launching ceremony in September, a new ship's bell will be cast at Plimoth Plantation, beginning Aug. 31. The museum will hold A Night of Fire & Wine, an annual fundraising event to benefit its projects.

The newly cast bell will be taken to Mystic Seaport and installed on the Mayflower II for its recommissioning on Sept. 7. The Boston maritime festival will be help May 14-19 at Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The event will feature tours of the ship, entertainment, food trucks and a beer garden. Tickets will be available at www.Mayflower IIsails2020.com.

The Mayflower II returns to Plymouth Harbor on May 20 to its berth at State Pier. A homecoming celebration is planned with a series of events and activities. 

©2019 The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.
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