TEA TIME • Replica ships and a new museum
recall Boston’s most famous party
HEY WERE THE EIGH TEEN-WHEELERS
of the 18th century,” says Leon Poindexter,
gesturing toward two 90-foot sailing ves-
sels at the Gloucester Marine Railways in
Gloucester, Massachusetts. “The Beaver and
the Eleanor were common carriers.”
These reproductions of two of the three
ships whose cargoes of tea famously landed
in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773, are
also rare examples of traditional shipbuild-
ing. The vessels are now berthed at Boston’s
Congress Street Bridge, where the Boston
Tea Party Ships & Museum opens June 25.
Delivered from Gloucester without rigging
(their masts wouldn’t fit under the Fort Point
Channel bridges), the seaworthy ships won’t
leave the dock. Rather, visitors will be invited
aboard to throw tea into the harbor from the
white pine decks, admire the black locust
framing, and tour the captains’ cabins fur-
nished with period antiques.
Poindexter, a master shipwright, started
with a 1908 Danish lumber schooner, now
the replica Beaver, and a 1910 Gloucester
fishing boat, now Eleanor. “These vessels were
about the right length and built of wood,” says
Poindexter. “Both have their original keels.”
A reproduction of Dartmouth, the third Tea
Party ship, will eventually join the fleet.
Historic Tours of America, which owns
the museum, could have convincingly tied
almost any similar sailing vessel to the dock;
landlubbers would not know the difference.
Instead, it hired Poindexter to build the ships
to an astonishing level of historical vérité.
Seems a fitting way to commemorate what
John Adams called “the grandest, Event,
which has ever yet happened Since, the
Controversy, with Britain, opened.”
Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Congress Street Bridge, Boston, MA,
Opens June 25, 855-832-1773,
master shipwright Leon Poindexter inside the hull of his reproduction of the Tea Party ship Beaver.